Thursday, March 9, 2023

Booze: Outdated Poison

"Drinking is for losers."

My daughter said that the other day, and I couldn't agree more. The fact that alcohol has been around me my entire life makes it difficult to stay away from it — but not impossible. Thank God youngsters are drinking less than previous generations. That's a huge step in the right societal direction, and I'm jumping on that bandwagon.

One fact mentioned in Not Drinking Tonight is the percentage of college students who have had a drink in the past month.

The answer: 54 percent.

What?!? I thought it would be way higher than that. When I was in college, beer seemed to be the fuel of the students. Apparently, it isn't that way any more. and my preconceived notions of drinking are off.

Not Drinking Tonight: A Guide to Creating a Sober Life You Love (2022) by Amanda E. White is a book I saw on the new shelf at my El Dorado Park Library, and it called to me. Although it is geared more toward a female audience, I couldn't put it down, and it's helped me cut down my drinking and understand huge facts new to me.

Most of the book isn't about alcohol. Rather, it's about exploring the underlining causes that bring people to drink. Early in the book, it points out an outdated view many people have on alcoholism. A lot have an "all or nothing" stance. Either you're an alcoholic or not, but in reality, it's not so tidy.

Many have alcohol disorders. People drink when they're stressed, in social situations, as a routine,  "to unwind," etc. They might not belong in Alcoholics Anonymous, but they have a disorder. They would be better of if they drank less or didn't drink at all.

Personally, I don't want to drink that much. I'm getting older, and it just doesn't feel that great when I drink. I've cut down.

So much information in Not Drinking Tonight resonated with me that I wish I had run across it earlier in life. White explains the idea of "reparenting," and it blew my mind. I was like, "What? Huh? You mean you can do that? With yourself?"

Mind blown.

I liked all sections of the book, but especially responded to Part II: Reparenting. The four chapters in that section are about mindfulness, emotions, self-care and boundaries.

Each of those chapters then offer a lot of ideas I never considered. Putting a name to emotions is huge, and White offers the acronym "nailer" for understanding one's emotions. That stands for notice, allow, investigate, label, explore and release.

Anger, fatigue, discouragement, whatever — it's OK to feel all of it. Do it. Allow it. Then, explore it, and release it in a healthy way. Don't escape it with booze.

With self-care, I learned that it goes well beyond bubble baths and naps. In fact, there are eight areas of self-care — emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, social, professional, financial and environmental. The body-blaster that many do instead of self-care is drinking. Ugh. That's messed up. Alcohol is poison.

When Not Drinking Tonight walks through what alcohol does to the body and brain, it stayed me. It turns out that alcohol is such a poison that the entire immune system must attack it. If we feel a rush from drinking, it is adrenaline kicking in to keep the poison from hurting us.

We likely drink because of the initial adrenaline rush, not the depressant of alcohol. At least that's how I interpret it. We then "chase the dragon." We keep looking for that rush with more drinks, but it just never comes again.

So, yeah, alcohol was, or is, part of our Gen X lives, but when you talk to Millennials, such as Amanda White, and Gen Z kids, you realize that most have evolved past drinking. We should too.