People might think it’s impossible to stop drinking after you start feeling that warm fuzzy feeling, but that’s hardly the case. In reality, we find it hard to stop drinking because we don’t want to let that feeling go. So, if you want to control your drinking, you need to understand how that buzz affects you and what you can do about it.
In this article, courtesy of Sunnyside, we’ll learn about the psychology of drinking and why it can feel hard to stop while also looking at some tips to help you lower your alcohol consumption.
The Psychology of Drinking
Drinking alcohol can help you relax, socialize, and have fun, up to a point. When drinking, the alcohol content in your blood rises to a certain level depending on what you drink, how much you drink, and how quickly or slowly you drink it.
Peak buzz usually occurs when your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) reaches 0.06 percent, the concentration of alcohol in your blood. Most people experience this effect after two to three drinks within an hour. However, people have different tolerance levels, so you can start to feel intoxicated with fewer drinks than the rest or the other way around.
After reaching that peak buzz, alcohol’s enjoyable effects begin to fade. You may start to feel sleepy, flat, and disconnected. Your mood may change, you may become sick, or you may make unwise decisions.
And once you’ve reached peak buzz, you can never go back. The more alcohol you drink, the deeper you’ll sink into the slump and the more regret you’ll feel.
Most alcohol use disorders start because the brain perceives the “buzz” as good. The buzz still feels pleasurable and desirable even when it has become drunk numbness. Alcohol use disorders occur because your brain becomes addicted to that buzz and starts to expect it.
There is a common misconception that “once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic,” but many people can learn to drink less and become social drinkers again after being diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder. However, most addiction psychologists, psychiatrists, physicians, social workers, and addiction counselors will strongly recommend abstinence if you are diagnosed with alcohol dependence.
Drinking versus abstinence is always a personal decision that everyone should carefully consider.
How to Stop After You Reach the Buzz
If you find that you have problems controlling your drinks after you reach the buzz, but you aren’t sure how to lower your drinking, consider the following tips:
It is possible to control your drinking by setting specific limits or rules for yourself. For example, you can limit your consumption to only a few glasses or only drink on weekends. Once you have reached a point where you barely drink anything, you will be able to consume fewer and fewer bottles each day or week.
Don’t drink too much at once, and pace yourself. One standard drink takes most people about one hour to digest. If you’ve already planned to have four drinks next time you go out, space them out over a few hours instead of having them back-to-back.
You should also avoid pregaming or drinking before you go out, as it can make it harder to control your drinking at the bar.
In theory, this method seems simple, but most people find it difficult to follow their own rules. People with drinking problems also have poor impulse control because drinking is as much an impulse as a desire. But we will discuss that in the next tip.
Getting too drunk isn’t about the amount of alcohol that passes from your glass to your lips; it’s about your behavior. There’s nothing worse than intending to have only a few, then ending the night with a pile of cans and bottles. However, mindful drinking training might help you combat substance use disorders, and the same approach can also be helpful at holiday parties. Being conscious about your drinking in the present can compensate for the future, tipsy you.
A mindful drinking app can be a helpful way to track your drinking. For example, many people use the technique of placing coins in one pocket and moving them to another after each drink. You can also schedule a pause to check in with yourself each time you reach for another.
You should also consider drinking water or switching to low or non-alcohol beverages, like beer, instead of liquor if you want to slow down. Drinking water is also a great way to avoid hangovers.
Don’t try to chase the buzz
Most people know that drinkers build a tolerance to alcohol over time, but many are unaware that you can start feeling this even during one evening. As a result of this acute tolerance, you feel less of the mood-lifting effects of alcohol over time, even at the same blood alcohol concentration. However, this doesn’t take away other consequences of alcohol consumption, such as motor impairments and deterioration of driving ability, which eventually outpace your pleasant buzz if you keep drinking.
Trying to regain your buzz is an impossible task. During the initial BAC climb, manage your expectations and accept that the height of your buzz has passed.
It might seem too hard to stop drinking once you’ve started, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The problem many people have is that they keep trying to chase the buzz once it starts to fade, which is impossible. You need to be mindful of the moment the buzz reaches its peak and work on controlling your consumption past that point, as drinking more will make things worse for you.
Pacing your drinking, setting limits, and being mindful about your alcohol consumption are excellent ways to stop at the top. It won’t be easy, but you will be happy you did.