Drinking Habits

The Reframe Blog

Your source for healthier, happier living

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
This is some text inside of a div block.
Latest Articles
2023-07-03 9:00
Drinking Habits
Popular
Wine Belly: What Is It and How Do I Get Rid of It?
This is some text inside of a div block.

Are you concerned that your nightly glass of red might be contributing to that growing bulge around your midsection? You're not alone! Let's dive right into the science and discover the truth behind the wine belly.

9 min read

Begin Your Adventure With Reframe!

Considering giving alcohol the boot? The Reframe app is here to help you! Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), our app serves as a trusted buddy, helping you reevaluate the place alcohol holds in your life by using cutting-edge neuroscience research. Our approach has helped countless people worldwide in redefining their relationship with alcohol. You can do it, and we're here to support you!

Reframe’s mission is to provide you with the right insight and tools, not just to get by with less alcohol, but to genuinely thrive. We share daily nuggets of wisdom rooted in neuroscience research that unravel the science around alcohol. Our integrated Toolkit is filled with useful resources and activities to help you tackle any hurdles.

When you join, you’ll have access to a global community walking the same path through our 24/7 Forum chat, where you can draw motivation from folks worldwide who are eager to share their stories and advice. Plus, our accredited coaches are always available for personalized advice and guidance.

We're always introducing new features to our app to optimize your experience. Say hello to Melody, our latest in-app chatbot. Built with the help of the latest AI technology, she’s ready to guide you towards a life with less (or no) alcohol.

And that’s not all! Every month, we roll out engaging challenges like Dry January Challenge, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. Participate alongside fellow Reframers or go at it alone — the choice is yours!

Try the Reframe app for an entire week at no cost! You've got nothing to lose — and a world to gain. Are you eager to take the reins and discover what life is like without alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

Read Full Article  →

Quick, what word goes with “belly” if we’re talking about the effects of alcohol? For most of us, “beer belly!” is probably our automatic response. But did you know that your beloved glass of chardonnay or cabernet could also be contributing to an ever-growing waistline? We aren’t talking about a “beer belly” — women and men who drink wine might get a “wine belly” instead. The “wine belly” — sometimes humorously called a “grape gut” — isn't just an urban legend: it's rooted in science. Let’s talk about what it is and how to get rid of wine belly fat.

Meet the Wine Belly

Does drinking alcohol cause belly fat? The term “wine belly” typically refers to the belly fat that some people accumulate after regularly consuming wine or other types of alcohol. While the name might suggest that this phenomenon is exclusive to wine drinkers, it actually applies to anyone who drinks frequently. And yes, even your beloved craft beers or sophisticated cocktails can lead to the same result of alcohol belly. So in the end, the wine belly and the beer belly are both essentially “booze bellies” under different names. But we want to know how to lose alcohol belly.

Belly Fat Facts

But what exactly is belly fat? And what does an alcohol belly look like? In scientific terms, belly fat is so-called visceral fat located deep inside your abdomen, surrounding your organs. It's different from subcutaneous fat, which is just under the skin and can be pinched. The bad news? Visceral fat is associated with an increased risk of health issues like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. 

The Science Behind the Wine Belly

Why does alcohol, especially wine, contribute to this belly fat? And how does wine make you gain weight? The answer lies in how the body processes alcohol. When we sip our favorite merlot or cabernet sauvignon, our bodies prioritize metabolizing the alcohol first, before anything else. Why? Because the body perceives alcohol as a toxin and wants to eliminate it ASAP, other metabolic processes are pushed to the sidelines. The downside of this biological rush is that the other calories we consume end up being stored as fat instead of being burned for energy. This is what contributes to the alcohol belly fat that many of us may want to lose. 

Sneaky Calories

Does wine cause weight gain? It definitely can be a factor, and we can start by looking at its calories. Now, you might argue that wine doesn't have that many calories. While it's true that wine isn't calorically dense like fast food, it's easy to overlook how much we’re drinking. An average glass of wine holds about 120-150 calories, with some reaching up to 200 calories. So sure, we’re not talking the levels of an entire pizza or box of donuts here, but if we’re drinking multiple glasses a day, those calories can add up quickly

It's not just the calories from alcohol — wine also contains residual sugars that can add to your caloric intake. And let's not forget the late-night cheese platter that often accompanies wine and adds an extra calorie punch: alcohol tends to stimulate our appetite, which causes us to consume more calories than we would sober and leads to weight gain.

Genes and Wine Belly

You might have noticed that some of your friends can drink like a fish and not develop a wine belly, while others aren't so fortunate. This discrepancy is often due to genetic differences.

Our genetic makeup plays a significant role in determining where we store fat. Some people are predisposed to store more fat in their abdominal region, leading to a more prominent wine belly.

Hormones and Fat Storage

Our body’s hormones also play a crucial role in fat storage. Unfortunately for wine lovers, alcohol consumption can interfere with these hormones.

Insulin is a key player in our metabolism, regulating blood sugar levels. High alcohol consumption can lead to insulin resistance, leading to higher blood sugar and increased fat storage — especially around the midsection.

Moreover, men are more likely to store fat abdominally than women, leading to the classic "beer belly" or "wine belly." Women, on the other hand, are more likely to store fat in their hips and thighs. However, after menopause, women's fat storage patterns become more similar to men's due to hormonal changes — and their wine bellies can reflect that change. To get rid of alcohol belly, women, especially post-menopausal women, can use some of the same strategies as their male counterparts. To combat alcohol belly, women who have already gone through menopause can consider hormone replacement therapy (HRT), but that can come with its own issues, so talk to your doctor first.   

Yeast and the Wine Belly

Another part of the story has to do with yeast: the microscopic fungus that plays an instrumental role in the winemaking process. Its main job is fermentation, converting the sugars in grapes into alcohol and carbon dioxide. 

While yeast doesn’t make us store belly fat, it expands the stomach as we digest wine, making the belly puff out more.

Illustration A person's silhouette with a protruding belly, symbolizing a wine belly

Deflating the Wine Belly

What’s the best way to lose alcohol belly? If you've realized that your wine habit may be contributing to your wine belly, don't panic! There are several strategies for how to get rid of alcohol belly you can adopt to tackle this issue. 

  • Practice moderation. One of the most effective ways to prevent a wine belly is to moderate your drinking. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.
  • Choose your drinks wisely. All wines are not created equal when it comes to calories. dry wines, like cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, and chardonnay, have fewer calories than sweeter wines. Being mindful of the kind of wine you choose can help control your calorie intake.

  • Engage in regular physical activity. Regular exercise can help reduce belly fat. Consider integrating activities like walking, cycling, or yoga into your daily routine.
  • Eat a balanced diet. A diet rich in whole foods, like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, can help you manage your weight and reduce the risk of developing a wine belly. Try to limit processed foods, which are often high in added sugars and unhealthy fats.

Quick, what word goes with “belly” if we’re talking about the effects of alcohol? For most of us, “beer belly!” is probably our automatic response. But did you know that your beloved glass of chardonnay or cabernet could also be contributing to an ever-growing waistline? We aren’t talking about a “beer belly” — women and men who drink wine might get a “wine belly” instead. The “wine belly” — sometimes humorously called a “grape gut” — isn't just an urban legend: it's rooted in science. Let’s talk about what it is and how to get rid of wine belly fat.

Meet the Wine Belly

Does drinking alcohol cause belly fat? The term “wine belly” typically refers to the belly fat that some people accumulate after regularly consuming wine or other types of alcohol. While the name might suggest that this phenomenon is exclusive to wine drinkers, it actually applies to anyone who drinks frequently. And yes, even your beloved craft beers or sophisticated cocktails can lead to the same result of alcohol belly. So in the end, the wine belly and the beer belly are both essentially “booze bellies” under different names. But we want to know how to lose alcohol belly.

Belly Fat Facts

But what exactly is belly fat? And what does an alcohol belly look like? In scientific terms, belly fat is so-called visceral fat located deep inside your abdomen, surrounding your organs. It's different from subcutaneous fat, which is just under the skin and can be pinched. The bad news? Visceral fat is associated with an increased risk of health issues like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. 

The Science Behind the Wine Belly

Why does alcohol, especially wine, contribute to this belly fat? And how does wine make you gain weight? The answer lies in how the body processes alcohol. When we sip our favorite merlot or cabernet sauvignon, our bodies prioritize metabolizing the alcohol first, before anything else. Why? Because the body perceives alcohol as a toxin and wants to eliminate it ASAP, other metabolic processes are pushed to the sidelines. The downside of this biological rush is that the other calories we consume end up being stored as fat instead of being burned for energy. This is what contributes to the alcohol belly fat that many of us may want to lose. 

Sneaky Calories

Does wine cause weight gain? It definitely can be a factor, and we can start by looking at its calories. Now, you might argue that wine doesn't have that many calories. While it's true that wine isn't calorically dense like fast food, it's easy to overlook how much we’re drinking. An average glass of wine holds about 120-150 calories, with some reaching up to 200 calories. So sure, we’re not talking the levels of an entire pizza or box of donuts here, but if we’re drinking multiple glasses a day, those calories can add up quickly

It's not just the calories from alcohol — wine also contains residual sugars that can add to your caloric intake. And let's not forget the late-night cheese platter that often accompanies wine and adds an extra calorie punch: alcohol tends to stimulate our appetite, which causes us to consume more calories than we would sober and leads to weight gain.

Genes and Wine Belly

You might have noticed that some of your friends can drink like a fish and not develop a wine belly, while others aren't so fortunate. This discrepancy is often due to genetic differences.

Our genetic makeup plays a significant role in determining where we store fat. Some people are predisposed to store more fat in their abdominal region, leading to a more prominent wine belly.

Hormones and Fat Storage

Our body’s hormones also play a crucial role in fat storage. Unfortunately for wine lovers, alcohol consumption can interfere with these hormones.

Insulin is a key player in our metabolism, regulating blood sugar levels. High alcohol consumption can lead to insulin resistance, leading to higher blood sugar and increased fat storage — especially around the midsection.

Moreover, men are more likely to store fat abdominally than women, leading to the classic "beer belly" or "wine belly." Women, on the other hand, are more likely to store fat in their hips and thighs. However, after menopause, women's fat storage patterns become more similar to men's due to hormonal changes — and their wine bellies can reflect that change. To get rid of alcohol belly, women, especially post-menopausal women, can use some of the same strategies as their male counterparts. To combat alcohol belly, women who have already gone through menopause can consider hormone replacement therapy (HRT), but that can come with its own issues, so talk to your doctor first.   

Yeast and the Wine Belly

Another part of the story has to do with yeast: the microscopic fungus that plays an instrumental role in the winemaking process. Its main job is fermentation, converting the sugars in grapes into alcohol and carbon dioxide. 

While yeast doesn’t make us store belly fat, it expands the stomach as we digest wine, making the belly puff out more.

Illustration A person's silhouette with a protruding belly, symbolizing a wine belly

Deflating the Wine Belly

What’s the best way to lose alcohol belly? If you've realized that your wine habit may be contributing to your wine belly, don't panic! There are several strategies for how to get rid of alcohol belly you can adopt to tackle this issue. 

  • Practice moderation. One of the most effective ways to prevent a wine belly is to moderate your drinking. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.
  • Choose your drinks wisely. All wines are not created equal when it comes to calories. dry wines, like cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, and chardonnay, have fewer calories than sweeter wines. Being mindful of the kind of wine you choose can help control your calorie intake.

  • Engage in regular physical activity. Regular exercise can help reduce belly fat. Consider integrating activities like walking, cycling, or yoga into your daily routine.
  • Eat a balanced diet. A diet rich in whole foods, like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, can help you manage your weight and reduce the risk of developing a wine belly. Try to limit processed foods, which are often high in added sugars and unhealthy fats.
Drinking Habits
Popular
2023-05-16 9:00
Drinking Habits
Popular
Alcohol Withdrawal: A Timeline of What To Expect
This is some text inside of a div block.

Alcohol withdrawal is an uncomfortable process, as it can bring about symptoms such as nausea and irritability. But how long does it last? Here’s a timeline of what you can expect.

20 min read

Find Support During Recovery With Reframe!

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol.

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

Read Full Article  →

Quitting alcohol requires courage! Not only does it involve a major lifestyle overhaul, but for many of us, the road to alcohol-free living comes with physical and psychological discomfort in the form of withdrawal. Unfortunately, some of us may return to alcohol use as a result of these challenges. But knowledge is power! If we know what to expect during the withdrawal process, we’re much more likely to stay the course. 

So, what can we really expect during the withdrawal process? In this blog post, we'll explore the various stages of the alcohol withdrawal timeline, breaking it down so you have a clear understanding of what lies ahead. We want to give you the information that’ll help you stick to your goals so you can become your healthiest self. Let’s get started!

Stage 1: Days 1-3

The onset of stage 1 of alcohol withdrawal usually materializes 6 to 12 hours after the last consumed drink. This brief window underscores the body's deep-rooted dependence on alcohol. When the body is used to a consistent supply of alcohol, its sudden absence disrupts the system, leading to a range of withdrawal symptoms.

During these initial days, the body manifests a spectrum of mild to moderate symptoms. The nervous system, which had adjusted to the presence of alcohol, suddenly finds itself in a hyperactive state. This abrupt change is most evident in the heightened state of anxiety many people experience. There's an inexplicable nervousness, a constant feeling of dread, and an underlying irritability that can make us snap at the smallest of triggers.

Digestive symptoms are also predominant at this stage. Nausea and vomiting can make eating a challenge. The body, already grappling with the absence of alcohol, needs nourishment, but the digestive upheaval can deter people from consuming substantial meals. This is why it's recommended to consume foods that are easy on the stomach. Bananas, rich in vital nutrients and known for their natural antacid properties, can offer relief. Light, hydrating soups (think broth-based, not cream-based) serve as an excellent option, too. It's not just about what we consume but also about what we should avoid. Excessive caffeine can further irritate the stomach and exacerbate anxiety.

Insomnia, another troubling symptom of this phase, can leave us feeling drained. The body craves rest, but the mind remains restless. Reducing screen time, especially during the evening, can help prepare the body for sleep. When a full night's sleep seems elusive, short naps during the day can replenish some energy.

Amid these physical symptoms, it's paramount to also address the emotional and psychological turmoil. The journey of withdrawal is as much (or more!) a mental battle as it is a physical one. Simple self-soothing practices, such a calming bubble bath, can offer temporary relief from the anxiety. For those familiar with Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) tapping, this can be a beneficial tool to employ during heightened states of stress.

Stage 2: Days 3-7

After making it through the initial phase, we enter the second stage, stretching from days 3 to 7, a period in which withdrawal symptoms can intensify considerably. Among the myriad possible symptoms, delirium tremens (DTs) stands out not just for its severity but also for its potentially life-threatening implications.

Delirium tremens, often shortened to DTs, is a severe manifestation of alcohol withdrawal. This condition is marked by acute episodes of agitation, a state of mental confusion or disorientation, and hallucinations. The hallucinations aren't only visual; we can also experience auditory and tactile hallucinations, hearing or feeling things that aren't present.

The onset of DTs is typically 48 to 72 hours after the last drink. However, the body's response to withdrawal can be unpredictable, and in some cases, the onset of DTs can be delayed, presenting itself up to 10 days after discontinuing alcohol. This variability in onset further underscores the need for close monitoring during the withdrawal phase.

Certain factors exacerbate the risk of developing DTs. Those of us with a history of multiple alcohol withdrawal episodes are more susceptible, as each withdrawal can make the nervous system more sensitive to the absence of alcohol. Prolonged periods of alcohol misuse can also increase the risk, given the profound impact long-term alcohol consumption can have on brain chemistry and structure. Additionally, those of us with existing medical conditions, especially liver diseases or infections, are at a heightened risk.

Given the severity of DTs, it’s imperative to recognize it as a medical emergency. A mere 5% of people withdrawing from alcohol might experience DTs, but it can be fatal if not addressed promptly. Elevated blood pressure, rapid heart rate, and fever often accompany the primary symptoms of DTs, making immediate medical attention even more critical.

If someone is suspected of experiencing DTs, they should not be left alone. Continuous supervision is essential, and immediate medical assistance should be sought. Hospitals or detoxification facilities are equipped to handle such emergencies, providing medications, monitoring vital signs, and ensuring the individual's safety.

Delirium tremens (DTS): Image illustrating alcohol withdrawal symptoms of confusion and shaking

Stage 3: Days 7-14

Good news! By the end of the first week and into the second, most physical withdrawal symptoms begin to subside. However, we may still face psychological symptoms such as mood swings, anxiety, and cravings for alcohol. It's essential to be aware of these challenges and to seek support from friends, family, or professionals to help manage these lingering symptoms.

Here are a few tips to stay a step ahead of cravings during this time and as you proceed with your journey:

  1. Avoid triggers. To stop alcohol cravings, recognize and avoid triggers like social events, stress, or boredom. Find alternative ways to cope, such as engaging in healthy activities like exercise or meditation. Limit exposure to alcohol-rich environments until you feel confident to resist cravings.
  2. Build a support system. Overcoming cravings is easier with a support system of friends, family, or professionals. Counseling or support groups provide resources for reducing cravings. Additionally, online spaces (like Reframe’s 24/7, anonymous Forums!) offer a community of like-minded individuals with whom you can share your struggles and swap tips. 

  3. Develop effective coping mechanisms. Implement healthy coping mechanisms like deep breathing and mindfulness. Being present and aware of our thoughts, feelings, and surroundings helps us detach from cravings and reduce their intensity.
  4. Find (healthy!) distractions. Redirect your attention toward satisfying or pleasurable pursuits, such as hobbies or spending time with loved ones. Engaging in enjoyable activities has been shown to reduce cravings, so make time for the people and things that make you feel your best.
  5. Practice self-care. Prioritize your physical and emotional well-being throughout the withdrawal process by practicing good self-care. This includes exercise, healthy eating, and sufficient sleep, among other grounding practices. These basic lifestyle behaviors help us reduce stress and anxiety, common triggers for alcohol cravings.

Stage 4: Weeks 2-4

As the journey of alcohol withdrawal progresses into its second to fourth weeks, the recovery landscape undergoes a significant shift. The acute physical symptoms, which are usually intense and immediately noticeable, begin to wane. The body, having grappled with the immediate absence of alcohol, is beginning to recuperate. But while these physical manifestations diminish, the psychological challenges amplify. This transition marks the onset of post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).

PAWS represents a prolonged period of withdrawal symptoms, which can stretch out for several months. The distinguishing factor of PAWS is its predominantly psychological nature. Whereas the earlier stages of withdrawal were characterized by tangible physical symptoms, PAWS primarily presents challenges that are cognitive and emotional.

Among the myriad of symptoms, irritability stands out. This isn't just an occasional bad mood, but a consistent undercurrent of frustration and agitation. Sleep disturbances are also rampant, and we may find ourselves either battling insomnia or experiencing disrupted sleep patterns. Anxiety, too, takes center stage, casting shadows of doubt, worry, and fear — even in scenarios that don’t warrant such reactions.

Perhaps the most daunting aspect of PAWS is the potential onset of depression. The weight of this emotional state can be heavy, coloring every facet of our life with a hue of hopelessness or sadness. The world seems bleaker, and motivation may be hard to muster.

The complexity of PAWS makes it crucial for us to lean on a robust support system. These symptoms are less visible than their physical counterparts, so empathetic friends, family, and peers are invaluable. Constant reassurances, regular check-ins, and an understanding ear can make a world of difference.

However, the persistence or intensification of PAWS symptoms should not be brushed aside as mere side effects of recovery. If these symptoms begin to impede our daily life or cast a pall over our well-being, professional intervention becomes necessary. A physician or a therapist can provide clarity, direction, and potential treatments to manage and alleviate these symptoms.

There's a societal narrative that often equates seeking help with weakness, but this couldn't be further from the truth. Asking for support, especially during challenging times, is a testament to our strength and commitment to healing. Embracing this journey of recovery from alcohol is a commendable feat in itself, a step towards a healthier and more harmonious life.

Stage 5: Months 1-6

The first six months of alcohol-free living are a critical period for those of us adjusting to this lifestyle. While PAWS symptoms may gradually decrease, we need to remain vigilant in managing our cravings and maintaining our alcohol-free habits. During this time, it's essential to continue practicing our healthy coping strategies, such as exercise, meditation, and therapy, to support the recovery process.

We may also feel ready to start sharing our story with others. Whether we choose to discuss our previous relationship with alcohol with friends and loved ones, or more publicly at events or online, this openness and vulnerability is a big part of the healing process. Your story can help so many others going through the same process, especially those who are a few steps behind and need a little encouragement. Telling your story can also remind you of your own growth and progress. Your alcohol-free story matters, and it deserves to be shared with the world!

Stage 6: Beyond 6 Months

For many of us, this six-month period becomes the beacon that illuminates the vast capacities of the human spirit and body to heal and rejuvenate.

For many of us, by the time we reach the six-month point in our sobriety journey, the intensity and frequency of our cravings often diminish. Our once-overwhelming thoughts and urges related to alcohol start to wane, making daily life more manageable. This is not just a physical reprieve; it’s a profound psychological one. It reinforces the  powerful, hopeful notion that no condition is eternal — change is not just possible but inevitable. The body, with its intricate systems and resilience, undergoes a remarkable journey of repair and restoration.

However, as with all profound transformations, sobriety is not a destination but a continual journey. Even in the relative ease that might dawn after six months, we must remain vigilant. The initial triggers or circumstances that led to our alcohol dependence might still exist. It’s therefore crucial to hold onto the habits and the mindset shifts we developed during the recovery process. Whether we attend support group meetings, practice mindfulness, or engage in therapeutic activities, staying committed to these regimens ensures that the foundation of sobriety remains robust.

And as we tread this ongoing path, it’s vital to pause and acknowledge the milestones. Every day without alcohol, every challenge faced head-on, and every temptation resisted is a victory. These aren't just markers of time passing; they’re tangible evidence of strength, perseverance, and unwavering dedication. Celebrating these achievements, no matter how small they might seem, serves as a reminder of our potential and capabilities.

Final Thoughts on the Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

The alcohol withdrawal symptoms timeline can seem daunting, but understanding what to expect at each stage can make the process a little less arduous. As we've seen, withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe, and may last anywhere from days to months. However, with the right support and coping strategies, we can successfully navigate these challenges and get to the other side feeling confident and capable.

So, how much should you start cutting back as you work toward an alcohol-free lifestyle? We recommend that you cut back by no more than 10% per week to avoid adverse symptoms and dangerous complications.

Quitting alcohol requires courage! Not only does it involve a major lifestyle overhaul, but for many of us, the road to alcohol-free living comes with physical and psychological discomfort in the form of withdrawal. Unfortunately, some of us may return to alcohol use as a result of these challenges. But knowledge is power! If we know what to expect during the withdrawal process, we’re much more likely to stay the course. 

So, what can we really expect during the withdrawal process? In this blog post, we'll explore the various stages of the alcohol withdrawal timeline, breaking it down so you have a clear understanding of what lies ahead. We want to give you the information that’ll help you stick to your goals so you can become your healthiest self. Let’s get started!

Stage 1: Days 1-3

The onset of stage 1 of alcohol withdrawal usually materializes 6 to 12 hours after the last consumed drink. This brief window underscores the body's deep-rooted dependence on alcohol. When the body is used to a consistent supply of alcohol, its sudden absence disrupts the system, leading to a range of withdrawal symptoms.

During these initial days, the body manifests a spectrum of mild to moderate symptoms. The nervous system, which had adjusted to the presence of alcohol, suddenly finds itself in a hyperactive state. This abrupt change is most evident in the heightened state of anxiety many people experience. There's an inexplicable nervousness, a constant feeling of dread, and an underlying irritability that can make us snap at the smallest of triggers.

Digestive symptoms are also predominant at this stage. Nausea and vomiting can make eating a challenge. The body, already grappling with the absence of alcohol, needs nourishment, but the digestive upheaval can deter people from consuming substantial meals. This is why it's recommended to consume foods that are easy on the stomach. Bananas, rich in vital nutrients and known for their natural antacid properties, can offer relief. Light, hydrating soups (think broth-based, not cream-based) serve as an excellent option, too. It's not just about what we consume but also about what we should avoid. Excessive caffeine can further irritate the stomach and exacerbate anxiety.

Insomnia, another troubling symptom of this phase, can leave us feeling drained. The body craves rest, but the mind remains restless. Reducing screen time, especially during the evening, can help prepare the body for sleep. When a full night's sleep seems elusive, short naps during the day can replenish some energy.

Amid these physical symptoms, it's paramount to also address the emotional and psychological turmoil. The journey of withdrawal is as much (or more!) a mental battle as it is a physical one. Simple self-soothing practices, such a calming bubble bath, can offer temporary relief from the anxiety. For those familiar with Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) tapping, this can be a beneficial tool to employ during heightened states of stress.

Stage 2: Days 3-7

After making it through the initial phase, we enter the second stage, stretching from days 3 to 7, a period in which withdrawal symptoms can intensify considerably. Among the myriad possible symptoms, delirium tremens (DTs) stands out not just for its severity but also for its potentially life-threatening implications.

Delirium tremens, often shortened to DTs, is a severe manifestation of alcohol withdrawal. This condition is marked by acute episodes of agitation, a state of mental confusion or disorientation, and hallucinations. The hallucinations aren't only visual; we can also experience auditory and tactile hallucinations, hearing or feeling things that aren't present.

The onset of DTs is typically 48 to 72 hours after the last drink. However, the body's response to withdrawal can be unpredictable, and in some cases, the onset of DTs can be delayed, presenting itself up to 10 days after discontinuing alcohol. This variability in onset further underscores the need for close monitoring during the withdrawal phase.

Certain factors exacerbate the risk of developing DTs. Those of us with a history of multiple alcohol withdrawal episodes are more susceptible, as each withdrawal can make the nervous system more sensitive to the absence of alcohol. Prolonged periods of alcohol misuse can also increase the risk, given the profound impact long-term alcohol consumption can have on brain chemistry and structure. Additionally, those of us with existing medical conditions, especially liver diseases or infections, are at a heightened risk.

Given the severity of DTs, it’s imperative to recognize it as a medical emergency. A mere 5% of people withdrawing from alcohol might experience DTs, but it can be fatal if not addressed promptly. Elevated blood pressure, rapid heart rate, and fever often accompany the primary symptoms of DTs, making immediate medical attention even more critical.

If someone is suspected of experiencing DTs, they should not be left alone. Continuous supervision is essential, and immediate medical assistance should be sought. Hospitals or detoxification facilities are equipped to handle such emergencies, providing medications, monitoring vital signs, and ensuring the individual's safety.

Delirium tremens (DTS): Image illustrating alcohol withdrawal symptoms of confusion and shaking

Stage 3: Days 7-14

Good news! By the end of the first week and into the second, most physical withdrawal symptoms begin to subside. However, we may still face psychological symptoms such as mood swings, anxiety, and cravings for alcohol. It's essential to be aware of these challenges and to seek support from friends, family, or professionals to help manage these lingering symptoms.

Here are a few tips to stay a step ahead of cravings during this time and as you proceed with your journey:

  1. Avoid triggers. To stop alcohol cravings, recognize and avoid triggers like social events, stress, or boredom. Find alternative ways to cope, such as engaging in healthy activities like exercise or meditation. Limit exposure to alcohol-rich environments until you feel confident to resist cravings.
  2. Build a support system. Overcoming cravings is easier with a support system of friends, family, or professionals. Counseling or support groups provide resources for reducing cravings. Additionally, online spaces (like Reframe’s 24/7, anonymous Forums!) offer a community of like-minded individuals with whom you can share your struggles and swap tips. 

  3. Develop effective coping mechanisms. Implement healthy coping mechanisms like deep breathing and mindfulness. Being present and aware of our thoughts, feelings, and surroundings helps us detach from cravings and reduce their intensity.
  4. Find (healthy!) distractions. Redirect your attention toward satisfying or pleasurable pursuits, such as hobbies or spending time with loved ones. Engaging in enjoyable activities has been shown to reduce cravings, so make time for the people and things that make you feel your best.
  5. Practice self-care. Prioritize your physical and emotional well-being throughout the withdrawal process by practicing good self-care. This includes exercise, healthy eating, and sufficient sleep, among other grounding practices. These basic lifestyle behaviors help us reduce stress and anxiety, common triggers for alcohol cravings.

Stage 4: Weeks 2-4

As the journey of alcohol withdrawal progresses into its second to fourth weeks, the recovery landscape undergoes a significant shift. The acute physical symptoms, which are usually intense and immediately noticeable, begin to wane. The body, having grappled with the immediate absence of alcohol, is beginning to recuperate. But while these physical manifestations diminish, the psychological challenges amplify. This transition marks the onset of post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).

PAWS represents a prolonged period of withdrawal symptoms, which can stretch out for several months. The distinguishing factor of PAWS is its predominantly psychological nature. Whereas the earlier stages of withdrawal were characterized by tangible physical symptoms, PAWS primarily presents challenges that are cognitive and emotional.

Among the myriad of symptoms, irritability stands out. This isn't just an occasional bad mood, but a consistent undercurrent of frustration and agitation. Sleep disturbances are also rampant, and we may find ourselves either battling insomnia or experiencing disrupted sleep patterns. Anxiety, too, takes center stage, casting shadows of doubt, worry, and fear — even in scenarios that don’t warrant such reactions.

Perhaps the most daunting aspect of PAWS is the potential onset of depression. The weight of this emotional state can be heavy, coloring every facet of our life with a hue of hopelessness or sadness. The world seems bleaker, and motivation may be hard to muster.

The complexity of PAWS makes it crucial for us to lean on a robust support system. These symptoms are less visible than their physical counterparts, so empathetic friends, family, and peers are invaluable. Constant reassurances, regular check-ins, and an understanding ear can make a world of difference.

However, the persistence or intensification of PAWS symptoms should not be brushed aside as mere side effects of recovery. If these symptoms begin to impede our daily life or cast a pall over our well-being, professional intervention becomes necessary. A physician or a therapist can provide clarity, direction, and potential treatments to manage and alleviate these symptoms.

There's a societal narrative that often equates seeking help with weakness, but this couldn't be further from the truth. Asking for support, especially during challenging times, is a testament to our strength and commitment to healing. Embracing this journey of recovery from alcohol is a commendable feat in itself, a step towards a healthier and more harmonious life.

Stage 5: Months 1-6

The first six months of alcohol-free living are a critical period for those of us adjusting to this lifestyle. While PAWS symptoms may gradually decrease, we need to remain vigilant in managing our cravings and maintaining our alcohol-free habits. During this time, it's essential to continue practicing our healthy coping strategies, such as exercise, meditation, and therapy, to support the recovery process.

We may also feel ready to start sharing our story with others. Whether we choose to discuss our previous relationship with alcohol with friends and loved ones, or more publicly at events or online, this openness and vulnerability is a big part of the healing process. Your story can help so many others going through the same process, especially those who are a few steps behind and need a little encouragement. Telling your story can also remind you of your own growth and progress. Your alcohol-free story matters, and it deserves to be shared with the world!

Stage 6: Beyond 6 Months

For many of us, this six-month period becomes the beacon that illuminates the vast capacities of the human spirit and body to heal and rejuvenate.

For many of us, by the time we reach the six-month point in our sobriety journey, the intensity and frequency of our cravings often diminish. Our once-overwhelming thoughts and urges related to alcohol start to wane, making daily life more manageable. This is not just a physical reprieve; it’s a profound psychological one. It reinforces the  powerful, hopeful notion that no condition is eternal — change is not just possible but inevitable. The body, with its intricate systems and resilience, undergoes a remarkable journey of repair and restoration.

However, as with all profound transformations, sobriety is not a destination but a continual journey. Even in the relative ease that might dawn after six months, we must remain vigilant. The initial triggers or circumstances that led to our alcohol dependence might still exist. It’s therefore crucial to hold onto the habits and the mindset shifts we developed during the recovery process. Whether we attend support group meetings, practice mindfulness, or engage in therapeutic activities, staying committed to these regimens ensures that the foundation of sobriety remains robust.

And as we tread this ongoing path, it’s vital to pause and acknowledge the milestones. Every day without alcohol, every challenge faced head-on, and every temptation resisted is a victory. These aren't just markers of time passing; they’re tangible evidence of strength, perseverance, and unwavering dedication. Celebrating these achievements, no matter how small they might seem, serves as a reminder of our potential and capabilities.

Final Thoughts on the Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

The alcohol withdrawal symptoms timeline can seem daunting, but understanding what to expect at each stage can make the process a little less arduous. As we've seen, withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe, and may last anywhere from days to months. However, with the right support and coping strategies, we can successfully navigate these challenges and get to the other side feeling confident and capable.

So, how much should you start cutting back as you work toward an alcohol-free lifestyle? We recommend that you cut back by no more than 10% per week to avoid adverse symptoms and dangerous complications.

Popular
Drinking Habits
2023-02-21 9:00
Drinking Habits
Popular
The Benefits of Quitting or Cutting Back on Alcohol
This is some text inside of a div block.

How hard is it to quit drinking? Many individuals struggle with cutting back on alcohol consumption or quitting drinking altogether. Although the task may seem daunting, it is possible to achieve an alcohol-free lifestyle and reap the many rewards that come along with it, including reduced health complications, sustained weight loss, and healthier replacements for drinking. Through support available on the Reframe app and self-care, anyone can form a healthier relationship with alcohol - or even abstain - if they want to.

7 min read

Our Approach at Reframe

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol.

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

Read Full Article  →

Whether we’re aware of it or not, alcohol’s presence is everywhere. We live in a society that normalizes binge drinking and popping a bottle for every occasion. This means alcohol at birthday parties, at weddings, at graduation celebrations … there’s no escaping it!

However, social norms around alcohol are undergoing a subtle shift. We’ve seen this with the rise of Dry January, as well as with all of the celebrities who are speaking out about their own sobriety journeys. It’s becoming more normalized to question whether alcohol really serves us.

Perhaps you’ve been sober curious for a while, or you’d just like to cut back on your alcohol intake. Whatever your goal is, there are several benefits of quitting alcohol (or if you are not ready, cutting back on alcohol) — physical, emotional, and social. Here are a few to expect. 

Benefit #1: Improved Physical Health

We’re well aware of what alcohol can do to our bodies, especially if we’ve ever been hungover. While we’ve likely experienced short-term effects such as hangovers, there are several long-term health risks that increase when we consume alcohol to excess.

When we drink too much alcohol in the long run, this can lead to liver dysfunction, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, weight gain, weakened immunity, and even a greater risk of developing certain cancers.

The dangers of excess alcohol consumption have even become a global public health issue. The World Health Organization attributes 5.1% of the global burden of disease to alcohol consumption. And over 3 million alcohol-related deaths (or 5.3% of all deaths) occur worldwide each year.

When we significantly cut back on alcohol — or quit drinking altogether — we dramatically lower our risk of a variety of ailments. In fact, a 2018 study found that participants who underwent a short-term period of sobriety lost weight, had improved blood pressure, and contained fewer cancer-related growth factors in their blood.

Benefit #2: Better Mental Health

Anyone who’s ever experienced “hangxiety” can attest — the mental health effects brought about by alcohol can be agonizing! Not only this, but those of us who already struggle with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues can experience an increase in our symptoms once alcohol’s effects wear off. This can keep us stuck in an endless cycle in which we drink to feel better, then feel worse, and so on.

Though alcohol can bring about temporary stress relief, in the long run, it’s throwing many of our hormones and neurotransmitters out of balance. This can cause mental health challenges, or exacerbate existing issues.

When we quit or cut back on alcohol, we remove its influence over our brain chemistry, and thus, allow our bodies to return to their baseline.

In the beginning this can be challenging, as we must turn to healthier coping mechanisms to avoid a return to previous alcohol use. However, over time, when we stop relying on alcohol to boost our moods, we can get the same benefits through healthier activities.

For example, we can meditate, walk in nature, play board games with friends, sweat in an exercise class, or dance it out to live music. The list is endless when we look consciously for opportunities to entertain ourselves or relax without alcohol.

A diagram showing alcohol increasing anxiety levels, causing stress and negative emotions

Benefit #3: A Healthier Complexion

All too often, we don’t think of alcohol as an issue when it comes to our looks. But overindulging in alcohol can influence our external appearance in many ways. Now, we should be clear — there’s nothing vain about wanting to improve our appearance!

We may have noticed drier skin after a night of heavy drinking. This is because alcohol is a diuretic, which means it promotes greater urine production. We become dehydrated more quickly when we’re drinking, and this can manifest externally through dry, dull skin.

Drinking too much alcohol can also make our eyes puffy. When we’re losing water through our urine, the body retains water in certain areas to compensate. One of these is under the eyes. Alcohol can also lead to sleep deprivation (which we’ll chat more about in the next section), contributing to puffy, bloodshot eyes.

If we’ve lacked that desired “glow” for a while, alcohol can definitely be to blame! When we reduce or remove it, we ensure that our skin stays more hydrated. And thus, our complexion will improve.

Benefit #4: Higher Energy Levels

Who doesn’t want more energy?! Between our many responsibilities between home, work, and social commitments, it can feel like we’re always running on low battery. Now, throw alcohol into the mix, and this can deplete us even further. 

But how?

Alcohol is a natural depressant, meaning it slows our nervous systems down. In the hours following alcohol consumption, we may feel relaxed, lethargic, and even a little drowsy. Many people think this can help them fall asleep faster and sleep better, but science suggests this is false.

Alcohol actually impacts the quality and quantity of our sleep by interfering with our sleep cycles. Throughout an average night, we’ll go through four to six sleep cycles. One important part of the sleep cycle is REM, or rapid eye movement sleep. It helps us consolidate memories and regulate our emotions, so when we miss out on REM sleep, we’re more irritable and mentally foggy the next day. 

When we consume alcohol, it can also cause fragmented sleep, waking us up several times throughout the night. This can make us feel sluggish and fatigued the following day. 

Once we quit drinking, or cut back significantly, we can experience improvements in our overall sleep quality (and quantity!). As a result, we’ll have much more energy — physically and emotionally.

Benefit #5: Improved Physical Fitness 

Alcoholic beverages are high in calories (a typical margarita has a whopping 700!). This typically comes from much of the added sugar — whether that’s through soda, juice, or flavored syrups.

When we drink high-calorie alcoholic beverages, our body prioritizes processing and getting rid of the alcohol before anything else. That means the extra sugar gets stored as fat, leading to weight gain. We can do all the crunches and bench presses we want. But as long as alcohol still plays a big role in our lives, we won’t be able to achieve the optimal results of our efforts.

However, when we take alcohol out of the picture, or reduce its presence in our lives, we recalibrate our metabolism. This can make it easier to lose or maintain our weight, and we’ll also notice more changes in our fitness levels when we exercise.

Furthermore, alcohol can also impact the digestive system, making it harder for our bodies to absorb certain key nutrients. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol can inflame the gut lining and lead to intestinal permeability. This can put us at greater risk for nutrient deficiencies, even if we’re already eating a very healthy diet.

By cutting back on (or quitting) alcohol, we can promote gut healing, which, alongside a nutrient-dense diet, can help us take in all of the essential vitamins and minerals we need to maintain our health and fitness.

Benefit #6: Healthier Relationships

Unhealthy drinking habits can be a huge strain on our relationships. Perhaps we’ve said something we later regretted, missed out on an important event, or simply didn’t have the emotional bandwidth to support a loved one in need.

Alcohol can make us moody and unreliable, and can also make our communication less effective. This can lead to friends and family members becoming frustrated with us, and we may find ourselves in more arguments after a bout of heavy drinking.

Relationships require effort, and if alcohol is impacting our ability to be present with those who matter to us, then we must question the role it’s currently playing in our lives.

When we start cutting back or quitting, we take back the power to be the loyal friend or parent that our loved ones need. This can also improve our own well-being by reducing the amount of shame or regret we feel over our actions.

And the good news is, we can still enjoy time with our friends and loved ones in an alcohol-free fashion! This can look like finding alternative ways of fun — like taking a scenic sunset hike or enjoying a delicious brunch with some alcohol-free mocktails. Those who truly care about us will support our decision to cut back or quit.

Benefit #7: Fewer Memory Issues

Whether we can’t remember specific details from the night before, or experienced a full-on blackout, alcohol can impair our memory in the short term. (And can lead to long-term memory impairment, as well.)

When we consume alcohol, it disrupts our ability to encode new information. (It’s the classic “in one ear and out the other” phenomenon.) We may have trouble remembering things, like people’s names or where we placed one of our belongings. New information that we take in while we consume alcohol misses its chance of entering our long-term memory because of the disruption in the memory formation process.

And as we discussed earlier, alcohol also interferes with our REM sleep, which is essential for memory consolidation. When we reduce our alcohol intake, or quit altogether, our overall sleep can improve, which means that our memory will be much stronger.

Whether we’re aware of it or not, alcohol’s presence is everywhere. We live in a society that normalizes binge drinking and popping a bottle for every occasion. This means alcohol at birthday parties, at weddings, at graduation celebrations … there’s no escaping it!

However, social norms around alcohol are undergoing a subtle shift. We’ve seen this with the rise of Dry January, as well as with all of the celebrities who are speaking out about their own sobriety journeys. It’s becoming more normalized to question whether alcohol really serves us.

Perhaps you’ve been sober curious for a while, or you’d just like to cut back on your alcohol intake. Whatever your goal is, there are several benefits of quitting alcohol (or if you are not ready, cutting back on alcohol) — physical, emotional, and social. Here are a few to expect. 

Benefit #1: Improved Physical Health

We’re well aware of what alcohol can do to our bodies, especially if we’ve ever been hungover. While we’ve likely experienced short-term effects such as hangovers, there are several long-term health risks that increase when we consume alcohol to excess.

When we drink too much alcohol in the long run, this can lead to liver dysfunction, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, weight gain, weakened immunity, and even a greater risk of developing certain cancers.

The dangers of excess alcohol consumption have even become a global public health issue. The World Health Organization attributes 5.1% of the global burden of disease to alcohol consumption. And over 3 million alcohol-related deaths (or 5.3% of all deaths) occur worldwide each year.

When we significantly cut back on alcohol — or quit drinking altogether — we dramatically lower our risk of a variety of ailments. In fact, a 2018 study found that participants who underwent a short-term period of sobriety lost weight, had improved blood pressure, and contained fewer cancer-related growth factors in their blood.

Benefit #2: Better Mental Health

Anyone who’s ever experienced “hangxiety” can attest — the mental health effects brought about by alcohol can be agonizing! Not only this, but those of us who already struggle with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues can experience an increase in our symptoms once alcohol’s effects wear off. This can keep us stuck in an endless cycle in which we drink to feel better, then feel worse, and so on.

Though alcohol can bring about temporary stress relief, in the long run, it’s throwing many of our hormones and neurotransmitters out of balance. This can cause mental health challenges, or exacerbate existing issues.

When we quit or cut back on alcohol, we remove its influence over our brain chemistry, and thus, allow our bodies to return to their baseline.

In the beginning this can be challenging, as we must turn to healthier coping mechanisms to avoid a return to previous alcohol use. However, over time, when we stop relying on alcohol to boost our moods, we can get the same benefits through healthier activities.

For example, we can meditate, walk in nature, play board games with friends, sweat in an exercise class, or dance it out to live music. The list is endless when we look consciously for opportunities to entertain ourselves or relax without alcohol.

A diagram showing alcohol increasing anxiety levels, causing stress and negative emotions

Benefit #3: A Healthier Complexion

All too often, we don’t think of alcohol as an issue when it comes to our looks. But overindulging in alcohol can influence our external appearance in many ways. Now, we should be clear — there’s nothing vain about wanting to improve our appearance!

We may have noticed drier skin after a night of heavy drinking. This is because alcohol is a diuretic, which means it promotes greater urine production. We become dehydrated more quickly when we’re drinking, and this can manifest externally through dry, dull skin.

Drinking too much alcohol can also make our eyes puffy. When we’re losing water through our urine, the body retains water in certain areas to compensate. One of these is under the eyes. Alcohol can also lead to sleep deprivation (which we’ll chat more about in the next section), contributing to puffy, bloodshot eyes.

If we’ve lacked that desired “glow” for a while, alcohol can definitely be to blame! When we reduce or remove it, we ensure that our skin stays more hydrated. And thus, our complexion will improve.

Benefit #4: Higher Energy Levels

Who doesn’t want more energy?! Between our many responsibilities between home, work, and social commitments, it can feel like we’re always running on low battery. Now, throw alcohol into the mix, and this can deplete us even further. 

But how?

Alcohol is a natural depressant, meaning it slows our nervous systems down. In the hours following alcohol consumption, we may feel relaxed, lethargic, and even a little drowsy. Many people think this can help them fall asleep faster and sleep better, but science suggests this is false.

Alcohol actually impacts the quality and quantity of our sleep by interfering with our sleep cycles. Throughout an average night, we’ll go through four to six sleep cycles. One important part of the sleep cycle is REM, or rapid eye movement sleep. It helps us consolidate memories and regulate our emotions, so when we miss out on REM sleep, we’re more irritable and mentally foggy the next day. 

When we consume alcohol, it can also cause fragmented sleep, waking us up several times throughout the night. This can make us feel sluggish and fatigued the following day. 

Once we quit drinking, or cut back significantly, we can experience improvements in our overall sleep quality (and quantity!). As a result, we’ll have much more energy — physically and emotionally.

Benefit #5: Improved Physical Fitness 

Alcoholic beverages are high in calories (a typical margarita has a whopping 700!). This typically comes from much of the added sugar — whether that’s through soda, juice, or flavored syrups.

When we drink high-calorie alcoholic beverages, our body prioritizes processing and getting rid of the alcohol before anything else. That means the extra sugar gets stored as fat, leading to weight gain. We can do all the crunches and bench presses we want. But as long as alcohol still plays a big role in our lives, we won’t be able to achieve the optimal results of our efforts.

However, when we take alcohol out of the picture, or reduce its presence in our lives, we recalibrate our metabolism. This can make it easier to lose or maintain our weight, and we’ll also notice more changes in our fitness levels when we exercise.

Furthermore, alcohol can also impact the digestive system, making it harder for our bodies to absorb certain key nutrients. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol can inflame the gut lining and lead to intestinal permeability. This can put us at greater risk for nutrient deficiencies, even if we’re already eating a very healthy diet.

By cutting back on (or quitting) alcohol, we can promote gut healing, which, alongside a nutrient-dense diet, can help us take in all of the essential vitamins and minerals we need to maintain our health and fitness.

Benefit #6: Healthier Relationships

Unhealthy drinking habits can be a huge strain on our relationships. Perhaps we’ve said something we later regretted, missed out on an important event, or simply didn’t have the emotional bandwidth to support a loved one in need.

Alcohol can make us moody and unreliable, and can also make our communication less effective. This can lead to friends and family members becoming frustrated with us, and we may find ourselves in more arguments after a bout of heavy drinking.

Relationships require effort, and if alcohol is impacting our ability to be present with those who matter to us, then we must question the role it’s currently playing in our lives.

When we start cutting back or quitting, we take back the power to be the loyal friend or parent that our loved ones need. This can also improve our own well-being by reducing the amount of shame or regret we feel over our actions.

And the good news is, we can still enjoy time with our friends and loved ones in an alcohol-free fashion! This can look like finding alternative ways of fun — like taking a scenic sunset hike or enjoying a delicious brunch with some alcohol-free mocktails. Those who truly care about us will support our decision to cut back or quit.

Benefit #7: Fewer Memory Issues

Whether we can’t remember specific details from the night before, or experienced a full-on blackout, alcohol can impair our memory in the short term. (And can lead to long-term memory impairment, as well.)

When we consume alcohol, it disrupts our ability to encode new information. (It’s the classic “in one ear and out the other” phenomenon.) We may have trouble remembering things, like people’s names or where we placed one of our belongings. New information that we take in while we consume alcohol misses its chance of entering our long-term memory because of the disruption in the memory formation process.

And as we discussed earlier, alcohol also interferes with our REM sleep, which is essential for memory consolidation. When we reduce our alcohol intake, or quit altogether, our overall sleep can improve, which means that our memory will be much stronger.

Drinking Habits
Popular
2023-01-20 9:00
Drinking Habits
Popular
6 Small (Yet Effective) Steps To Help You Change Your Drinking Habits
This is some text inside of a div block.

Taking the stairs, stretching after long periods of sitting, drinking plenty of water — these are all small yet powerful habits we can turn to for better health. While we aren’t likely to see drastic improvements in our well-being overnight with new habits, actions like these compound over time and lead to profound changes.

14 min read
Read Full Article  →

Taking the stairs, stretching after long periods of sitting, drinking plenty of water — these are all small yet powerful habits we can turn to for better health. While we aren’t likely to see drastic improvements in our well-being overnight with new habits, actions like these compound over time and lead to profound changes.

So, how does alcohol tie in with all of this? Can we apply the same idea when changing our drinking habits?

You bet!

When we take incremental steps to cut back on alcohol, and when we stick to our drinking goals over time, we can improve our well-being in many ways. Let’s chat about how we can implement realistic drinking habits, and then discuss potential changes we can make to drink less alcohol.

The Importance of Changing Your Drinking Habits

Here at Reframe, we’re all about science, not stigma. We want to give you the knowledge to change your life for the better, and this starts with understanding how alcohol impacts every area of your life.

We’re well aware of alcohol’s damaging long-term impact — from an increased risk of health issues like liver disease to mental health challenges like depression and anxiety to relationship conflicts.

Cutting back on our drinking reduces our chances of adverse outcomes like these, and gives us the clarity we need to replace negative habits with better ones.

Whether we’re talking about our health, work, or personal relationships, a steady stream of positive behaviors can help promote long-term growth and development. And when we’re implementing new habits and behaviors, the best way to make lasting changes is to start small, have a plan, and above all, be patient with ourselves.

Okay, this sounds great… but how do we find the motivation to change? Especially if we’re still struggling with our alcohol intake?

These are important questions to consider, because we need both the motivation and the ability to create these habits, as these two components work together to form the foundation of positive change.

Motivation gives us the drive to take action, while ability allows us to follow through on our goals and put them into practice. It is essential to understand what motivates us and what challenges we might face along the way. For instance, what motivates you to change? Is it a desire to reduce your disease risk? To feel happier? To be more present with your loved ones? Start considering your biggest reasons to change, as these can be helpful in sustaining your motivation.

The next step to changing our drinking habits is identifying any obstacles that could prevent our success. Do we have major triggers? Do we have a hard time sticking to our limits in social settings? By gaining this knowledge, we can devise strategies for overcoming any barriers that may arise, so we can move forward confidently and achieve our goals. With motivation and the ability to work in tandem, nothing can stand in our way — even when it comes to drinking less.

How to Be Realistic When Changing Your Drinking Habits

Asking too much of ourselves too soon is a surefire recipe for overwhelm. In the context of alcohol reduction, for example, we might set an ambitious goal of cutting back to two drinks per week, even though we’re currently a two-glasses-of-wine-before-bed person. Though this ambitious goal sounds good in theory, we have to give ourselves time to gradually cut back.

Instead of trying to change too quickly, we can find a small and sustainable habit to replace our current drinking behaviors. Perhaps we might try swapping out a glass of wine for a mocktail once a week. Once our bodies have adapted to this adjustment, then we can make the swap another day, and so on, until we’ve reached our goal of drinking twice per week.

Over time, our brains will get used to having the mocktail every evening. In fact, by practicing habit change within the same context — like changing our drink before bed — we’re more likely to make it stick.

6 Tips for Changing Your Drinking Habits

We understand why changing our drinking habits is important, and how we can go about doing so in a realistic manner. Now, let's dive into six tips you can implement today to change your drinking habits.

Tip #1: Limit time in bars.

Spending too much time in bars is not great for cutting back, especially if we’re still new to this lifestyle.

For many, bars can be a trigger for excessive drinking — there’s the social pressure, the desire to “loosen up,” and the loud music that can push us to make risky drinking decisions. (Science has actually made a link between party music and alcohol misuse.)

Though we don’t have to avoid bars completely, it’s important to limit our time in them.

If a friend invites us to a happy hour, we can suggest an alternative activity, like grabbing coffee or taking a hike. In the instances where we do go to events at bars, we can plan to leave early.

Tip #2: Skip drinking alone.

When we become accustomed to drinking alone, it’s easier and more tempting to rely on alcohol to help us cope with difficult situations. A lot of this is because when we drink alone, there’s no one to hold us accountable to our limits.

However, this can make us drink more than we’re comfortable with, and later lead to feelings of shame and guilt.

If drinking alone is an issue for us, we can first identify the reasons we drink alone. Are we feeling lonely, stressed, or anxious? Finding healthier ways to cope with these emotions can reduce the urge to drink alone.

We can also seek out social activities and hobbies that we enjoy. Joining a club, group, or class that interests us can give us a sense of purpose and help us connect with people who share our goals and values.

Furthermore, if drinking alone is an issue for us, we can make a plan. This can look like deciding ahead of time what we will do instead of drinking alone when the urge strikes. This could be going for a walk, calling a friend, or engaging in another activity that we enjoy. Over time, our brain will pick up on loneliness cues, and push us to engage in behaviors that will help us combat it.

Tips for changing drinking habits - 6 effective ways to cut down on alcohol consumption
Tip #3: Find comfort elsewhere.

It may be tempting to drink for solace when feeling down or upset. Still, it is important to remember that alcohol is actually a depressant — it slows our brains and bodies down — and can exacerbate negative emotions. Instead of turning to alcohol for comfort or relief, we should focus on finding other ways to cope with complicated feelings, such as turning to a relaxing activity or talking to friends and family.

Not only will this help us avoid the potentially dangerous consequences of excessive drinking, but it will also allow us to enjoy the positive effects of drinking in moderation and celebrate life's moments with greater presence.

Tip #4: Disrupt existing drinking routines.

Let’s face it. Our bodies crave regularity, and routines around drinking are no exception.

We may have our favorite drinking routines:

  • A pre-dinner cocktail
  • A few beers with the game on the weekend
  • A glass of wine after a long day at work

It can be easy to drink on autopilot when we find ourselves in certain situations. Our bodies associate a certain event (i.e., dinner time) with a drink, and thus, we end up mixing ourselves a margarita without putting much thought into why we’re doing so.

One simple tactic to reduce our alcohol consumption is setting goals for how much we will drink throughout the week. Whether this means pre-planning our drinks, scheduling days off from drinking altogether, or limiting ourselves to just two glasses of wine per night, finding specific, achievable numbers can make all the difference.

Tip #5: Track your progress.

Many people are unaware of just how many alcoholic drinks they consume on a daily or weekly basis. Whether it's an occasional glass of wine with dinner or our regular night out at the bar with friends, it can be challenging to keep track of the total number and size of our drinks.

Another vital step is to keep track of how much we’re actually drinking with the Reframe app and be conscious of it every time we reach for another glass.

Having our limits written down can also play a big role in accountability, as we’ll be more likely to stick to goals when they’re physically listed out.

Along with setting drinking limits, it's also essential to find alternate ways to deal with stress and pressure as they come up throughout the week. Stress is part of being human, and though we can’t always control what’s happening around us, we can dial into self-care when we need it.

There are a lot of ways to handle stress without turning to alcohol! Consider meditation, yoga, exercise, reading... whatever works best! Making these a part of our routine, rather than heading straight for the bottle, will make a world of difference in managing those high-pressure moments without upping our overall intake.

Tip #6: Opt for lower-proof options.

Alcohol is a standard part of many social events, and we may find ourselves consuming drinks without knowing how much alcohol is in them. With high-proof alcohol such as gin, vodka, or whiskey often the drink of choice, many drinkers are at risk of serious health problems due to heavy consumption. And with binge drinking on the rise, it’s easy to overconsume high-proof beverages, especially when peer pressure is involved.

Thankfully, there are many ways to enjoy mixed drinks without these high levels of alcohol. For example, we could use seltzer water as a mixer instead of other types of alcohol. Additionally, by spacing out our drinks with non-alcoholic beverages and avoiding drinking to quench our thirst, we can reduce our overall alcohol intake and stay healthy and safe.

Finally, we can choose to drink mocktails after we’ve reached our alcoholic beverage limits. It can often feel awkward to be the only one at a social event without a drink in our hands, so mocktails can allow us to partake while sticking to our alcohol reduction goals.

Key Takeaways

Drinking less alcohol can bring many positive changes to our lives — improvements in our physical health, our mood, our relationships, and so much more. We can use the six steps we discussed today to begin swapping unhealthy drinking habits for healthier ones.

And above all, remember that your alcohol reduction journey doesn’t have to be confusing.

Reframe has an alcohol tracking system that comes in handy. Using this, you can stay on top of your intake and make more informed decisions about how much you drink. Download Reframe and try out our 1-week free trial today. We'll see you soon!

Taking the stairs, stretching after long periods of sitting, drinking plenty of water — these are all small yet powerful habits we can turn to for better health. While we aren’t likely to see drastic improvements in our well-being overnight with new habits, actions like these compound over time and lead to profound changes.

So, how does alcohol tie in with all of this? Can we apply the same idea when changing our drinking habits?

You bet!

When we take incremental steps to cut back on alcohol, and when we stick to our drinking goals over time, we can improve our well-being in many ways. Let’s chat about how we can implement realistic drinking habits, and then discuss potential changes we can make to drink less alcohol.

The Importance of Changing Your Drinking Habits

Here at Reframe, we’re all about science, not stigma. We want to give you the knowledge to change your life for the better, and this starts with understanding how alcohol impacts every area of your life.

We’re well aware of alcohol’s damaging long-term impact — from an increased risk of health issues like liver disease to mental health challenges like depression and anxiety to relationship conflicts.

Cutting back on our drinking reduces our chances of adverse outcomes like these, and gives us the clarity we need to replace negative habits with better ones.

Whether we’re talking about our health, work, or personal relationships, a steady stream of positive behaviors can help promote long-term growth and development. And when we’re implementing new habits and behaviors, the best way to make lasting changes is to start small, have a plan, and above all, be patient with ourselves.

Okay, this sounds great… but how do we find the motivation to change? Especially if we’re still struggling with our alcohol intake?

These are important questions to consider, because we need both the motivation and the ability to create these habits, as these two components work together to form the foundation of positive change.

Motivation gives us the drive to take action, while ability allows us to follow through on our goals and put them into practice. It is essential to understand what motivates us and what challenges we might face along the way. For instance, what motivates you to change? Is it a desire to reduce your disease risk? To feel happier? To be more present with your loved ones? Start considering your biggest reasons to change, as these can be helpful in sustaining your motivation.

The next step to changing our drinking habits is identifying any obstacles that could prevent our success. Do we have major triggers? Do we have a hard time sticking to our limits in social settings? By gaining this knowledge, we can devise strategies for overcoming any barriers that may arise, so we can move forward confidently and achieve our goals. With motivation and the ability to work in tandem, nothing can stand in our way — even when it comes to drinking less.

How to Be Realistic When Changing Your Drinking Habits

Asking too much of ourselves too soon is a surefire recipe for overwhelm. In the context of alcohol reduction, for example, we might set an ambitious goal of cutting back to two drinks per week, even though we’re currently a two-glasses-of-wine-before-bed person. Though this ambitious goal sounds good in theory, we have to give ourselves time to gradually cut back.

Instead of trying to change too quickly, we can find a small and sustainable habit to replace our current drinking behaviors. Perhaps we might try swapping out a glass of wine for a mocktail once a week. Once our bodies have adapted to this adjustment, then we can make the swap another day, and so on, until we’ve reached our goal of drinking twice per week.

Over time, our brains will get used to having the mocktail every evening. In fact, by practicing habit change within the same context — like changing our drink before bed — we’re more likely to make it stick.

6 Tips for Changing Your Drinking Habits

We understand why changing our drinking habits is important, and how we can go about doing so in a realistic manner. Now, let's dive into six tips you can implement today to change your drinking habits.

Tip #1: Limit time in bars.

Spending too much time in bars is not great for cutting back, especially if we’re still new to this lifestyle.

For many, bars can be a trigger for excessive drinking — there’s the social pressure, the desire to “loosen up,” and the loud music that can push us to make risky drinking decisions. (Science has actually made a link between party music and alcohol misuse.)

Though we don’t have to avoid bars completely, it’s important to limit our time in them.

If a friend invites us to a happy hour, we can suggest an alternative activity, like grabbing coffee or taking a hike. In the instances where we do go to events at bars, we can plan to leave early.

Tip #2: Skip drinking alone.

When we become accustomed to drinking alone, it’s easier and more tempting to rely on alcohol to help us cope with difficult situations. A lot of this is because when we drink alone, there’s no one to hold us accountable to our limits.

However, this can make us drink more than we’re comfortable with, and later lead to feelings of shame and guilt.

If drinking alone is an issue for us, we can first identify the reasons we drink alone. Are we feeling lonely, stressed, or anxious? Finding healthier ways to cope with these emotions can reduce the urge to drink alone.

We can also seek out social activities and hobbies that we enjoy. Joining a club, group, or class that interests us can give us a sense of purpose and help us connect with people who share our goals and values.

Furthermore, if drinking alone is an issue for us, we can make a plan. This can look like deciding ahead of time what we will do instead of drinking alone when the urge strikes. This could be going for a walk, calling a friend, or engaging in another activity that we enjoy. Over time, our brain will pick up on loneliness cues, and push us to engage in behaviors that will help us combat it.

Tips for changing drinking habits - 6 effective ways to cut down on alcohol consumption
Tip #3: Find comfort elsewhere.

It may be tempting to drink for solace when feeling down or upset. Still, it is important to remember that alcohol is actually a depressant — it slows our brains and bodies down — and can exacerbate negative emotions. Instead of turning to alcohol for comfort or relief, we should focus on finding other ways to cope with complicated feelings, such as turning to a relaxing activity or talking to friends and family.

Not only will this help us avoid the potentially dangerous consequences of excessive drinking, but it will also allow us to enjoy the positive effects of drinking in moderation and celebrate life's moments with greater presence.

Tip #4: Disrupt existing drinking routines.

Let’s face it. Our bodies crave regularity, and routines around drinking are no exception.

We may have our favorite drinking routines:

  • A pre-dinner cocktail
  • A few beers with the game on the weekend
  • A glass of wine after a long day at work

It can be easy to drink on autopilot when we find ourselves in certain situations. Our bodies associate a certain event (i.e., dinner time) with a drink, and thus, we end up mixing ourselves a margarita without putting much thought into why we’re doing so.

One simple tactic to reduce our alcohol consumption is setting goals for how much we will drink throughout the week. Whether this means pre-planning our drinks, scheduling days off from drinking altogether, or limiting ourselves to just two glasses of wine per night, finding specific, achievable numbers can make all the difference.

Tip #5: Track your progress.

Many people are unaware of just how many alcoholic drinks they consume on a daily or weekly basis. Whether it's an occasional glass of wine with dinner or our regular night out at the bar with friends, it can be challenging to keep track of the total number and size of our drinks.

Another vital step is to keep track of how much we’re actually drinking with the Reframe app and be conscious of it every time we reach for another glass.

Having our limits written down can also play a big role in accountability, as we’ll be more likely to stick to goals when they’re physically listed out.

Along with setting drinking limits, it's also essential to find alternate ways to deal with stress and pressure as they come up throughout the week. Stress is part of being human, and though we can’t always control what’s happening around us, we can dial into self-care when we need it.

There are a lot of ways to handle stress without turning to alcohol! Consider meditation, yoga, exercise, reading... whatever works best! Making these a part of our routine, rather than heading straight for the bottle, will make a world of difference in managing those high-pressure moments without upping our overall intake.

Tip #6: Opt for lower-proof options.

Alcohol is a standard part of many social events, and we may find ourselves consuming drinks without knowing how much alcohol is in them. With high-proof alcohol such as gin, vodka, or whiskey often the drink of choice, many drinkers are at risk of serious health problems due to heavy consumption. And with binge drinking on the rise, it’s easy to overconsume high-proof beverages, especially when peer pressure is involved.

Thankfully, there are many ways to enjoy mixed drinks without these high levels of alcohol. For example, we could use seltzer water as a mixer instead of other types of alcohol. Additionally, by spacing out our drinks with non-alcoholic beverages and avoiding drinking to quench our thirst, we can reduce our overall alcohol intake and stay healthy and safe.

Finally, we can choose to drink mocktails after we’ve reached our alcoholic beverage limits. It can often feel awkward to be the only one at a social event without a drink in our hands, so mocktails can allow us to partake while sticking to our alcohol reduction goals.

Key Takeaways

Drinking less alcohol can bring many positive changes to our lives — improvements in our physical health, our mood, our relationships, and so much more. We can use the six steps we discussed today to begin swapping unhealthy drinking habits for healthier ones.

And above all, remember that your alcohol reduction journey doesn’t have to be confusing.

Reframe has an alcohol tracking system that comes in handy. Using this, you can stay on top of your intake and make more informed decisions about how much you drink. Download Reframe and try out our 1-week free trial today. We'll see you soon!

Drinking Habits
Popular
2022-09-05 9:00
Drinking Habits
Popular
Motivational Tips for Changing Your Relationship With Alcohol
This is some text inside of a div block.

Ready to reframe your relationship with alcohol? Our latest blog is packed with creative and unique action steps designed to boost your motivation and enrich your life. Get ready to unleash your best self, from fitness to social connections and beyond!

28 min read

Join Reframe To Find Daily Motivation for Your Journey!

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol.

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

Read Full Article  →

When we think about making a change in our lives, whether it's modifying our relationship with alcohol or picking up a new hobby, the driving force often boils down to one word: motivation. But what is it about motivation that makes us lace up our shoes for a morning jog or reach for a sparkling water instead of a glass of wine?

When it comes to changing our relationship with alcohol, finding the motivation to change is all about learning to see it differently. We often give booze way more credit than it deserves, and the more we question its supposed benefits as a social lubricant or a way to relax, the more we find that there are many healthier — and more effective! — options out there. Let’s boost our motivation to stop drinking and build a life that reflects our true desires and potential.

The Science of Motivation

A man holding a beer bottle and flashing the peace sign

The brain drives all of our actions as it constantly evaluates rewards and consequences. When we decide to dosomething, it’s often a result of our brain calculating potential outcomes and benefits.

  • Dopamine, the reward molecule. This neurotransmitter plays a pivotal role in our motivation. When we anticipate a rewarding experience, dopamine is released, pushing us towards action. It's our brain's way of saying, "This feels good; let's keep going!"
  • The prefrontal cortex and goal setting. Just behind our forehead, the prefrontal cortex is responsible for decision-making and setting goals. It lets us envision a future reward and plan steps to achieve it.

External vs. Internal Motivation

There are two primary sources of motivation:

  • External motivation. This is driven by external rewards or threats. Think of getting a bonus for performing well or facing a deadline that sparks a flurry of activity.
  • Internal motivation. This springs from within, often linked to personal satisfaction or passion. For example, pursuing a hobby because it makes you happy, not because someone's rewarding you for it.

For lasting change — especially in personal journeys such as altering alcohol consumption — a mix of both kinds of motivation can be beneficial. If we’ve decided to quit drinking, motivation can help us keep going strong!

External motivations (like a health scare or societal pressure) might kickstart the journey. We know that excessive alcohol can damage the liver, heart, and pancreas. It can also weaken the immune system, making us more susceptible to diseases. And while alcohol might seem like a social lubricant, dependence can strain relationships and hinder personal growth — an effect that might have become painfully clear to us. All of these external motivations can help us get started.

However, for sustained change, internal motivation (like feeling healthier, clearer, or more in tune with ourselves) often takes the lead.

Harnessing Motivation To Change

Wondering where to draw motivation from? It’s a blend of understanding the benefits of change and believing in one's ability to achieve it. Here’s what science says about getting motivated:

  • Immediate benefits. Cutting back on alcohol can lead to better sleep, more energy, clearer skin, and improved cognitive function in as little as just a few days or weeks.
  • Long-term rewards. Over time, we decrease our risk of certain cancers, liver diseases, and increase our mental well-being.
  • Personal growth. Without alcohol as a crutch, many of us find we can address underlying emotions and experiences head-on, leading to personal development and stronger relationships.
  • Awaken our true energy. Alcohol can sap our energy and disrupt the sleep cycle. Imagine the zest and vigor you'll have when you greet each day feeling truly refreshed!
  • The wallet wins. Every time we choose not to buy a drink, we are saving up for authentically rewarding experiences — and those savings can add up quickly!
Tips for Changing Your Relationship With Alcohol

Motivation To Stop Drinking: Tips for Your Journey

If you're ready to change your relationship with alcohol, here's a list of science-backed steps to guide you:

1. Set Clear Goals and Chart Your Changes.

Whether it’s cutting back or quitting altogether, define what success looks like for you. Setting goals isn’t just about writing a wish on paper — it's about giving direction to your actions and decisions.

According to Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California, people who write down their goals are 42% more likely to achieve them than those who don't. The reason? Research shows that the act of writing triggers the brain's reticular activating system (RAS), attuning you to achieving your goal.

Goal Setting Steps

  1. Specificity is key. Instead of vaguely thinking, "I want to drink less," specify it. For instance, "I will only have two glasses of wine per week." This gives your intention weight and clarity.
  2. Break it down. Big goals can be daunting. If your ultimate goal is to be alcohol-free, break it into phases. Maybe you aim for alcohol-free weekdays first. Then, slowly expand that until you're alcohol-free for a whole month.
  3. Visualize the rewards. Take a moment to think about the positive changes and benefits you'll experience. Visualization is a science-backed way to amplify dopamine release and propel you forward.

Charting Tips

Once you’re on your way, start a journal documenting the positive changes you notice. This isn't merely for memories — it's about reinforcing the positive effects of your decision. From skin improvements to better digestion or sharper focus, seeing these benefits in writing can be a massive motivator! Here are some fun ways to chart your journey:

  1. Photo diary. Take a selfie every week. Over time, observe the changes — brighter eyes, clearer skin, and perhaps even a more genuine smile.

  2. Mood mapping. Dedicate a few minutes each evening to jot down your mood, noting any triggers or high points from the day. Over time, you'll likely see patterns, like improved moods and better stress management.
  3. Progress journal. This isn't just about logging alcohol-free days. Document sleep quality, energy levels, and even cognitive clarity. You'll be amazed to see how these elements improve over time.
  4. Achievement alerts. Set up alerts on your phone to celebrate milestones. Whether it's a week, a month, 90 days, or a year alcohol-free, every milestone deserves recognition.
  5. Visual aids. Create a colorful calendar dedicated to your alcohol journey. Mark alcohol-free days with a special sticker or symbol. Watching the pattern grow can be surprisingly motivating.
  6. Digital buddies. In today's tech-savvy age, apps can help monitor and reduce alcohol intake. Consider tools like Reframe to keep you on track!

Setting clear goals and tracking changes help structure your alcohol-free journey — and they enrich it. By witnessing firsthand your improvements and celebrating your little victories, you'll be more motivated and committed to this transformative path.

2. Discover New Tastes

Have you ever wondered why, after a period of drinking the same beverage, it starts to taste bland or not as exciting? That's our taste buds and brain in action! Alcohol, especially when consumed regularly, can dull our taste buds’ sensitivity. Additionally, the brain's reward system becomes accustomed to the pleasurable sensations alcohol provides, driving it to seek novelty — the same old thing inevitably gets boring.

When we decide to cut back or quit alcohol, we’re not just removing something from our life — instead, we’re adding a plethora of flavors, textures, and experiences we might have previously overlooked. Embracing the myriad of available beverages fills the void left by alcohol and enhances your sensory experiences, making every sip a delight.

Embarking on a Flavor Adventure

As you step back from alcohol, the world of flavors unfolds in front of you. Here are some tips for exploring the world of non-alcoholic beverages — you might just find your new favorite drink!

  1. Worldly beverages. Begin a world tour through beverages. Try Turkish tea, Japanese matcha, or African rooibos. These drinks come with rich histories, traditions, and unique preparation methods that make the experience about more than just sipping.
  2. Mocktail magic. Dive into the world of mocktails, non-alcoholic versions of popular cocktails that can be just as complex and refreshing. Plus, crafting them can become a fun, culinary hobby.
  3. DIY flavored water. Infuse your water with fresh fruits, herbs, and spices. Try combinations like cucumber-mint, strawberry-basil, or orange-rosemary. It's a hydrating and delightful way to treat your taste buds.
  4. Brew it up. Explore different brewing methods for coffee and teas. From the French press, cold brew, to the AeroPress for coffee, or the Chinese Gongfu style for tea, each method brings out unique flavors from the same bean or leaf.
  5. Taste-testing party. Host a tasting evening with friends where everyone brings a non-alcoholic drink from a different culture. It’s a fun way to discover new favorites and learn about the world.

3. Reignite Passion Projects

Alcohol can eat up free time (and that’s an understatement!). While it might feel like it sparks inspiration, scientific research indicates that consistent alcohol consumption hinders our cognitive processes, including creativity. Regular alcohol use tends to reduce our brain's ability to think divergently, which is crucial for imaginative activities and problem-solving.

By reducing or eliminating alcohol, we can harness a clearer mind, allowing latent or forgotten passions to resurface with renewed vigor. From book clubs to hiking groups or pottery classes, immersing ourselves in environments that foster genuine connections without the need for a drink can be a powerful motivator.

Steps To Awaken Your Inner Enthusiast

Rekindle old hobbies or start new ones with the time and energy you once dedicated to drinking:

  1. Rediscovery dive. Spend an afternoon going through old boxes, journals, or photo albums. Follow the trail of past hobbies or projects you were passionate about but left behind.
  2. Skill share. Join local workshops or online platforms like "Skillshare" to learn a new craft or skill. Whether it's pottery, digital art, or creative writing, there's a world waiting to be explored.
  3. Create a “project corner.” Dedicate a space in your home for your passion projects. This physical space acts as both motivation and a reminder to spend time doing what you love.
  4. Collaborate. Connect with like-minded individuals — join a community choir, a local theater group, or a knitting club. Working with others can reignite the flames of passion.
  5. Document the journey. Start a blog or Instagram page dedicated to your hobby. Documenting and sharing your progress not only keeps you accountable but also connects you with a community that appreciates your craft.
  6. Set mini milestones. If you’re painting, set a goal to complete a piece every month; if writing, aim for a chapter every week. Celebrate these milestones to maintain momentum.
  7. Rotate and reflect. Every few months, take a moment to reflect. If a hobby feels stale, it's okay to rotate it out for another. The goal is joy and fulfillment, not pressure.

Passion projects aren't just hobbies — they're an extension of ourselves. Alcohol, while once thought to be a muse, can often mute our creative spirit. By reigniting these projects, we don't just fill the void left by alcohol, but we also enrich our lives, adding layers of meaning, purpose, and joy.

4. Travel Triumphantly

Travel is often associated with new experiences, including culinary and beverage exploration. But here's an interesting fact: regular alcohol consumption can limit our brain's ability to form new memories — a phenomenon called "neurogenesis suppression." When we abstain or reduce alcohol while traveling, we not only have clearer memories of our adventures, but we also tend to engage more deeply with our surroundings.

Moreover, alcohol can disturb our sleep patterns. Jet lag, a common travel companion, is exacerbated by alcohol, making it harder for the body to adjust to new time zones.

Exploring the World With Clarity

Traveling triumphantly isn't about ticking off every landmark in your tour guide; it’s about immersing yourself deeply into new environments, forming vivid memories, and truly experiencing a place with all of your senses:

  1. Memory map. Carry a travel journal with you. Jot down your daily experiences, emotions, and observations to enhance your memories and create a precious keepsake.
  2. Local beverage exploration. Opt for non-alcoholic local beverages. Try a Moroccan mint tea, a Thai iced tea, or an Italian espresso! Dive into the authentic flavors of a region without the haze of alcohol.
  3. Active adventures. Instead of the usual touristy spots, find activities that get your body moving. Hike that mountain trail, rent a bicycle, or join a local dance class. These memorable experiences often don't revolve around alcohol!
  4. Cultural connect. Attend local workshops, craft sessions, or cooking classes. When your travel revolves around learning and connecting, alcohol naturally takes a backseat.
  5. Dawn patrol. Wake up early to catch the sunrise. Not only is this a magical experience, but early mornings also give you a few moments of beauty before the day's chaos begins.
  6. Photo challenge. Set a theme for each day of your trip, such as "shadows," "color," or "motion." Click pictures based on the theme, making you more observant and immersed in your surroundings.

When you return from a booze-free adventure, you carry back stories and experiences, not just souvenirs. So tie those laces and set out on a journey where every moment is treasured, every experience is lucid, and every memory is crystal clear. You don’t even have to go far — be a home-town tourist if you don’t have the time or funds to go away. Safe travels!

5. Fitness Flourish

Alcohol adds empty calories, depletes the body of essential nutrients, and can put a damper on our fitness goals by affecting protein synthesis and reducing endurance levels. As you reduce your intake, channel that energy into a fitness goal, like a 5k run, a new yoga pose, or hitting a personal best in the gym.

Breaking free or cutting back on alcohol propels your fitness journey, ensuring that every squat, sprint, or stretch delivers optimal results.

Steps To Energize Your Fitness Journey

Embracing fitness in the absence of alcohol gives your body better tools and materials to sculpt a masterpiece. Here are some tips to help you along the way:

  1. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals can transform your fitness regime. For instance, instead of "I want to get fit," try "I want to run 5 kilometers in under 30 minutes by December."
  2. Make it fun. Who said fitness can't be fun? Join a dance class, try rock climbing, or even trampoline workouts. The aim is to enjoy the process.
  3. Group dynamics. Group workouts or joining fitness communities can be highly motivating. The camaraderie and collective energy often push you further than solo sessions.
  4. Track progress. Use fitness apps or a good old diary to track your workouts, improvements, and how you feel after each session. Over time, this record will serve as a massive motivational tool.
  5. Celebrate milestones. Reached your goal of 50 push-ups? Or jogged without a break for 20 minutes? Celebrate these milestones! Find a new workout outfit, gadget, or a massage.
  6. Stay informed. Dedicate some time each week to read or watch something related to fitness. Knowledge keeps the motivation flame burning!

6. Stay Connected

It's a widely held belief that alcohol acts as a social lubricant, breaking the ice at gatherings. While it might momentarily ease social anxiety, chronic alcohol consumption can have a counterproductive effect on our interpersonal relationships. Scientifically speaking, alcohol can numb our emotional processing, creating barriers in understanding and empathizing with others. Over time, social interactions might become superficial or strained due to impaired judgment or actions under the influence.

However, being connected isn't just about being present at social events or being the life of the party. It's about the quality of interactions, the depth of conversations, and the warmth of emotions exchanged — all of which are much easier without booze.

Ways To Cultivate Authentic Connections

Here are some ways to build connections that last and enrich your life:

  1. Mindful meet-ups. Organize get-togethers where the focus is on conversation or an activity rather than on drinking. This could be a game night, a book club discussion, or even a cooking evening.
  2. Digital detox. Dedicate a day or a few hours every week to disconnect from electronic devices. Use this time to engage in face-to-face conversations, ensuring quality time with loved ones.
  3. Skill swap. Pair up with a friend and teach each other a skill or hobby. This could be painting, a musical instrument, or even a new sport. Learning together strengthens bonds!
  4. Reach out regularly. Make it a point to call or message someone you haven't spoken to in a while. Reignite old friendships and keep in touch once you do.
  5. Join community groups. Engage with your local community by joining interesting clubs or organizations to make new connections while grounding yourself within a supportive community.
  6. Active listening. When in conversation, practice active listening — fully concentrating, understanding, and responding to the other person. It’s a simple yet powerful way to deepen connections.

7. Educate Yourself

Our brain, remarkable and ever-evolving, thrives on learning. Neuroplasticity — the brain's ability to reorganize itself — is at its peak when we engage in new learning experiences. On the contrary, chronic alcohol consumption has been linked to diminished cognitive functions and can impede our brain's capability to form new neural pathways.

When we step back from alcohol, our brain flourishes, grows, and grasps new knowledge efficiently. Every nugget of information, every new skill, every fresh perspective adds an enriching, enlightening, fun layer to our personality.

How To Empower Yourself Through Learning

Here are some ways to get started:

  1. Book-a-week challenge. Set a goal to read a new book every week or month, depending on your pace. Dive into genres or topics you've never explored to broaden your horizons.
  2. Online courses. Platforms like Coursera, Udemy, and Khan Academy offer a plethora of courses. From learning a new language to understanding the intricacies of quantum physics, there's a world to discover.
  3. Podcast power. Incorporate educational podcasts into your routine. Listen during commutes, workouts, or even chores. It’s a seamless way to gain knowledge while multitasking.
  4. DIY projects. Engage in hands-on learning. Build a garden bed, knit a sweater, or even try your hand at pottery. The satisfaction of creating something boosts the learning curve.
  5. Trivia nights. Organize or attend trivia nights. It's a fun way to test your knowledge and learn from others.
  6. Document the learning journey. Create a learning diary or blog. Share your experiences, the challenges you face, and your successes. It not only serves as motivation but also helps in revising and reflecting.

Building a New Life

Motivation drives our actions. By understanding the science behind it and being mindful of what motivates us, we can harness its power to make meaningful, lasting changes in our lives.

Revamping your relationship with alcohol is a journey that takes effort, dedication, and a touch of creativity. But, with science as your guide and the right tools in hand, you can shape a healthier, brighter, and more fulfilling life for yourself. Here's to a vibrant new chapter!

When we think about making a change in our lives, whether it's modifying our relationship with alcohol or picking up a new hobby, the driving force often boils down to one word: motivation. But what is it about motivation that makes us lace up our shoes for a morning jog or reach for a sparkling water instead of a glass of wine?

When it comes to changing our relationship with alcohol, finding the motivation to change is all about learning to see it differently. We often give booze way more credit than it deserves, and the more we question its supposed benefits as a social lubricant or a way to relax, the more we find that there are many healthier — and more effective! — options out there. Let’s boost our motivation to stop drinking and build a life that reflects our true desires and potential.

The Science of Motivation

A man holding a beer bottle and flashing the peace sign

The brain drives all of our actions as it constantly evaluates rewards and consequences. When we decide to dosomething, it’s often a result of our brain calculating potential outcomes and benefits.

  • Dopamine, the reward molecule. This neurotransmitter plays a pivotal role in our motivation. When we anticipate a rewarding experience, dopamine is released, pushing us towards action. It's our brain's way of saying, "This feels good; let's keep going!"
  • The prefrontal cortex and goal setting. Just behind our forehead, the prefrontal cortex is responsible for decision-making and setting goals. It lets us envision a future reward and plan steps to achieve it.

External vs. Internal Motivation

There are two primary sources of motivation:

  • External motivation. This is driven by external rewards or threats. Think of getting a bonus for performing well or facing a deadline that sparks a flurry of activity.
  • Internal motivation. This springs from within, often linked to personal satisfaction or passion. For example, pursuing a hobby because it makes you happy, not because someone's rewarding you for it.

For lasting change — especially in personal journeys such as altering alcohol consumption — a mix of both kinds of motivation can be beneficial. If we’ve decided to quit drinking, motivation can help us keep going strong!

External motivations (like a health scare or societal pressure) might kickstart the journey. We know that excessive alcohol can damage the liver, heart, and pancreas. It can also weaken the immune system, making us more susceptible to diseases. And while alcohol might seem like a social lubricant, dependence can strain relationships and hinder personal growth — an effect that might have become painfully clear to us. All of these external motivations can help us get started.

However, for sustained change, internal motivation (like feeling healthier, clearer, or more in tune with ourselves) often takes the lead.

Harnessing Motivation To Change

Wondering where to draw motivation from? It’s a blend of understanding the benefits of change and believing in one's ability to achieve it. Here’s what science says about getting motivated:

  • Immediate benefits. Cutting back on alcohol can lead to better sleep, more energy, clearer skin, and improved cognitive function in as little as just a few days or weeks.
  • Long-term rewards. Over time, we decrease our risk of certain cancers, liver diseases, and increase our mental well-being.
  • Personal growth. Without alcohol as a crutch, many of us find we can address underlying emotions and experiences head-on, leading to personal development and stronger relationships.
  • Awaken our true energy. Alcohol can sap our energy and disrupt the sleep cycle. Imagine the zest and vigor you'll have when you greet each day feeling truly refreshed!
  • The wallet wins. Every time we choose not to buy a drink, we are saving up for authentically rewarding experiences — and those savings can add up quickly!
Tips for Changing Your Relationship With Alcohol

Motivation To Stop Drinking: Tips for Your Journey

If you're ready to change your relationship with alcohol, here's a list of science-backed steps to guide you:

1. Set Clear Goals and Chart Your Changes.

Whether it’s cutting back or quitting altogether, define what success looks like for you. Setting goals isn’t just about writing a wish on paper — it's about giving direction to your actions and decisions.

According to Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California, people who write down their goals are 42% more likely to achieve them than those who don't. The reason? Research shows that the act of writing triggers the brain's reticular activating system (RAS), attuning you to achieving your goal.

Goal Setting Steps

  1. Specificity is key. Instead of vaguely thinking, "I want to drink less," specify it. For instance, "I will only have two glasses of wine per week." This gives your intention weight and clarity.
  2. Break it down. Big goals can be daunting. If your ultimate goal is to be alcohol-free, break it into phases. Maybe you aim for alcohol-free weekdays first. Then, slowly expand that until you're alcohol-free for a whole month.
  3. Visualize the rewards. Take a moment to think about the positive changes and benefits you'll experience. Visualization is a science-backed way to amplify dopamine release and propel you forward.

Charting Tips

Once you’re on your way, start a journal documenting the positive changes you notice. This isn't merely for memories — it's about reinforcing the positive effects of your decision. From skin improvements to better digestion or sharper focus, seeing these benefits in writing can be a massive motivator! Here are some fun ways to chart your journey:

  1. Photo diary. Take a selfie every week. Over time, observe the changes — brighter eyes, clearer skin, and perhaps even a more genuine smile.

  2. Mood mapping. Dedicate a few minutes each evening to jot down your mood, noting any triggers or high points from the day. Over time, you'll likely see patterns, like improved moods and better stress management.
  3. Progress journal. This isn't just about logging alcohol-free days. Document sleep quality, energy levels, and even cognitive clarity. You'll be amazed to see how these elements improve over time.
  4. Achievement alerts. Set up alerts on your phone to celebrate milestones. Whether it's a week, a month, 90 days, or a year alcohol-free, every milestone deserves recognition.
  5. Visual aids. Create a colorful calendar dedicated to your alcohol journey. Mark alcohol-free days with a special sticker or symbol. Watching the pattern grow can be surprisingly motivating.
  6. Digital buddies. In today's tech-savvy age, apps can help monitor and reduce alcohol intake. Consider tools like Reframe to keep you on track!

Setting clear goals and tracking changes help structure your alcohol-free journey — and they enrich it. By witnessing firsthand your improvements and celebrating your little victories, you'll be more motivated and committed to this transformative path.

2. Discover New Tastes

Have you ever wondered why, after a period of drinking the same beverage, it starts to taste bland or not as exciting? That's our taste buds and brain in action! Alcohol, especially when consumed regularly, can dull our taste buds’ sensitivity. Additionally, the brain's reward system becomes accustomed to the pleasurable sensations alcohol provides, driving it to seek novelty — the same old thing inevitably gets boring.

When we decide to cut back or quit alcohol, we’re not just removing something from our life — instead, we’re adding a plethora of flavors, textures, and experiences we might have previously overlooked. Embracing the myriad of available beverages fills the void left by alcohol and enhances your sensory experiences, making every sip a delight.

Embarking on a Flavor Adventure

As you step back from alcohol, the world of flavors unfolds in front of you. Here are some tips for exploring the world of non-alcoholic beverages — you might just find your new favorite drink!

  1. Worldly beverages. Begin a world tour through beverages. Try Turkish tea, Japanese matcha, or African rooibos. These drinks come with rich histories, traditions, and unique preparation methods that make the experience about more than just sipping.
  2. Mocktail magic. Dive into the world of mocktails, non-alcoholic versions of popular cocktails that can be just as complex and refreshing. Plus, crafting them can become a fun, culinary hobby.
  3. DIY flavored water. Infuse your water with fresh fruits, herbs, and spices. Try combinations like cucumber-mint, strawberry-basil, or orange-rosemary. It's a hydrating and delightful way to treat your taste buds.
  4. Brew it up. Explore different brewing methods for coffee and teas. From the French press, cold brew, to the AeroPress for coffee, or the Chinese Gongfu style for tea, each method brings out unique flavors from the same bean or leaf.
  5. Taste-testing party. Host a tasting evening with friends where everyone brings a non-alcoholic drink from a different culture. It’s a fun way to discover new favorites and learn about the world.

3. Reignite Passion Projects

Alcohol can eat up free time (and that’s an understatement!). While it might feel like it sparks inspiration, scientific research indicates that consistent alcohol consumption hinders our cognitive processes, including creativity. Regular alcohol use tends to reduce our brain's ability to think divergently, which is crucial for imaginative activities and problem-solving.

By reducing or eliminating alcohol, we can harness a clearer mind, allowing latent or forgotten passions to resurface with renewed vigor. From book clubs to hiking groups or pottery classes, immersing ourselves in environments that foster genuine connections without the need for a drink can be a powerful motivator.

Steps To Awaken Your Inner Enthusiast

Rekindle old hobbies or start new ones with the time and energy you once dedicated to drinking:

  1. Rediscovery dive. Spend an afternoon going through old boxes, journals, or photo albums. Follow the trail of past hobbies or projects you were passionate about but left behind.
  2. Skill share. Join local workshops or online platforms like "Skillshare" to learn a new craft or skill. Whether it's pottery, digital art, or creative writing, there's a world waiting to be explored.
  3. Create a “project corner.” Dedicate a space in your home for your passion projects. This physical space acts as both motivation and a reminder to spend time doing what you love.
  4. Collaborate. Connect with like-minded individuals — join a community choir, a local theater group, or a knitting club. Working with others can reignite the flames of passion.
  5. Document the journey. Start a blog or Instagram page dedicated to your hobby. Documenting and sharing your progress not only keeps you accountable but also connects you with a community that appreciates your craft.
  6. Set mini milestones. If you’re painting, set a goal to complete a piece every month; if writing, aim for a chapter every week. Celebrate these milestones to maintain momentum.
  7. Rotate and reflect. Every few months, take a moment to reflect. If a hobby feels stale, it's okay to rotate it out for another. The goal is joy and fulfillment, not pressure.

Passion projects aren't just hobbies — they're an extension of ourselves. Alcohol, while once thought to be a muse, can often mute our creative spirit. By reigniting these projects, we don't just fill the void left by alcohol, but we also enrich our lives, adding layers of meaning, purpose, and joy.

4. Travel Triumphantly

Travel is often associated with new experiences, including culinary and beverage exploration. But here's an interesting fact: regular alcohol consumption can limit our brain's ability to form new memories — a phenomenon called "neurogenesis suppression." When we abstain or reduce alcohol while traveling, we not only have clearer memories of our adventures, but we also tend to engage more deeply with our surroundings.

Moreover, alcohol can disturb our sleep patterns. Jet lag, a common travel companion, is exacerbated by alcohol, making it harder for the body to adjust to new time zones.

Exploring the World With Clarity

Traveling triumphantly isn't about ticking off every landmark in your tour guide; it’s about immersing yourself deeply into new environments, forming vivid memories, and truly experiencing a place with all of your senses:

  1. Memory map. Carry a travel journal with you. Jot down your daily experiences, emotions, and observations to enhance your memories and create a precious keepsake.
  2. Local beverage exploration. Opt for non-alcoholic local beverages. Try a Moroccan mint tea, a Thai iced tea, or an Italian espresso! Dive into the authentic flavors of a region without the haze of alcohol.
  3. Active adventures. Instead of the usual touristy spots, find activities that get your body moving. Hike that mountain trail, rent a bicycle, or join a local dance class. These memorable experiences often don't revolve around alcohol!
  4. Cultural connect. Attend local workshops, craft sessions, or cooking classes. When your travel revolves around learning and connecting, alcohol naturally takes a backseat.
  5. Dawn patrol. Wake up early to catch the sunrise. Not only is this a magical experience, but early mornings also give you a few moments of beauty before the day's chaos begins.
  6. Photo challenge. Set a theme for each day of your trip, such as "shadows," "color," or "motion." Click pictures based on the theme, making you more observant and immersed in your surroundings.

When you return from a booze-free adventure, you carry back stories and experiences, not just souvenirs. So tie those laces and set out on a journey where every moment is treasured, every experience is lucid, and every memory is crystal clear. You don’t even have to go far — be a home-town tourist if you don’t have the time or funds to go away. Safe travels!

5. Fitness Flourish

Alcohol adds empty calories, depletes the body of essential nutrients, and can put a damper on our fitness goals by affecting protein synthesis and reducing endurance levels. As you reduce your intake, channel that energy into a fitness goal, like a 5k run, a new yoga pose, or hitting a personal best in the gym.

Breaking free or cutting back on alcohol propels your fitness journey, ensuring that every squat, sprint, or stretch delivers optimal results.

Steps To Energize Your Fitness Journey

Embracing fitness in the absence of alcohol gives your body better tools and materials to sculpt a masterpiece. Here are some tips to help you along the way:

  1. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals can transform your fitness regime. For instance, instead of "I want to get fit," try "I want to run 5 kilometers in under 30 minutes by December."
  2. Make it fun. Who said fitness can't be fun? Join a dance class, try rock climbing, or even trampoline workouts. The aim is to enjoy the process.
  3. Group dynamics. Group workouts or joining fitness communities can be highly motivating. The camaraderie and collective energy often push you further than solo sessions.
  4. Track progress. Use fitness apps or a good old diary to track your workouts, improvements, and how you feel after each session. Over time, this record will serve as a massive motivational tool.
  5. Celebrate milestones. Reached your goal of 50 push-ups? Or jogged without a break for 20 minutes? Celebrate these milestones! Find a new workout outfit, gadget, or a massage.
  6. Stay informed. Dedicate some time each week to read or watch something related to fitness. Knowledge keeps the motivation flame burning!

6. Stay Connected

It's a widely held belief that alcohol acts as a social lubricant, breaking the ice at gatherings. While it might momentarily ease social anxiety, chronic alcohol consumption can have a counterproductive effect on our interpersonal relationships. Scientifically speaking, alcohol can numb our emotional processing, creating barriers in understanding and empathizing with others. Over time, social interactions might become superficial or strained due to impaired judgment or actions under the influence.

However, being connected isn't just about being present at social events or being the life of the party. It's about the quality of interactions, the depth of conversations, and the warmth of emotions exchanged — all of which are much easier without booze.

Ways To Cultivate Authentic Connections

Here are some ways to build connections that last and enrich your life:

  1. Mindful meet-ups. Organize get-togethers where the focus is on conversation or an activity rather than on drinking. This could be a game night, a book club discussion, or even a cooking evening.
  2. Digital detox. Dedicate a day or a few hours every week to disconnect from electronic devices. Use this time to engage in face-to-face conversations, ensuring quality time with loved ones.
  3. Skill swap. Pair up with a friend and teach each other a skill or hobby. This could be painting, a musical instrument, or even a new sport. Learning together strengthens bonds!
  4. Reach out regularly. Make it a point to call or message someone you haven't spoken to in a while. Reignite old friendships and keep in touch once you do.
  5. Join community groups. Engage with your local community by joining interesting clubs or organizations to make new connections while grounding yourself within a supportive community.
  6. Active listening. When in conversation, practice active listening — fully concentrating, understanding, and responding to the other person. It’s a simple yet powerful way to deepen connections.

7. Educate Yourself

Our brain, remarkable and ever-evolving, thrives on learning. Neuroplasticity — the brain's ability to reorganize itself — is at its peak when we engage in new learning experiences. On the contrary, chronic alcohol consumption has been linked to diminished cognitive functions and can impede our brain's capability to form new neural pathways.

When we step back from alcohol, our brain flourishes, grows, and grasps new knowledge efficiently. Every nugget of information, every new skill, every fresh perspective adds an enriching, enlightening, fun layer to our personality.

How To Empower Yourself Through Learning

Here are some ways to get started:

  1. Book-a-week challenge. Set a goal to read a new book every week or month, depending on your pace. Dive into genres or topics you've never explored to broaden your horizons.
  2. Online courses. Platforms like Coursera, Udemy, and Khan Academy offer a plethora of courses. From learning a new language to understanding the intricacies of quantum physics, there's a world to discover.
  3. Podcast power. Incorporate educational podcasts into your routine. Listen during commutes, workouts, or even chores. It’s a seamless way to gain knowledge while multitasking.
  4. DIY projects. Engage in hands-on learning. Build a garden bed, knit a sweater, or even try your hand at pottery. The satisfaction of creating something boosts the learning curve.
  5. Trivia nights. Organize or attend trivia nights. It's a fun way to test your knowledge and learn from others.
  6. Document the learning journey. Create a learning diary or blog. Share your experiences, the challenges you face, and your successes. It not only serves as motivation but also helps in revising and reflecting.

Building a New Life

Motivation drives our actions. By understanding the science behind it and being mindful of what motivates us, we can harness its power to make meaningful, lasting changes in our lives.

Revamping your relationship with alcohol is a journey that takes effort, dedication, and a touch of creativity. But, with science as your guide and the right tools in hand, you can shape a healthier, brighter, and more fulfilling life for yourself. Here's to a vibrant new chapter!

Drinking Habits
Popular
2024-06-14 9:00
Drinking Habits
Why Interest in Beer Is Declining Nowadays
This is some text inside of a div block.

Heard about the craft beer decline? Between the rising prices and health concerns, it looks like these days Americans buy less beer. Breweries, bars, and restaurants are noticing the trend — and so are we! Learn more in our latest blog.

18 min read

Leave Beer Behind and Get Started With Reframe!

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app today!

Read Full Article  →

"What's the story, Norm?" Ted Danson’s iconic Cheers character, bartender Sam, asks his most loyal customer. "Boy meets beer. Boy drinks beer. Boy meets another beer."

A man holds a beer glass, giving a thumbs down gesture

In the world of Cheers, the beer is flowing from Season 1 to 11, and Norm gulps it down by the pitcher, episode after episode. It’s fiction, of course. Still, there’s no denying that beer has been a staple in bars around the country (and, for that matter, the globe). But things are changing, and Cheers — charming as it always will be — is starting to look a bit dated.

These days, Americans buy less beer. Breweries, bars, and restaurants are feeling the trend firsthand. But what’s behind it? Let’s find out!

Beer: Trending Down

"How's it going, Mr. Peterson?"
"Poor."
"I'm sorry to hear that."
"No, I mean pour."

One of the main reasons for the downward trend? Craft beer decline.  

As the name suggests, the world of  “craft beers” sees the brewing process as an art. These beers are usually produced by smaller breweries. With creative names such as “Arrogant Bastard Ale” and “Hoppy Ending Pale Ale,” their colorful containers make the shelves in the beer aisle of Whole Foods look like a toy store.  

This also means that they’re pricier than their mass-market counterparts. For example, a 6-pack of Dogfish Head sets us back around $13, while the same amount of regular old Budwiser is likely to run under $10. And that’s just the beginning. Similar to wine, the more rare a certain beer is, the more expensive it will be. The winner? A bottle of Nail Brewing’s Antarctic Nail Ale went for a whopping $800 at the Sea Shepherd’s auction in Fremantle. This one-of-a-kind brew has an activist twist: it was brewed with Antarctic ice brought back by the Sea Shepherd on a mission to save the whales.

The End of an Era

At the turn of the 21st century, craft beer was on the rise, with the number of microbreweries that produce them shooting up from 205 to 420 between 1995 and 2000. But, according to Forbes, 2020 marked the end of an era, as far as craft beer is concerned. Sales started to decline and were down by 2% by the middle of 2023.

As it turns out, craft beer has gotten, well, too crafty for its own good. Consumers have gotten over the magenta monsters and cartoon cats on the packaging and want affordable options. Or, perhaps, they just want something else to drink. Craft beer may have been a novelty at one point, but now there are other “kids on the (boozy) block.”

For example, studies show that other drinks — such as alcoholic seltzers — have been on the rise. The projected growth rate for hard seltzer from 2018 to 2021 has been a whopping 66%, with consumption rates growing from 14 million to 72 million cases.

Changing Attitudes About Booze

"How's a beer sound, Norm?" 
"I dunno. I usually finish them before they get a word in." 

The epitome of “mindless” drinking, Norm downs one after another without a second thought. 

But things are changing.

The sober-curious movement is stronger than ever as more and more people are trading in alcohol-fueled brain fog, health concerns, and next-day hangovers for clarity, creativity, and authentic connection. Millennials and Gen Z consumers in particular are driving the change, opting for non-alcoholic drinks and making mocktails instead of cocktails. 

This change contributes to craft beer decline, as well as the dwindling interest in beer in general these days. It also makes it unlikely that a new contender will reach the heights of popularity that craft beer once did. 

But what exactly are the downsides of alcohol (and beer in particular) that are driving the shift? Let’s take a closer look.

The Downsides of Beer

What are the downsides of drinking beer, as far as health is concerned? For an in-depth look, check out  “What Happens If You Drink 6 Beers a Day?” For now, here’s the gist.

1. Calorie Conundrum

"What's shaking, Norm?"
"All four cheeks & a couple of chins.”

It’s no secret that alcohol — including beer — is chock-full of empty calories. And although the typical 150-200 per can might not seem like that much, those cans quickly add up, especially after a few hours at a bar or at a sports game. (Just ask Norm. Although he might be too busy looking for a refill to answer you.)

That said, not all beer is created equal. Three old-time favorites — Samuel Adams Boston Lager, Guinness Extra Stout, and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale — average in the high 170s, while Anheuser-Busch Light Pale Lager, Miller Light, and other “light” varieties clock in a little under 100. Still, chugging several puts us on the track to that double chin Norm is talking about.

2. The Infamous Beer Belly

"Whatcha up to, Norm?"
"My ideal weight if I were eleven feet tall."

The term "beer belly" isn't a myth. Those calories that come with beer tend to go to one of the worst destinations — the abdomen.

This abdominal fat isn’t just a matter of looks — it comes with serious health risks, including cardiovascular diseases. Abdominal fat is metabolically active, churning out potentially harmful molecules behind the scenes. Specifically, it contributes to the production of hormones that can have negative effects on our health. (Want to learn more? Check out “The Causes of a Beer Belly (and How To Get Rid of It).”

3. Cholesterol Concerns

We hear about cholesterol all the time. There’s “good” cholesterol that clears our blood of gunk (such as triglycerides) that leads to heart disease. There’s also the “bad” kind that does the opposite, binding to fats that clog up our arteries. 

And alcohol? Here’s where things get confusing. The media loves to repeat the popular refrain that moderate drinking (including an occasional beer) “helps” our cholesterol levels. But is it true?

Not really. While alcohol does tend to raise the levels of both “good” and “bad” cholesterol alike, any positive change is offset by the negative shift that comes with it. Beer in particular is loaded with carbs, which (along with the alcohol itself) raise triglyceride levels. (For an in-depth look, check out “How Does Drinking Beer Affect Cholesterol?”)

4. Liver Laments

"Hey Mr. Peterson, Jack Frost nipping at your nose?"
"Yep. Now let's get Joe Beer nipping at my liver, huh?"

Alcohol overwhelms the liver, and beer is no exception. The body sees booze as a poison and prioritizes its speedy exit. The liver is at the front lines of the process, and over time this can take a toll. Alcohol metabolism produces acetaldehyde — a compound more toxic than alcohol itself. 

If the liver, which takes about an hour to metabolize one drink, can’t keep up, the toxin builds up in the body. The result? Headaches, nausea, and fatigue the next day and a rising risk of serious health problems (such as certain cancers) over time. (For more information, check out “How Much Alcohol Causes Liver Damage?”)

5. Dehydration Dilemmas

"What's going on, Mr. Peterson?"
"A flashing sign in my gut that says, 'Insert beer here.'"

One reason Norm is constantly thirsty? Beer! While his attempts to quench his thirst by gulping down another pint might make some sense at first glance, he’s missing an important point: beer dehydrates us.

That’s right, although alcohol is a liquid, it works against our hydration efforts. Alcohol suppresses the hormone vasopressin, which tells the kidneys to hold on to water. The fallout? We spend a good part of the evening in line for the bathroom, losing excessive amounts of water while continuing the counterproductive efforts to replenish it by drinking more. In fact, the next-day hangover is largely the result of dehydration from the day before.

6. Risk of Dependence

"What's new, Norm?"
"Terrorists, Sam. They've taken over my stomach. And they're demanding beer."

Last but certainly not least, there’s the risk of dependence to consider. Over time, alcohol — including beer — creates neurotransmitter shifts in the brain that make it difficult to slow down (let alone stop) our alcohol consumption. Booze floods the brain with the reward neurotransmitter dopamine while boosting GABA (an inhibitory neurotransmitter) and decreasing glutamate, its excitatory counterpart). 

The result? Our brain adjusts to the “new normal” — a shift that can eventually lead us to experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if we stop. Activities that used to bring us joy no longer cut it, and we keep going back to that bar stool (or fridge) for our “happiness fix.” (Check out “Alcohol Misuse vs. Dependence: What's the Difference?” for a deeper look.)

Tips for Navigating the Changing Landscape of Beer

Better Than Beer

Finally, here are some tips for navigating the changing landscape of beer, bars, and beyond.

  • Quench your (actual) thirst. If you do drink, make sure to alternate with a glass of water after each one. Better yet, try a delicious and hydrating mocktail instead!
  • Be cautious about jumping on the seltzer train. Or, for that matter, any other type of alcohol. While switching from beer to something else might seem like the “lesser of two evils,” remember — all alcohol is damaging to our health. (For a closer look, check out “Beer vs. Wine: Which Is Healthier?” and “Beer vs. Liquor: Which One Is Worse?”)
  • Try non-alcoholic beer. Non-alcoholic beer is all the rage these days. With this version, you get the best of both worlds: an earthy kick of flavor as well as hydration. Want to know more? Take a look at “What Is the Reality of Non-Alcoholic Beer?

Remember, just because beer has been a staple at bars, picnics, college parties, and sports games, doesn’t mean things can’t change! 

Summing Up

All in all, while the decline of interest in beer these days is an interesting trend, why not take it further? We can take this opportunity to reexamine our relationship with alcohol in general. 

It all starts with curiosity. If you look at your drinking patterns more closely and ask yourself, “Is beer really delivering on the promises of fun and relaxation? What if there’s a more fulfilling and exciting option out there — one that doesn’t leave you with a hangover or predispose you to a number of health complications?” Who knows, you might discover booze-free alternatives that are actually more satisfying, since they “keep on giving” long after the night out is over. 

"What's the story, Norm?" Ted Danson’s iconic Cheers character, bartender Sam, asks his most loyal customer. "Boy meets beer. Boy drinks beer. Boy meets another beer."

A man holds a beer glass, giving a thumbs down gesture

In the world of Cheers, the beer is flowing from Season 1 to 11, and Norm gulps it down by the pitcher, episode after episode. It’s fiction, of course. Still, there’s no denying that beer has been a staple in bars around the country (and, for that matter, the globe). But things are changing, and Cheers — charming as it always will be — is starting to look a bit dated.

These days, Americans buy less beer. Breweries, bars, and restaurants are feeling the trend firsthand. But what’s behind it? Let’s find out!

Beer: Trending Down

"How's it going, Mr. Peterson?"
"Poor."
"I'm sorry to hear that."
"No, I mean pour."

One of the main reasons for the downward trend? Craft beer decline.  

As the name suggests, the world of  “craft beers” sees the brewing process as an art. These beers are usually produced by smaller breweries. With creative names such as “Arrogant Bastard Ale” and “Hoppy Ending Pale Ale,” their colorful containers make the shelves in the beer aisle of Whole Foods look like a toy store.  

This also means that they’re pricier than their mass-market counterparts. For example, a 6-pack of Dogfish Head sets us back around $13, while the same amount of regular old Budwiser is likely to run under $10. And that’s just the beginning. Similar to wine, the more rare a certain beer is, the more expensive it will be. The winner? A bottle of Nail Brewing’s Antarctic Nail Ale went for a whopping $800 at the Sea Shepherd’s auction in Fremantle. This one-of-a-kind brew has an activist twist: it was brewed with Antarctic ice brought back by the Sea Shepherd on a mission to save the whales.

The End of an Era

At the turn of the 21st century, craft beer was on the rise, with the number of microbreweries that produce them shooting up from 205 to 420 between 1995 and 2000. But, according to Forbes, 2020 marked the end of an era, as far as craft beer is concerned. Sales started to decline and were down by 2% by the middle of 2023.

As it turns out, craft beer has gotten, well, too crafty for its own good. Consumers have gotten over the magenta monsters and cartoon cats on the packaging and want affordable options. Or, perhaps, they just want something else to drink. Craft beer may have been a novelty at one point, but now there are other “kids on the (boozy) block.”

For example, studies show that other drinks — such as alcoholic seltzers — have been on the rise. The projected growth rate for hard seltzer from 2018 to 2021 has been a whopping 66%, with consumption rates growing from 14 million to 72 million cases.

Changing Attitudes About Booze

"How's a beer sound, Norm?" 
"I dunno. I usually finish them before they get a word in." 

The epitome of “mindless” drinking, Norm downs one after another without a second thought. 

But things are changing.

The sober-curious movement is stronger than ever as more and more people are trading in alcohol-fueled brain fog, health concerns, and next-day hangovers for clarity, creativity, and authentic connection. Millennials and Gen Z consumers in particular are driving the change, opting for non-alcoholic drinks and making mocktails instead of cocktails. 

This change contributes to craft beer decline, as well as the dwindling interest in beer in general these days. It also makes it unlikely that a new contender will reach the heights of popularity that craft beer once did. 

But what exactly are the downsides of alcohol (and beer in particular) that are driving the shift? Let’s take a closer look.

The Downsides of Beer

What are the downsides of drinking beer, as far as health is concerned? For an in-depth look, check out  “What Happens If You Drink 6 Beers a Day?” For now, here’s the gist.

1. Calorie Conundrum

"What's shaking, Norm?"
"All four cheeks & a couple of chins.”

It’s no secret that alcohol — including beer — is chock-full of empty calories. And although the typical 150-200 per can might not seem like that much, those cans quickly add up, especially after a few hours at a bar or at a sports game. (Just ask Norm. Although he might be too busy looking for a refill to answer you.)

That said, not all beer is created equal. Three old-time favorites — Samuel Adams Boston Lager, Guinness Extra Stout, and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale — average in the high 170s, while Anheuser-Busch Light Pale Lager, Miller Light, and other “light” varieties clock in a little under 100. Still, chugging several puts us on the track to that double chin Norm is talking about.

2. The Infamous Beer Belly

"Whatcha up to, Norm?"
"My ideal weight if I were eleven feet tall."

The term "beer belly" isn't a myth. Those calories that come with beer tend to go to one of the worst destinations — the abdomen.

This abdominal fat isn’t just a matter of looks — it comes with serious health risks, including cardiovascular diseases. Abdominal fat is metabolically active, churning out potentially harmful molecules behind the scenes. Specifically, it contributes to the production of hormones that can have negative effects on our health. (Want to learn more? Check out “The Causes of a Beer Belly (and How To Get Rid of It).”

3. Cholesterol Concerns

We hear about cholesterol all the time. There’s “good” cholesterol that clears our blood of gunk (such as triglycerides) that leads to heart disease. There’s also the “bad” kind that does the opposite, binding to fats that clog up our arteries. 

And alcohol? Here’s where things get confusing. The media loves to repeat the popular refrain that moderate drinking (including an occasional beer) “helps” our cholesterol levels. But is it true?

Not really. While alcohol does tend to raise the levels of both “good” and “bad” cholesterol alike, any positive change is offset by the negative shift that comes with it. Beer in particular is loaded with carbs, which (along with the alcohol itself) raise triglyceride levels. (For an in-depth look, check out “How Does Drinking Beer Affect Cholesterol?”)

4. Liver Laments

"Hey Mr. Peterson, Jack Frost nipping at your nose?"
"Yep. Now let's get Joe Beer nipping at my liver, huh?"

Alcohol overwhelms the liver, and beer is no exception. The body sees booze as a poison and prioritizes its speedy exit. The liver is at the front lines of the process, and over time this can take a toll. Alcohol metabolism produces acetaldehyde — a compound more toxic than alcohol itself. 

If the liver, which takes about an hour to metabolize one drink, can’t keep up, the toxin builds up in the body. The result? Headaches, nausea, and fatigue the next day and a rising risk of serious health problems (such as certain cancers) over time. (For more information, check out “How Much Alcohol Causes Liver Damage?”)

5. Dehydration Dilemmas

"What's going on, Mr. Peterson?"
"A flashing sign in my gut that says, 'Insert beer here.'"

One reason Norm is constantly thirsty? Beer! While his attempts to quench his thirst by gulping down another pint might make some sense at first glance, he’s missing an important point: beer dehydrates us.

That’s right, although alcohol is a liquid, it works against our hydration efforts. Alcohol suppresses the hormone vasopressin, which tells the kidneys to hold on to water. The fallout? We spend a good part of the evening in line for the bathroom, losing excessive amounts of water while continuing the counterproductive efforts to replenish it by drinking more. In fact, the next-day hangover is largely the result of dehydration from the day before.

6. Risk of Dependence

"What's new, Norm?"
"Terrorists, Sam. They've taken over my stomach. And they're demanding beer."

Last but certainly not least, there’s the risk of dependence to consider. Over time, alcohol — including beer — creates neurotransmitter shifts in the brain that make it difficult to slow down (let alone stop) our alcohol consumption. Booze floods the brain with the reward neurotransmitter dopamine while boosting GABA (an inhibitory neurotransmitter) and decreasing glutamate, its excitatory counterpart). 

The result? Our brain adjusts to the “new normal” — a shift that can eventually lead us to experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if we stop. Activities that used to bring us joy no longer cut it, and we keep going back to that bar stool (or fridge) for our “happiness fix.” (Check out “Alcohol Misuse vs. Dependence: What's the Difference?” for a deeper look.)

Tips for Navigating the Changing Landscape of Beer

Better Than Beer

Finally, here are some tips for navigating the changing landscape of beer, bars, and beyond.

  • Quench your (actual) thirst. If you do drink, make sure to alternate with a glass of water after each one. Better yet, try a delicious and hydrating mocktail instead!
  • Be cautious about jumping on the seltzer train. Or, for that matter, any other type of alcohol. While switching from beer to something else might seem like the “lesser of two evils,” remember — all alcohol is damaging to our health. (For a closer look, check out “Beer vs. Wine: Which Is Healthier?” and “Beer vs. Liquor: Which One Is Worse?”)
  • Try non-alcoholic beer. Non-alcoholic beer is all the rage these days. With this version, you get the best of both worlds: an earthy kick of flavor as well as hydration. Want to know more? Take a look at “What Is the Reality of Non-Alcoholic Beer?

Remember, just because beer has been a staple at bars, picnics, college parties, and sports games, doesn’t mean things can’t change! 

Summing Up

All in all, while the decline of interest in beer these days is an interesting trend, why not take it further? We can take this opportunity to reexamine our relationship with alcohol in general. 

It all starts with curiosity. If you look at your drinking patterns more closely and ask yourself, “Is beer really delivering on the promises of fun and relaxation? What if there’s a more fulfilling and exciting option out there — one that doesn’t leave you with a hangover or predispose you to a number of health complications?” Who knows, you might discover booze-free alternatives that are actually more satisfying, since they “keep on giving” long after the night out is over. 

Drinking Habits
2024-06-14 9:00
Drinking Habits
Alcohol Percentage Content in Drinks
This is some text inside of a div block.

Wondering about vodka alcohol percentage or tequila alcohol content? Check out our blog about alcohol percentage in many common drinks!

20 min read

Be Mindful About What’s in Your Glass With Reframe!

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app today!

Read Full Article  →

How many drinks do you consume on a typical weekend? “Just a glass of wine with dinner,” you might say. But is that glass really one drink? And what happens if instead of your usual glass of white you have a Sherry or a Madeira? You might be surprised at the difference.

It’s important to be aware of the alcohol percentage content of our drinks, especially when we’re trying to be more mindful about our intake or are on a journey to cut back. With jumbo glasses and “free” refills clouding the picture, those drinks can add up more quickly than we realize. Plus, some are less “innocent” than they might seem. Let’s dig deeper!

Why Alcohol Percentage Matters

Two people making a toast with their glasses of whiskey

As we know, all alcohol is not created equal. The amount of ethanol in different drinks is measured as “alcohol by volume,” or ABV. It’s listed as a percentage on the container (sometimes you have to look closely, but it’s there!). The ABV, meaning the amount of booze inside, determines how strong a particular drink is. The higher the ABV, the more potent the alcohol.

Both high and low ABVs spell trouble. The more potent drinks will get us intoxicated faster, potentially leading to alcohol poisoning. However, ones with a lower ABV percentage can launch a sneak attack: we might be lulled into thinking we’re sober until it hits us all at once. Talk about a trainwreck!

How much is too much? Here’s where the concept of “alcohol units” and “standard drinks” comes into play.

What Is a “Standard Drink”?

According to NIAAA, one "standard" drink (or unit) has around 14 grams of pure alcohol. What does this look like in real life?

  • 12 ounces of regular beer, which is usually about 5% alcohol
  • 5 ounces of wine, which is typically about 12% alcohol
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, which is about 40% alcohol

Want to take a deep dive? Check out “Alcohol Units.”

Alcohol Percentage

Alcohol Percentage Content Countdown

1.  Beer: Buyer Beware

As a planet, we drink a lot of beer. In 2021 alone, we collectively chugged around 185.60 million kiloliters — enough to fill the Tokyo Dome around 150 times. (Yikes!) China has been the uncontested top consumer for the last 19 years, but the U.S. isn’t too far behind in second place. The numbers shot up after the COVID-19 pandemic, with an increase of about 7.13 million kl compared to the previous year.  That’s quite a few extra “bottles of beer on the wall” (11.3 billion, to be exact). 

That said, interest in beer is declining these days! Partially fueled by the rising prices of craft beer and partially by the sober-curious movement that’s driving folks away from booze altogether, sales in beer have dropped in recent years. In fact, in 2023 shipments of beer were at their lowest in 25 years!

How much alcohol is in beer? Typically, beer has an alcohol content of about 4% to 6%. However, the numbers vary, ranging from 0.5% for low-alcohol versions to over 12% for stronger craft brews.

Why the difference? It comes down to the brewing process, when yeast gobbles up fermentable sugars, creating alcohol as a byproduct. The strain of yeast that’s used accounts for the difference: some have a higher output than others. (If you’re wondering just how high those numbers can go, it’s probably higher than you think — a whopping 57.8%!)

Note of caution: While beer generally has a lower alcohol content, consuming large quantities can lead to alcohol poisoning and contribute to long-term issues like liver disease and alcohol dependency. (For a closer look, check out “What Happens If You Drink 6 Beers a Day?”)

2. Cider: When Apples Let Loose

Hard cider is similar to beer when it comes to alcohol content and production process. It’s fermented from sugary fruits (usually apples). The type of apples that are used and the length of the fermentation process can create a range of ABV values, but they usually fall within the 4% to 8% range.

Note of caution: Cider has a sweet flavor and often comes in those bright green bottles featuring an orchard or bright Granny Smith apples on the label. But beware! This is no health drink. It’s easy to drink too much because the sugars mask the flavor of alcohol, and overconsumption can easily lead to intoxication and a host of long-term health issues if it becomes a habit. Short-term effects include dizziness and severe hangovers.

3. Seltzer: Sneaky Sips

A relative newcomer on the scene, hard seltzers have skyrocketed in popularity, mostly thanks to marketing that promotes them as “healthier” takes on the traditional beers and malt beverages. Made by fermenting sugar cane or mixing carbonated water, alcohol, and flavoring, they look and fizzle like, well, seltzer. In the last year alone, the market expanded from $12.45 billion to $14.65 billion, and it’s still on the rise.

As for the alcohol percentage, hard seltzer is similar to beer, falling in the 4% to 6% range.

Note of caution: Don’t be fooled by appearances — in spite of the marketing, hard seltzer is neither “light” nor “refreshing” when compared to non-alcoholic alternatives. It will still dehydrate you and leave an unpleasant reminder of itself the next morning, especially if you end up throwing back more cans (or bottles) than you planned to. 

4. Wine: Watch Your Glass

Wine can be one of the trickiest beverages to navigate when it comes to watching ABV content. The typical red and white varieties fall within the 12% to 15% range. 

The exact alcohol content generally depends on the amount of sugar in the grapes, with the stronger varieties reaching an ABV higher than 15%. However, some zinfandels climb up to 17% or higher. Moreover, some fortified wines — such as port or sherry — can reach up to 20%. 

Note of caution: Wine might seem “predictable” enough, as far as ABV is concerned. The problem? It’s super easy to lose track of how much we’re drinking. A “standard” drink is one 5 oz glass, with a typical bottle having about 5. In reality, though, many “wine glasses” hold much more than that, with restaurants often pouring double that amount as a “serving.” And with long-term excessive consumption, we’re looking at complications such as heart disease and alcohol dependence. (Want to learn more? Take a look at “What Happens If You Drink a Bottle of Wine a Day?”)

5. Brandy or Cognac: Behind the Glamour

With their characteristic dark caramel colors, brandy and cognac bottles have that “classy and sophisticated” look. The beverage inside looks a bit like wine, and in some ways it is. Both are produced by distilling wine — a process that jacks up the ABV to about 35-60%.

Note of caution: Brandy and cognac might be close relatives of wine, but they’re in a league of their own. With an alcohol percentage that inches up toward distilled spirits, it’s crucial to take it slow and opt out altogether if we find we’re likely to overdo it or are sensitive to drinks with a higher alcohol percentage. 

6. Tequila (and Gin): Take It Slow

We’re now in the land of distilled spirits, made through the process of fermentation and distillation. After grains, fruits, vegetables, or other sources of sugars go through fermentation, they are distilled through a process that concentrates the liquid to increase its alcohol content.

Tequila is made from the blue agave plant and can only be produced in certain parts of Mexico (unsurprisingly, around the city of Tequila). Tequila alcohol content is highly regulated and has to be at least 35% (though most varieties are around 40%).

Gin, made from juniper berries, is right on par with tequila as far as its ABV is concerned: while the minimum is 35%, most varieties hover around 40%.

Note of caution: Tequila is a strong drink, and the custom of taking multiple shots can quickly land us in dangerous waters. As a typical “party drink,” it also lends itself to some impulsive and possibly risky behaviors. (To dig deeper, check out “What Happens to Your Body When You Drink Tequila?”) 

Gin, on the other hand, poses a different danger. The juniper berries and medicinal smell give it the reputation of a “tonic” (and the tradition of adding tonic water to the mix only strengthens this belief). However, don’t be fooled — it’s a strong liquor and the manufacturing process wipes out the health benefits those juniper berries do, indeed, have in their raw form. (Want to learn more? Check out “Drinking Gin: What Are the Risks?”)

6. Rum: Rocky Road Ahead

Another high-proof spirit, rum is made from sugarcane byproducts, such as molasses, or directly from sugarcane juice. Similar to tequila, rum is produced through the process of fermentation and distillation. (Fun fact: it was used as a currency by the British army in the colonial period. It also has a long history with pirates, who would mix it with water to create a not-too-appetizing cocktail aptly referred to as “grog.”)

As for rum alcohol content, it typically hovers around 40% but can vary, especially with overproof rums reaching up to 75% ABV.

Note of caution: Overproof rum is particularly hazardous due to its extremely high alcohol content, and even moderate amounts can rapidly lead to alcohol poisoning. Long-term abuse can cause serious health issues, including brain damage and liver disease. (To learn more about the potential dangers of rum, check out “How Much Alcohol Is in Rum?”)

7. Whiskey

Whiskey, on the other hand, is distilled from a fermented grain mix that includes barley, corn, rye, and wheat. It spends a long time (sometimes as long as 70 years!) maturing in a cask before being bottled. As far as whiskey alcohol content is concerned, it generally lands in the 40% to 50% range.

Note of caution: Like other hard liquors, whiskey leads to quick intoxication if we’re not careful. Plus, its high levels of congeners can intensify hangover symptoms (especially headaches) in those who are sensitive. (To find out more about whiskey and the risks associated with it, take a look at “Is Whiskey Good for You? Side Effects To Be Aware Of.”)

8. Vodka

Finally, vodka is usually distilled from any starch- or sugar-rich plant matter. Most gets produced from grains, which range from sorghum to corn, rye, or wheat. However, potatoes and fruits are occasionally used as the base.

As for vodka alcohol percentage, it hovers around around 40%, but can go as high as 95%! (Yikes! That’s one strong shot, indeed.)

Note of caution: Vodka can be tricky — with its high potency, crystal-clear appearance, and general lack of flavor, it’s way too easy to overdo it. If we do, we’re risking rapid intoxication and the possibility of alcohol poisoning and organ damage. (For a deeper look, check out “What Are the Effects of Drinking Vodka Every Day?”)

Summing Up

All in all, alcohol content drinks can easily sneak up on us if we’re not careful. Let’s remember what’s in our glass and stay vigilant! Better yet, why not shake things up and try a mocktail for some fun new flavors (and no headache in the morning?) And remember, if you’re ready to change your relationship with booze for good, Reframe is here to help!

How many drinks do you consume on a typical weekend? “Just a glass of wine with dinner,” you might say. But is that glass really one drink? And what happens if instead of your usual glass of white you have a Sherry or a Madeira? You might be surprised at the difference.

It’s important to be aware of the alcohol percentage content of our drinks, especially when we’re trying to be more mindful about our intake or are on a journey to cut back. With jumbo glasses and “free” refills clouding the picture, those drinks can add up more quickly than we realize. Plus, some are less “innocent” than they might seem. Let’s dig deeper!

Why Alcohol Percentage Matters

Two people making a toast with their glasses of whiskey

As we know, all alcohol is not created equal. The amount of ethanol in different drinks is measured as “alcohol by volume,” or ABV. It’s listed as a percentage on the container (sometimes you have to look closely, but it’s there!). The ABV, meaning the amount of booze inside, determines how strong a particular drink is. The higher the ABV, the more potent the alcohol.

Both high and low ABVs spell trouble. The more potent drinks will get us intoxicated faster, potentially leading to alcohol poisoning. However, ones with a lower ABV percentage can launch a sneak attack: we might be lulled into thinking we’re sober until it hits us all at once. Talk about a trainwreck!

How much is too much? Here’s where the concept of “alcohol units” and “standard drinks” comes into play.

What Is a “Standard Drink”?

According to NIAAA, one "standard" drink (or unit) has around 14 grams of pure alcohol. What does this look like in real life?

  • 12 ounces of regular beer, which is usually about 5% alcohol
  • 5 ounces of wine, which is typically about 12% alcohol
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, which is about 40% alcohol

Want to take a deep dive? Check out “Alcohol Units.”

Alcohol Percentage

Alcohol Percentage Content Countdown

1.  Beer: Buyer Beware

As a planet, we drink a lot of beer. In 2021 alone, we collectively chugged around 185.60 million kiloliters — enough to fill the Tokyo Dome around 150 times. (Yikes!) China has been the uncontested top consumer for the last 19 years, but the U.S. isn’t too far behind in second place. The numbers shot up after the COVID-19 pandemic, with an increase of about 7.13 million kl compared to the previous year.  That’s quite a few extra “bottles of beer on the wall” (11.3 billion, to be exact). 

That said, interest in beer is declining these days! Partially fueled by the rising prices of craft beer and partially by the sober-curious movement that’s driving folks away from booze altogether, sales in beer have dropped in recent years. In fact, in 2023 shipments of beer were at their lowest in 25 years!

How much alcohol is in beer? Typically, beer has an alcohol content of about 4% to 6%. However, the numbers vary, ranging from 0.5% for low-alcohol versions to over 12% for stronger craft brews.

Why the difference? It comes down to the brewing process, when yeast gobbles up fermentable sugars, creating alcohol as a byproduct. The strain of yeast that’s used accounts for the difference: some have a higher output than others. (If you’re wondering just how high those numbers can go, it’s probably higher than you think — a whopping 57.8%!)

Note of caution: While beer generally has a lower alcohol content, consuming large quantities can lead to alcohol poisoning and contribute to long-term issues like liver disease and alcohol dependency. (For a closer look, check out “What Happens If You Drink 6 Beers a Day?”)

2. Cider: When Apples Let Loose

Hard cider is similar to beer when it comes to alcohol content and production process. It’s fermented from sugary fruits (usually apples). The type of apples that are used and the length of the fermentation process can create a range of ABV values, but they usually fall within the 4% to 8% range.

Note of caution: Cider has a sweet flavor and often comes in those bright green bottles featuring an orchard or bright Granny Smith apples on the label. But beware! This is no health drink. It’s easy to drink too much because the sugars mask the flavor of alcohol, and overconsumption can easily lead to intoxication and a host of long-term health issues if it becomes a habit. Short-term effects include dizziness and severe hangovers.

3. Seltzer: Sneaky Sips

A relative newcomer on the scene, hard seltzers have skyrocketed in popularity, mostly thanks to marketing that promotes them as “healthier” takes on the traditional beers and malt beverages. Made by fermenting sugar cane or mixing carbonated water, alcohol, and flavoring, they look and fizzle like, well, seltzer. In the last year alone, the market expanded from $12.45 billion to $14.65 billion, and it’s still on the rise.

As for the alcohol percentage, hard seltzer is similar to beer, falling in the 4% to 6% range.

Note of caution: Don’t be fooled by appearances — in spite of the marketing, hard seltzer is neither “light” nor “refreshing” when compared to non-alcoholic alternatives. It will still dehydrate you and leave an unpleasant reminder of itself the next morning, especially if you end up throwing back more cans (or bottles) than you planned to. 

4. Wine: Watch Your Glass

Wine can be one of the trickiest beverages to navigate when it comes to watching ABV content. The typical red and white varieties fall within the 12% to 15% range. 

The exact alcohol content generally depends on the amount of sugar in the grapes, with the stronger varieties reaching an ABV higher than 15%. However, some zinfandels climb up to 17% or higher. Moreover, some fortified wines — such as port or sherry — can reach up to 20%. 

Note of caution: Wine might seem “predictable” enough, as far as ABV is concerned. The problem? It’s super easy to lose track of how much we’re drinking. A “standard” drink is one 5 oz glass, with a typical bottle having about 5. In reality, though, many “wine glasses” hold much more than that, with restaurants often pouring double that amount as a “serving.” And with long-term excessive consumption, we’re looking at complications such as heart disease and alcohol dependence. (Want to learn more? Take a look at “What Happens If You Drink a Bottle of Wine a Day?”)

5. Brandy or Cognac: Behind the Glamour

With their characteristic dark caramel colors, brandy and cognac bottles have that “classy and sophisticated” look. The beverage inside looks a bit like wine, and in some ways it is. Both are produced by distilling wine — a process that jacks up the ABV to about 35-60%.

Note of caution: Brandy and cognac might be close relatives of wine, but they’re in a league of their own. With an alcohol percentage that inches up toward distilled spirits, it’s crucial to take it slow and opt out altogether if we find we’re likely to overdo it or are sensitive to drinks with a higher alcohol percentage. 

6. Tequila (and Gin): Take It Slow

We’re now in the land of distilled spirits, made through the process of fermentation and distillation. After grains, fruits, vegetables, or other sources of sugars go through fermentation, they are distilled through a process that concentrates the liquid to increase its alcohol content.

Tequila is made from the blue agave plant and can only be produced in certain parts of Mexico (unsurprisingly, around the city of Tequila). Tequila alcohol content is highly regulated and has to be at least 35% (though most varieties are around 40%).

Gin, made from juniper berries, is right on par with tequila as far as its ABV is concerned: while the minimum is 35%, most varieties hover around 40%.

Note of caution: Tequila is a strong drink, and the custom of taking multiple shots can quickly land us in dangerous waters. As a typical “party drink,” it also lends itself to some impulsive and possibly risky behaviors. (To dig deeper, check out “What Happens to Your Body When You Drink Tequila?”) 

Gin, on the other hand, poses a different danger. The juniper berries and medicinal smell give it the reputation of a “tonic” (and the tradition of adding tonic water to the mix only strengthens this belief). However, don’t be fooled — it’s a strong liquor and the manufacturing process wipes out the health benefits those juniper berries do, indeed, have in their raw form. (Want to learn more? Check out “Drinking Gin: What Are the Risks?”)

6. Rum: Rocky Road Ahead

Another high-proof spirit, rum is made from sugarcane byproducts, such as molasses, or directly from sugarcane juice. Similar to tequila, rum is produced through the process of fermentation and distillation. (Fun fact: it was used as a currency by the British army in the colonial period. It also has a long history with pirates, who would mix it with water to create a not-too-appetizing cocktail aptly referred to as “grog.”)

As for rum alcohol content, it typically hovers around 40% but can vary, especially with overproof rums reaching up to 75% ABV.

Note of caution: Overproof rum is particularly hazardous due to its extremely high alcohol content, and even moderate amounts can rapidly lead to alcohol poisoning. Long-term abuse can cause serious health issues, including brain damage and liver disease. (To learn more about the potential dangers of rum, check out “How Much Alcohol Is in Rum?”)

7. Whiskey

Whiskey, on the other hand, is distilled from a fermented grain mix that includes barley, corn, rye, and wheat. It spends a long time (sometimes as long as 70 years!) maturing in a cask before being bottled. As far as whiskey alcohol content is concerned, it generally lands in the 40% to 50% range.

Note of caution: Like other hard liquors, whiskey leads to quick intoxication if we’re not careful. Plus, its high levels of congeners can intensify hangover symptoms (especially headaches) in those who are sensitive. (To find out more about whiskey and the risks associated with it, take a look at “Is Whiskey Good for You? Side Effects To Be Aware Of.”)

8. Vodka

Finally, vodka is usually distilled from any starch- or sugar-rich plant matter. Most gets produced from grains, which range from sorghum to corn, rye, or wheat. However, potatoes and fruits are occasionally used as the base.

As for vodka alcohol percentage, it hovers around around 40%, but can go as high as 95%! (Yikes! That’s one strong shot, indeed.)

Note of caution: Vodka can be tricky — with its high potency, crystal-clear appearance, and general lack of flavor, it’s way too easy to overdo it. If we do, we’re risking rapid intoxication and the possibility of alcohol poisoning and organ damage. (For a deeper look, check out “What Are the Effects of Drinking Vodka Every Day?”)

Summing Up

All in all, alcohol content drinks can easily sneak up on us if we’re not careful. Let’s remember what’s in our glass and stay vigilant! Better yet, why not shake things up and try a mocktail for some fun new flavors (and no headache in the morning?) And remember, if you’re ready to change your relationship with booze for good, Reframe is here to help!

Drinking Habits
2024-06-13 9:00
Drinking Habits
Developing a Plan to Moderate Your Drinking and Stick to It
This is some text inside of a div block.

Discover how to moderate your drinking with a structured plan. Understand your motivations, identify triggers, set goals, and implement practical steps to manage alcohol intake and improve well-being.

8 min read

Moderate Your Drinking Effectively

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

Read Full Article  →

Building a healthier relationship with alcohol can be a transformative journey. Whether you're looking to cut back on your drinking or just want to ensure you maintain a moderate intake, having a structured plan can make all the difference. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you develop a plan to moderate your drinking and stick to it.

Understanding Your Motivation

Developing a Plan to Moderate Your Drinking and Stick to It

Before diving into the mechanics of moderation, it’s crucial to understand why you want to change your drinking habits. Reflect on the reasons that drive you. Is it for better health, improved relationships, or perhaps to enhance your overall well-being? Knowing your motivation can provide the necessary fuel to stay committed to your plan.

Identifying Triggers and Setting Goals

Identify Your Triggers: Reflect on the situations, emotions, or people that prompt you to drink more than intended. It might be social settings, stress, or even boredom. Recognizing these triggers can help you develop strategies to manage them effectively.

Set Clear Goals: Establish specific, achievable goals for your drinking habits. For instance, you might decide to limit drinking to weekends, or set a maximum number of drinks per week. By having clear targets, it's easier to track your progress and stay accountable.

Small Habits Lead to Big Changes

Implementing small, consistent habits can significantly impact your drinking behavior over time. According to The Role of Habits in Drinking Less or Quitting Alcohol, starting with manageable changes, like drinking water between alcoholic beverages or opting for alcohol-free days, can gradually lead to substantial improvements.

Practical Steps to Moderate Drinking

  1. Limit Time in Bars: Spending less time in environments that encourage drinking can help reduce your alcohol intake. If socializing at bars is part of your routine, consider suggesting alternative activities like coffee outings or hikes.
  2. Skip Drinking Alone: Drinking alone can often lead to higher consumption. Find healthier ways to cope with emotions or boredom, such as engaging in a hobby, exercising, or reaching out to friends and family.
  3. Find Comfort Elsewhere: Instead of turning to alcohol for comfort, explore other ways to manage stress and emotions. Activities like meditation, yoga, or even a relaxing bath can be effective substitutes.
  4. Set Drinking Limits: Establish clear boundaries for how much you will drink. For example, you might decide to have no more than two glasses of wine per night. Writing down these limits can reinforce your commitment.
  5. Track Your Progress: Keep a record of your drinking habits. Apps like Reframe can help you stay conscious of your alcohol intake and make informed decisions about your drinking patterns.
  6. Opt for Lower-Proof Options: Choose beverages with lower alcohol content to reduce your overall intake. Mixing drinks with non-alcoholic options, like seltzer water, can make a significant difference in your consumption levels.

Dealing with Social Pressure

Social settings can be challenging when trying to moderate drinking. Here are some strategies to help you navigate these situations:

  • Plan Ahead: Decide in advance how much you will drink and stick to it. Consider bringing your own non-alcoholic beverages to social gatherings.
  • Practice Saying No: It’s okay to decline a drink. You can simply say you’re taking a break or that you’re driving.
  • Stay Busy: Engage in activities that don’t revolve around drinking. Dancing, playing games, or engaging in conversations can divert attention from alcohol.

Coping with Stress Without Alcohol

Stress is a common trigger for drinking. Developing healthier coping mechanisms is essential for moderating your alcohol intake. Explore activities that help you relax and unwind without relying on alcohol:

  • Exercise: Physical activity can reduce stress and improve your mood. Whether it’s a brisk walk, yoga, or hitting the gym, find an exercise routine that works for you.
  • Meditation and Mindfulness: Practices like meditation can help you manage stress and stay present. Apps and online resources can guide you through mindfulness exercises.
  • Hobbies and Interests: Engaging in hobbies can provide a sense of fulfillment and distract you from the urge to drink.

Monitoring Your Progress

Regularly reviewing your progress can help you stay on track and make necessary adjustments to your plan. Reflect on the following:

  • What’s Working: Identify the strategies that have been effective in helping you moderate your drinking.
  • Challenges: Acknowledge any obstacles you’ve faced and think about how you can overcome them in the future.
  • Adjustments: Be flexible and willing to adjust your goals and strategies as needed.

Seeking Support

Don’t hesitate to seek support from friends, family, or professional resources. Joining a support group or talking to a counselor can provide additional motivation and accountability.

Developing a plan to moderate your drinking is a positive step towards healthier living. By understanding your motivations, setting clear goals, and implementing practical strategies, you can successfully manage your alcohol intake and improve your overall well-being. Remember, small changes can lead to significant results over time. Stay committed, be patient with yourself, and celebrate your progress along the way.

Building a healthier relationship with alcohol can be a transformative journey. Whether you're looking to cut back on your drinking or just want to ensure you maintain a moderate intake, having a structured plan can make all the difference. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you develop a plan to moderate your drinking and stick to it.

Understanding Your Motivation

Developing a Plan to Moderate Your Drinking and Stick to It

Before diving into the mechanics of moderation, it’s crucial to understand why you want to change your drinking habits. Reflect on the reasons that drive you. Is it for better health, improved relationships, or perhaps to enhance your overall well-being? Knowing your motivation can provide the necessary fuel to stay committed to your plan.

Identifying Triggers and Setting Goals

Identify Your Triggers: Reflect on the situations, emotions, or people that prompt you to drink more than intended. It might be social settings, stress, or even boredom. Recognizing these triggers can help you develop strategies to manage them effectively.

Set Clear Goals: Establish specific, achievable goals for your drinking habits. For instance, you might decide to limit drinking to weekends, or set a maximum number of drinks per week. By having clear targets, it's easier to track your progress and stay accountable.

Small Habits Lead to Big Changes

Implementing small, consistent habits can significantly impact your drinking behavior over time. According to The Role of Habits in Drinking Less or Quitting Alcohol, starting with manageable changes, like drinking water between alcoholic beverages or opting for alcohol-free days, can gradually lead to substantial improvements.

Practical Steps to Moderate Drinking

  1. Limit Time in Bars: Spending less time in environments that encourage drinking can help reduce your alcohol intake. If socializing at bars is part of your routine, consider suggesting alternative activities like coffee outings or hikes.
  2. Skip Drinking Alone: Drinking alone can often lead to higher consumption. Find healthier ways to cope with emotions or boredom, such as engaging in a hobby, exercising, or reaching out to friends and family.
  3. Find Comfort Elsewhere: Instead of turning to alcohol for comfort, explore other ways to manage stress and emotions. Activities like meditation, yoga, or even a relaxing bath can be effective substitutes.
  4. Set Drinking Limits: Establish clear boundaries for how much you will drink. For example, you might decide to have no more than two glasses of wine per night. Writing down these limits can reinforce your commitment.
  5. Track Your Progress: Keep a record of your drinking habits. Apps like Reframe can help you stay conscious of your alcohol intake and make informed decisions about your drinking patterns.
  6. Opt for Lower-Proof Options: Choose beverages with lower alcohol content to reduce your overall intake. Mixing drinks with non-alcoholic options, like seltzer water, can make a significant difference in your consumption levels.

Dealing with Social Pressure

Social settings can be challenging when trying to moderate drinking. Here are some strategies to help you navigate these situations:

  • Plan Ahead: Decide in advance how much you will drink and stick to it. Consider bringing your own non-alcoholic beverages to social gatherings.
  • Practice Saying No: It’s okay to decline a drink. You can simply say you’re taking a break or that you’re driving.
  • Stay Busy: Engage in activities that don’t revolve around drinking. Dancing, playing games, or engaging in conversations can divert attention from alcohol.

Coping with Stress Without Alcohol

Stress is a common trigger for drinking. Developing healthier coping mechanisms is essential for moderating your alcohol intake. Explore activities that help you relax and unwind without relying on alcohol:

  • Exercise: Physical activity can reduce stress and improve your mood. Whether it’s a brisk walk, yoga, or hitting the gym, find an exercise routine that works for you.
  • Meditation and Mindfulness: Practices like meditation can help you manage stress and stay present. Apps and online resources can guide you through mindfulness exercises.
  • Hobbies and Interests: Engaging in hobbies can provide a sense of fulfillment and distract you from the urge to drink.

Monitoring Your Progress

Regularly reviewing your progress can help you stay on track and make necessary adjustments to your plan. Reflect on the following:

  • What’s Working: Identify the strategies that have been effective in helping you moderate your drinking.
  • Challenges: Acknowledge any obstacles you’ve faced and think about how you can overcome them in the future.
  • Adjustments: Be flexible and willing to adjust your goals and strategies as needed.

Seeking Support

Don’t hesitate to seek support from friends, family, or professional resources. Joining a support group or talking to a counselor can provide additional motivation and accountability.

Developing a plan to moderate your drinking is a positive step towards healthier living. By understanding your motivations, setting clear goals, and implementing practical strategies, you can successfully manage your alcohol intake and improve your overall well-being. Remember, small changes can lead to significant results over time. Stay committed, be patient with yourself, and celebrate your progress along the way.

Drinking Habits
2024-06-13 9:00
Drinking Habits
What Happens If We Mix Alcohol and Stimulants?
This is some text inside of a div block.

Alcohol and stimulants are commonly mixed but their opposing mechanisms can be dangerous. Check out our latest blog for more info on how they negatively interact.

18 min read

Limit the Risks of Drinking With Reframe!

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app today!

Read Full Article  →

Caffeinated alcohol drinks are on the rise. From hard energy drinks to coffee cocktails, the combination of alcohol and stimulants is highly normalized. Is this safe? We’ll learn in a bit that it’s not. The opposing mechanisms can send mixed signals to our brain — leading to adverse effects. 

Prescription or illicit stimulants are more potent than caffeine, and mixing them with alcohol is even more dangerous. To help us practice safe alcohol consumption, let’s first learn about how stimulants and depressants affect us and interact with each other.

A Look Into the Pharmacology of Alcohol and Stimulants 

Image depicts alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs on concrete surface

Alcohol is categorized as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. This means that it slows down messaging within our brain and to different parts of our body. Alcohol does this by acting on the neurotransmitters or chemical messengers in our brain. Specifically, alcohol enhances the effect of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), dopamine, and serotonin — producing a calming feeling. It also inhibits glutamate, which is an excitatory neurotransmitter that aids in different cognitive functions. Stimulants, on the other hand, have the opposite effect.

Stimulants speed up the body’s systems and act on both the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. Different types of stimulants include prescription drugs such as amphetamines and methylphenidate (Ritalin), illicit drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine, and other drugs such as caffeine and nicotine. In general, stimulants work by increasing levels of catecholamine (chemicals that send signals to other cells) and stimulating adrenergic receptors. When these receptors are stimulated, they mimic the function of the sympathetic nervous system, increasing our heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. 

By looking at the way stimulants and depressants (specifically alcohol) work, we can see that they have opposite effects on the body. However, they can both impact our CNS. What exactly do they do? 

How Stimulants and Alcohol Affect the Central Nervous System

Our CNS is our brain’s processing system. It reads and sends signals that regulate how we feel, think, and move. Both alcohol and stimulants can affect our CNS, impacting our thoughts, movement, and actions.

CNS depressants like alcohol suppress our excitatory nerve pathway activity. This interferes with communication between our nerve cells and slows down signaling. Depressing our CNS leads to a variety of symptoms.

  • Slowed reflexes 
  • Slurred speech 
  • Higher pain tolerance
  • Drowsiness 
  • Low heart rate
  • Slowed breathing 
  • Headaches 
  • Impaired judgment 

CNS stimulants increase neural activity in our brain, which speeds up mental and physical processes. They can lead to a range of side effects.

  • Rapid heart rate 
  • Increased blood pressure 
  • Reduced appetite 
  • Increased alertness 
  • Higher focus 
  • Higher energy 
  • Jitteriness and anxiety 

Since depressants and stimulants have opposite mechanisms of action, they also produce opposite effects. Since they’re opposites, do they interact?

Interaction Between Alcohol and Different Types of Stimulants 

Alcohol and stimulants have opposing effects and both affect our CNS. This causes many direct and indirect interactions between alcohol and different types of stimulants. Let’s further examine how alcohol clashes with certain stimulants. 

Alcohol and Prescription Stimulants

Prescription stimulants are controlled medications that enhance brain activity. They are commonly used to treat conditions such as ADHD, narcolepsy.  Sometimes they serve as a short-term treatment for obesity. Prescription stimulants are associated with risks such as misuse and overdose. 

Two main categories of prescription stimulants include amphetamines such as Adderall and Dexedrine and methylphenidates such as Ritalin and Focalin. Alcohol and all prescription stimulants have direct interactions. This means that alcohol can impact the way the drug works in our body. 

Alcohol can cause abnormal levels of the medication in our body and affect the way some extended-release forms of the medication work. For example, mixing the delayed-release form of Focalin and alcohol together can promote faster release of the medication, leading to dangerously high levels of the drug in our body. Stimulants can also counteract some of the depressant effects of alcohol, making us feel less intoxicated. This can indirectly cause us to drink more and increase the risk of alcohol poisoning

Alcohol and Illicit Stimulants

Common illicit stimulants include cocaine, ecstasy, and methamphetamine. These illegal drugs are strong and frequently misused for their “upper” effects. Illicit stimulants can create a temporary feeling of euphoria, increased energy, and alertness. 

Mixing alcohol and illicit stimulants is extremely dangerous. They can decrease each other’s effects and increase the risk of alcohol poisoning and drug overdose. The duo can also heighten the risk of dependence on either substance. While alcohol is a depressant, it has some stimulant effects. Specifically, alcohol and stimulants both promote the release of dopamine and serotonin, the body’s “feel-good” hormones. This extra boost in mood and pleasure increases the chances of dependence.

Alcohol and Other Stimulants

Other stimulants, such as nicotine, caffeine, and herbal supplements, may be less potent than prescription and illicit stimulants. However, these legal stimulants still have many of the same effects as other stimulants and can negatively interact with alcohol

Since they are less potent than prescription and illicit stimulants, these other stimulant drugs may cause less severe effects when combined with alcohol. However, they can still block some of the depressant effects of alcohol. But don’t be fooled: This isn’t the perfect solution it may sound like. While we may be able to get through a night of drinking without feeling extremely drowsy or disoriented, this can lead us to drink more and more without noticing and increase our likelihood of drinking excessively. 

We know that excessive drinking can be detrimental to our health, but what exactly are the risks of combining alcohol with stimulants?

Risks of Mixing Alcohol and Stimulants

Risks of Alcohol, Stimulants, and Mixing the Two

Alcohol and stimulants can each result in dangerous consequences for our body. Individually, they artificially prompt our brain to speed up or slow down. Imagine this: Let’s say we’re not flexible enough to do the splits. However, by taking a magic pill, we won’t feel the pain and can force ourselves into them. We may be able to do it at that moment, but our muscles, joints, and bones may suffer as a result. 

The consequences of consuming alcohol and stimulants together are similar in that they can open the door to many potential consequences. Mixing the two, known as polysubstance use, can cause even greater harm. Let’s take a closer look.

  • Risk of cardiovascular toxicity. Alcohol and stimulants both cause stress on our heart. They can cause increased blood pressure and a rapid heart rate. Over time, our heart can become damaged, increasing the risk of heart attack, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.
  • Impaired brain and cognitive function. By themselves, alcohol and stimulants can affect cognitive function. Since they have opposing mechanisms, combining the two can send mixed signals to our brain and further impair our cognitive functions. 
  • Inadequate blood flow to the brain. At high levels, alcohol can cause our blood vessels to constrict. Similarly, stimulants also have the same effects. When mixed, the vasoconstriction effects are amplified. This can cause inadequate blood flow to the brain. 
  • Increased strain on kidneys. Stimulants and alcohol both cause strain on our kidneys due to elevated blood pressure and heart rate. Together, the risk of kidney damage is heightened.
  • Increased hangover symptoms. Stimulants may temporarily block the depressant effects of alcohol when we drink. This can lead us to unintentionally drink more and more, resulting in an even more unpleasant aftermath.

  • Risk of overdose. Just the way stimulants can block the effects of alcohol, drinking can do the same to stimulants. The result is an excessive level of stimulants in our system and/or increased consumption of stimulants, which ups our risk of overdose.

How Much Is Too Much?

When taking stimulants, no amount of alcohol is considered safe. Since alcohol and stimulants have direct interactions, even minimal amounts of alcohol can have a negative impact. While certain stimulants such as prescription and illicit drugs may cause greater harm when mixed with alcohol, any stimulant drug opens the door to potential risks and consequences. 

Any amount of alcohol with stimulants can lead to negative consequences. The truth is, however, they’re commonly combined. Cocktails like Vodka Red Bull and espresso martinis are popular drinks that mix caffeine with alcohol. If we’ve already consumed alcohol and stimulants together, what should we do?

What To Do If You’ve Mixed Alcohol and Stimulants 

We’ve learned that drinking while taking stimulants can be extremely dangerous. Since they’re commonly combined, we might have already consumed them together without knowing it. We can utilize the following three steps to prioritize our health and safety.

  1. Stop drinking. We may have already consumed alcohol and stimulants together, but avoiding further alcohol consumption can limit any additional consequences. Hydrating with water or an electrolyte drink will help prevent dehydration and support cells and organs in eliminating toxic substances.

  2. Monitor symptoms. Alcohol and stimulants can lead to dangerous effects together or separately. By monitoring any symptoms that may arise, we can increase our awareness of the effects that these substances have on our body. It also can help us identify if and when we need medical attention. 

  3. Seek medical attention. Alcohol intoxication, drug overdose, and exacerbated side effects of mixing stimulants and alcohol can elicit unsafe effects. If you’re experiencing any severe symptoms, dial 9-1-1 to seek emergency medical assistance.

Alcohol and stimulants together can be a hazardous combination, but is there a safe way to navigate them together?

Navigating Stimulants and Alcohol Consumption Safely

In many cultures, avoiding alcohol and stimulants can sometimes be difficult. Social drinking and hustle culture are both deeply ingrained in American society, for example, which has led to the normalization of drinking alcohol and consuming stimulants. To navigate them both safely, we can implement the following practices: 

  • Consult with a physician. We all have individual needs and risk factors. Consulting with our physician helps us address underlying conditions and root causes that may be driving our stimulant or alcohol consumption. 
  • Quit or cut back on alcohol. In some cases, stimulants may be necessary to treat ADHD or narcolepsy. Quitting or cutting back on alcohol is the most effective method for avoiding adverse effects. 
  • Prioritize sleep and rest. Stimulants are commonly used to increase our energy or wakefulness. On the other hand, alcohol can negatively disrupt our sleep patterns. By prioritizing adequate rest, we can reduce the use of stimulants and disrupt the common pattern of mixing them. 
  • Find alternatives. We can identify healthier and more natural alternatives for stimulants and alcohol. Try getting some sunlight first thing in the morning for a natural energy lift. If you’re looking to wind down, try chamomile tea or take a warm bath. 

Although stimulants and alcohol are frequently combined, they are a dangerous duo. Sometimes the effects are immediate, and sometimes the harm comes later down the road. Practicing mindful consumption is beneficial not only for avoiding the adverse effects of mixing alcohol and stimulants, but for our overall health as well.

The Bottom Line

Mixing alcohol and stimulants can be tempting. The direct opposing mechanism of stimulants can combat the less-desired effects of alcohol on our body. While we may feel less intoxicated at the moment, this can actually lead us to drink more and more alcohol — leading to an unpleasant aftermath and opening the door to a host of health issues. Alcohol and stimulants have direct interactions that can be dangerous when mixed in any amount. Avoid alcohol while taking stimulants to prevent adverse effects and risk of dependence. Stay vigilant and avoid mixing alcohol and stimulants!

Caffeinated alcohol drinks are on the rise. From hard energy drinks to coffee cocktails, the combination of alcohol and stimulants is highly normalized. Is this safe? We’ll learn in a bit that it’s not. The opposing mechanisms can send mixed signals to our brain — leading to adverse effects. 

Prescription or illicit stimulants are more potent than caffeine, and mixing them with alcohol is even more dangerous. To help us practice safe alcohol consumption, let’s first learn about how stimulants and depressants affect us and interact with each other.

A Look Into the Pharmacology of Alcohol and Stimulants 

Image depicts alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs on concrete surface

Alcohol is categorized as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. This means that it slows down messaging within our brain and to different parts of our body. Alcohol does this by acting on the neurotransmitters or chemical messengers in our brain. Specifically, alcohol enhances the effect of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), dopamine, and serotonin — producing a calming feeling. It also inhibits glutamate, which is an excitatory neurotransmitter that aids in different cognitive functions. Stimulants, on the other hand, have the opposite effect.

Stimulants speed up the body’s systems and act on both the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. Different types of stimulants include prescription drugs such as amphetamines and methylphenidate (Ritalin), illicit drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine, and other drugs such as caffeine and nicotine. In general, stimulants work by increasing levels of catecholamine (chemicals that send signals to other cells) and stimulating adrenergic receptors. When these receptors are stimulated, they mimic the function of the sympathetic nervous system, increasing our heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. 

By looking at the way stimulants and depressants (specifically alcohol) work, we can see that they have opposite effects on the body. However, they can both impact our CNS. What exactly do they do? 

How Stimulants and Alcohol Affect the Central Nervous System

Our CNS is our brain’s processing system. It reads and sends signals that regulate how we feel, think, and move. Both alcohol and stimulants can affect our CNS, impacting our thoughts, movement, and actions.

CNS depressants like alcohol suppress our excitatory nerve pathway activity. This interferes with communication between our nerve cells and slows down signaling. Depressing our CNS leads to a variety of symptoms.

  • Slowed reflexes 
  • Slurred speech 
  • Higher pain tolerance
  • Drowsiness 
  • Low heart rate
  • Slowed breathing 
  • Headaches 
  • Impaired judgment 

CNS stimulants increase neural activity in our brain, which speeds up mental and physical processes. They can lead to a range of side effects.

  • Rapid heart rate 
  • Increased blood pressure 
  • Reduced appetite 
  • Increased alertness 
  • Higher focus 
  • Higher energy 
  • Jitteriness and anxiety 

Since depressants and stimulants have opposite mechanisms of action, they also produce opposite effects. Since they’re opposites, do they interact?

Interaction Between Alcohol and Different Types of Stimulants 

Alcohol and stimulants have opposing effects and both affect our CNS. This causes many direct and indirect interactions between alcohol and different types of stimulants. Let’s further examine how alcohol clashes with certain stimulants. 

Alcohol and Prescription Stimulants

Prescription stimulants are controlled medications that enhance brain activity. They are commonly used to treat conditions such as ADHD, narcolepsy.  Sometimes they serve as a short-term treatment for obesity. Prescription stimulants are associated with risks such as misuse and overdose. 

Two main categories of prescription stimulants include amphetamines such as Adderall and Dexedrine and methylphenidates such as Ritalin and Focalin. Alcohol and all prescription stimulants have direct interactions. This means that alcohol can impact the way the drug works in our body. 

Alcohol can cause abnormal levels of the medication in our body and affect the way some extended-release forms of the medication work. For example, mixing the delayed-release form of Focalin and alcohol together can promote faster release of the medication, leading to dangerously high levels of the drug in our body. Stimulants can also counteract some of the depressant effects of alcohol, making us feel less intoxicated. This can indirectly cause us to drink more and increase the risk of alcohol poisoning

Alcohol and Illicit Stimulants

Common illicit stimulants include cocaine, ecstasy, and methamphetamine. These illegal drugs are strong and frequently misused for their “upper” effects. Illicit stimulants can create a temporary feeling of euphoria, increased energy, and alertness. 

Mixing alcohol and illicit stimulants is extremely dangerous. They can decrease each other’s effects and increase the risk of alcohol poisoning and drug overdose. The duo can also heighten the risk of dependence on either substance. While alcohol is a depressant, it has some stimulant effects. Specifically, alcohol and stimulants both promote the release of dopamine and serotonin, the body’s “feel-good” hormones. This extra boost in mood and pleasure increases the chances of dependence.

Alcohol and Other Stimulants

Other stimulants, such as nicotine, caffeine, and herbal supplements, may be less potent than prescription and illicit stimulants. However, these legal stimulants still have many of the same effects as other stimulants and can negatively interact with alcohol

Since they are less potent than prescription and illicit stimulants, these other stimulant drugs may cause less severe effects when combined with alcohol. However, they can still block some of the depressant effects of alcohol. But don’t be fooled: This isn’t the perfect solution it may sound like. While we may be able to get through a night of drinking without feeling extremely drowsy or disoriented, this can lead us to drink more and more without noticing and increase our likelihood of drinking excessively. 

We know that excessive drinking can be detrimental to our health, but what exactly are the risks of combining alcohol with stimulants?

Risks of Mixing Alcohol and Stimulants

Risks of Alcohol, Stimulants, and Mixing the Two

Alcohol and stimulants can each result in dangerous consequences for our body. Individually, they artificially prompt our brain to speed up or slow down. Imagine this: Let’s say we’re not flexible enough to do the splits. However, by taking a magic pill, we won’t feel the pain and can force ourselves into them. We may be able to do it at that moment, but our muscles, joints, and bones may suffer as a result. 

The consequences of consuming alcohol and stimulants together are similar in that they can open the door to many potential consequences. Mixing the two, known as polysubstance use, can cause even greater harm. Let’s take a closer look.

  • Risk of cardiovascular toxicity. Alcohol and stimulants both cause stress on our heart. They can cause increased blood pressure and a rapid heart rate. Over time, our heart can become damaged, increasing the risk of heart attack, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.
  • Impaired brain and cognitive function. By themselves, alcohol and stimulants can affect cognitive function. Since they have opposing mechanisms, combining the two can send mixed signals to our brain and further impair our cognitive functions. 
  • Inadequate blood flow to the brain. At high levels, alcohol can cause our blood vessels to constrict. Similarly, stimulants also have the same effects. When mixed, the vasoconstriction effects are amplified. This can cause inadequate blood flow to the brain. 
  • Increased strain on kidneys. Stimulants and alcohol both cause strain on our kidneys due to elevated blood pressure and heart rate. Together, the risk of kidney damage is heightened.
  • Increased hangover symptoms. Stimulants may temporarily block the depressant effects of alcohol when we drink. This can lead us to unintentionally drink more and more, resulting in an even more unpleasant aftermath.

  • Risk of overdose. Just the way stimulants can block the effects of alcohol, drinking can do the same to stimulants. The result is an excessive level of stimulants in our system and/or increased consumption of stimulants, which ups our risk of overdose.

How Much Is Too Much?

When taking stimulants, no amount of alcohol is considered safe. Since alcohol and stimulants have direct interactions, even minimal amounts of alcohol can have a negative impact. While certain stimulants such as prescription and illicit drugs may cause greater harm when mixed with alcohol, any stimulant drug opens the door to potential risks and consequences. 

Any amount of alcohol with stimulants can lead to negative consequences. The truth is, however, they’re commonly combined. Cocktails like Vodka Red Bull and espresso martinis are popular drinks that mix caffeine with alcohol. If we’ve already consumed alcohol and stimulants together, what should we do?

What To Do If You’ve Mixed Alcohol and Stimulants 

We’ve learned that drinking while taking stimulants can be extremely dangerous. Since they’re commonly combined, we might have already consumed them together without knowing it. We can utilize the following three steps to prioritize our health and safety.

  1. Stop drinking. We may have already consumed alcohol and stimulants together, but avoiding further alcohol consumption can limit any additional consequences. Hydrating with water or an electrolyte drink will help prevent dehydration and support cells and organs in eliminating toxic substances.

  2. Monitor symptoms. Alcohol and stimulants can lead to dangerous effects together or separately. By monitoring any symptoms that may arise, we can increase our awareness of the effects that these substances have on our body. It also can help us identify if and when we need medical attention. 

  3. Seek medical attention. Alcohol intoxication, drug overdose, and exacerbated side effects of mixing stimulants and alcohol can elicit unsafe effects. If you’re experiencing any severe symptoms, dial 9-1-1 to seek emergency medical assistance.

Alcohol and stimulants together can be a hazardous combination, but is there a safe way to navigate them together?

Navigating Stimulants and Alcohol Consumption Safely

In many cultures, avoiding alcohol and stimulants can sometimes be difficult. Social drinking and hustle culture are both deeply ingrained in American society, for example, which has led to the normalization of drinking alcohol and consuming stimulants. To navigate them both safely, we can implement the following practices: 

  • Consult with a physician. We all have individual needs and risk factors. Consulting with our physician helps us address underlying conditions and root causes that may be driving our stimulant or alcohol consumption. 
  • Quit or cut back on alcohol. In some cases, stimulants may be necessary to treat ADHD or narcolepsy. Quitting or cutting back on alcohol is the most effective method for avoiding adverse effects. 
  • Prioritize sleep and rest. Stimulants are commonly used to increase our energy or wakefulness. On the other hand, alcohol can negatively disrupt our sleep patterns. By prioritizing adequate rest, we can reduce the use of stimulants and disrupt the common pattern of mixing them. 
  • Find alternatives. We can identify healthier and more natural alternatives for stimulants and alcohol. Try getting some sunlight first thing in the morning for a natural energy lift. If you’re looking to wind down, try chamomile tea or take a warm bath. 

Although stimulants and alcohol are frequently combined, they are a dangerous duo. Sometimes the effects are immediate, and sometimes the harm comes later down the road. Practicing mindful consumption is beneficial not only for avoiding the adverse effects of mixing alcohol and stimulants, but for our overall health as well.

The Bottom Line

Mixing alcohol and stimulants can be tempting. The direct opposing mechanism of stimulants can combat the less-desired effects of alcohol on our body. While we may feel less intoxicated at the moment, this can actually lead us to drink more and more alcohol — leading to an unpleasant aftermath and opening the door to a host of health issues. Alcohol and stimulants have direct interactions that can be dangerous when mixed in any amount. Avoid alcohol while taking stimulants to prevent adverse effects and risk of dependence. Stay vigilant and avoid mixing alcohol and stimulants!

Drinking Habits