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In their infancy, addictions are mostly perceived as a helper with the benefit of numbing certain feelings or thoughts, because fundamental needs e.g. safety, love and belongingness, self-esteem are not met, or people are introduced in a social environment and want to fit in. But they can soon have their own life and gradually increase and become habitual.

Did you know that when you drink alcohol you move into a more primitive part of the brain?

When drinking alcohol, people eventually lose intellectual control and move from the intellectual to the emotional part of the brain, where the so-called primitive brain takes over. This is when people may start behaving differently to their “normal controlled” manner.

Alcohol has a numbing effect, which people often take advantage of in order to switch off or unwind. Often the consequences of drinking on body and mind are ignored or underestimated. For instance, “a new review of 27 studies shows that alcohol does not improve sleep quality. According to the findings, alcohol does allow healthy people to fall asleep quicker and sleep more deeply for a while, but it reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.” REM sleep is important because it helps us to deal with stress and anxieties in our day-to-day lives.

Of course, not everybody who has a drink also has a drink problem, and a proper assessment of each individual’s drinking habits must first be made, before excessive drinking tendencies can be identified. With severe alcohol problems, giving up suddenly can be dangerous or even fatal, so if you think your condition is serious, you must take medical advice and alcohol intake must be reduced gradually.

What can YOU do about it?

To deal with an alcohol addiction effectively and to avoid the process of just replacing one addiction with another, people have to find a healthier way to cope with their day-to-day lives. If you stop without it, the mind might just finds its own substitute, and this is when people go from one to the next, e.g. drinking to food.

Hypnotherapy can be very effective in helping to find new improved ways of coping, unwinding and also increase motivation. This approach works with a certain element of towards and away from motivation. With this in mind, a good starting point is to visualise living a happy content and fulfilled life without the drinking. What positives would there be in your life when you achieve your goal?

Even small changes can make a big difference. Whatever strategies you may choose, give them a fair trial:

Keep track, count and measure. Know how many units a beverage contains, and work out a way of monitoring your intake.

Set goals. Decide how many days a week you want to drink and what your maximum intake should be. It’s a good idea to have some days off. Decide what you can do instead.

Pace and space. When you do drink, pace yourself. Order also non-alcoholic drinks as spacers.

Include food. Don’t drink on an empty stomach.

Find alternatives. Develop new, healthy activities, hobbies, and relationships. If you use alcohol to be more comfortable in social situations, manage moods, or cope with problems, choose healthier alternatives to deal with those aspects.

Avoid “triggers.” Know what triggers your urge to drink. If certain people or places make you drink even when you don’t want to, try avoiding them. If certain activities, times of day, or feelings trigger the urge, plan something else to do instead.

Plan to handle urges. When you cannot avoid a trigger and an urge hits, consider these options: Remind yourself of your reasons for changing. Talk things through with someone you trust. Get involved with a healthy, distracting activity, such as physical exercise or a hobby that doesn’t involve drinking.

Know your “no” You’re likely to be offered a drink at times when you don’t want one. Have a polite, convincing “no, thanks” ready. The faster you can say no to these offers, the less likely you are to procrastinate and give in.