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Triggers and Cravings

What To Do When You’re Missing Alcohol

February 22, 2023
12 min read
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Written by
Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
February 22, 2023
12 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
February 22, 2023
12 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
February 22, 2023
12 min read
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Reframe Content Team
February 22, 2023
12 min read

FOMO can feel pretty terrible, but it does pass. When giving up alcohol or cutting back on drinking, it can feel as if you are not being included in the fun. Your brain is functioning differently and that can take a moment to get used to.

Brain chemicals

Understanding how alcohol artificially boosts serotonin and dopamine in the brain is key when considering how hard it is to quit drinking. When we consume alcohol, there is an increase in our levels of serotonin and dopamine, two essential neurotransmitters that regulate how we feel emotionally and physically.

The influx can give us a feeling of pleasure and euphoria as our feelings of stress are reduced. This creates a false sense of security which can be difficult to fight due to how addictive alcohol is. Quitting drinking will affect our serotonin and dopamine levels, causing feelings of sadness, anxiety and lack of motivation.

Drinking is such a difficult habit to quit because it gives us the false highs that make us want to keep going back for more.

Serotonin and dopamine depletion

Alcohol artificially boosts serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain. Doing so on a long-term, heavy basis has serious negative effects. Drinking alcohol leads to more dopamine release than natural rewards can produce, creating an imbalance and distorting our perceptions of fun.

As dopamine levels fall back down due to cutting back or going alcohol-free, they can become quite low. This leads to an apathetic mental state and an inability to experience pleasure from natural rewards. With this in mind, it’s no wonder how hard quitting drinking can be, as people are fighting a strong pull from artificial rewards.

Quitting drinking can be difficult, but it is the first step to giving your brain a chance to recover. The longer you abstain from alcohol, the better the feelings of natural motivation and inspiration will become. Feeling dull and uninteresting will last forever. Taking a break from alcohol creates an opportunity for change as you give your brain an extended period of recovery time.

Knowing how hard quitting drinking can be should leave you with newfound appreciation of how crucial it is to allow yourself the time needed for your brain to rebirth with restored balance after years of how alcohol affects us.

Quitting drinking can be a difficult endeavor, especially if you haven't considered how much of your time was spent on it in the past. If you take the time to calculate how much energy and effort went into drinking and recovery from its effects on a daily basis, you will likely be shocked at how much of your life was consumed by this habit.

Removing alcohol from your life provides an opportunity for all that time to be put towards other activities or pursuits that can help further improve your quality of life and give meaning to how you spend your time.

Tips For Overcoming Boredom in Sobriety

Quitting drinking can often be a difficult task - figuratively and literally. Having to give up something that has long been a part of your social life takes a tremendous amount of commitment, courage and resilience. Similarly, understanding the need to fill your newfound freedom from alcohol with joy may seem equally daunting if you're not sure how to go about it.

There are various techniques one can use to start injecting moments of pleasure back into their lives without relying on alcohol. This is essential for anyone striving for sobriety as these experiences not only reduce the risk of relapse but also allow you to get in touch with the bountiful joys of life while sober.

1. Don’t isolate

Quitting drinking can be an incredibly difficult process to go through. It requires a major lifestyle change and with that, there is an initial learning curve. Don’t allow yourself to get down on yourself for the fact that you can’t get wasted at the bar with your friends anymore. Avoiding such feelings of debt can help keep you on track. Taking an extended break from drinking gives your brain time to adjust from being deprived of dopamine. Think of it like how you would treat an injury.

You may also notice how lonely alcohol-free living can feel. When your friends are out partying and having fun, it's understandable for your internal dialogue to become more negative as feelings of isolation creep in. By being honest with your struggles, you can seek out the support needed to get through each day.

Quitting drinking can be hard and it's important to remember that simply giving up alcohol won't magically improve our lives. The absence of hangovers and bad behavior from being drunk, but the underlying issues that led a person to drink in the first place remain.

You may feel stuck without the artificial dopamine boost you’ve become reliant on. It is possible to open up your world and make progress with these issues by introducing healthier coping strategies such as talking to friends, taking part in hobbies or seeking help if needed.

2. Explore new hobbies

Finding something to do and care about can help provide meaning in our lives. An excellent way to provide a distraction from how hard quitting drinking can be is to engage in hobbies that can occupy your time and energy. Projects with manageable learning curves, such as knitting for instance, can give you a much-needed outlet for your focus and motivation.

Learning something new can require full attention and focus. Practice your hobby every day until it becomes an activity you get lost in, bringing calming effects that helps combat feeling bored.

Taking on a new hobby can add some much-needed fun and structure to your life. Most hobbies, like knitting, sticker making or woodworking, are actually very enjoyable to learn and can help reduce stress, while providing an opportunity to hang out with new people who share a similar creative interest.

There's nothing quite like the feeling of accomplishment you get from mastering something you set out to do - whether it's knitting yourself a scarf or mastering how hard is it to quit drinking. When you're focusing on creating something, you have less time for unproductive activities like scrolling aimlessly through your phone. All in all, taking up a new hobby can be just as healthy for you as going for a run - not only does it relax and entertain you, it also has potential to connect you with others and give your mental health a well-deserved boost.

3. Choose a hobby

Quitting drinking can be incredibly hard, but it's essential for living a healthier, more fulfilling life. With your newfound time and space, it may be worth considering taking up a hobby to keep you occupied. Choosing a new hobby is not always easy, so you may have to do some soul searching in order to find what works best for you. Have you ever wanted to take an art class or learn how to play an instrument? Finding something creative and stimulating could help to elevate your mood and overall well-being.

Picking up a physical hobby such as running or sailing can provide healthy activity while also allowing you to connect with likeminded individuals and expand your social circle. Ultimately, think back to how you enjoyed spending your time before drinking consumed the majority of your free hours.

4. Go on a field trip

Quitting drinking or cutting back can be incredibly difficult; much more than people often realize. When you're free from alcohol, exploring your local area takes on a whole new level of appreciation. As soon as the sun starts to rise, you'll begin to notice how much life emerges in your city or town: everyone starting their day and getting about their business. It’s like waking up for the first time—it's enchanting how each place has its own distinct pulse, how ordinary people can create such an enthralling landscape with simple daily acts. With sober eyes, take some time to explore and discover the vibrancy that exists outside of late night bars and boozy brunches.

5. Get out in nature

Fresh air and quality time in nature provide unbeatably therapeutic experiences, not just for kids but also adults. It has been proven that spending time outdoors reduces stress and helps improve mental health and cognitive function. Even 10-15 minutes each day can have a huge positive impact on how we feel. Have some fun with kayaking, fishing or camping.

Quitting drinking can feel overwhelming and even impossible, especially if it’s something that has been part of your life for a long time. But with Reframe, an evidence-based alcohol habit-change app, you don’t have to go it alone. Developed by hundreds of expert medical and mental health professionals, the platform offers scientifically backed behavior change strategies, helpful tools and a global network of emotional support to make lasting changes in your drinking habits. And the best part is that it works: Research has shown that Reframe users consume significantly lower amounts of alcohol than those who use other apps. If you're ready to take back control of your relationship with alcohol, start using Reframe today - changing your drinking habits has never been easier!

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At Reframe, we do science, not stigma. We base our articles on the latest peer-reviewed research in psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral science. We follow the Reframe Content Creation Guidelines, to ensure that we share accurate and actionable information with our readers. This aids them in making informed decisions on their wellness journey.
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