Why You Cannot Stop Drinking Once You Start

August 11, 2022

Have you ever tried to say no to a drink after already having a beer or two? If you have been in that situation before, you probably know how hard it can be. But why is that?

There are many different reasons why you have difficulty closing the faucet once it is opened. But if you want to control your drinking better, it is important to understand what makes this so difficult.

In this article, we will explain to you the reasons why it can be difficult to stop drinking once you start and also give you some tips on how to do so.

Why We Cannot Seem to Stop Drinking

Moderation comes naturally to some people. They can have a glass of wine with supper, two beers at a picnic, or a cocktail at happy hour before going home without any issue.

On the other hand, some of us have trouble controlling our impulses, so we cannot always stop when we want to.

But why exactly is it so hard to stop? Well, it turns out there’s more than one answer. The brain’s cortex, which is the brain’s outer layer that regulates complex behavior, such as emotion, reward, motivation, and anxiety, is one of the most complex parts of the brain. One of the reasons it is so hard to stop drinking after you have been drinking is alcohol’s overall effects on the brain.

Other reasons include:

  • A mental health problem, such as generalized or social anxiety, may cause you to drink to take the “edge” off or function in a group. People often refer to this as self-medicating. It can be harmful for various reasons, particularly if you drink a lot.
  • While alcohol is a depressant, the component that reduces your inhibitions can also make you crazy and energetic. As you start drinking more, you become more likely to make decisions you wouldn’t make sober, like having more drinks than you planned or driving after drinking. This may not be a major issue if it happens only occasionally, except driving after drinking. But if it happens regularly, there may be a problem.
  • Your problem may be impulse control. You may notice it manifesting in different ways, such as constantly playing video games or worrying about being unable to access Facebook.
  • There’s also a peer pressure factor. It can be much harder to put down the glass when everyone around you is drinking and you are trying to fit in. Some of us are particularly sensitive to pressure from our friends and family.

Drinking too much alcohol is easy, especially when enjoying the taste of rosé on a balmy summer evening. Plus, a few drinks make you feel great! When you consume alcohol, your brain releases endorphins, the feel-good chemicals. At first, alcohol acts as a stimulant. You are ecstatic, thrilled, even elated.

Whatever “limit” you set for yourself, that fourth or fifth drink starts to sound amazing. As soon as you drink a couple of drinks, however, your “return on investment” decreases. You begin to lose your senses as the alcohol begins to take effect. Your inhibitions are lowered. You become more reckless. 

Your behavior may indicate that you suffer from an alcohol use disorder (AUD), formerly known as alcohol addiction, or are a problem drinker. Alcohol use disorders are characterized by a refusal to say no to alcohol, even when it is harmful. 

In the United States, 14 million people suffer from alcohol use disorder. Many people with this illness cannot stop drinking even when they know the consequences to their health, jobs, and relationships. Sunnyside also put out a study indicating that 64% of their members drank more than 10 drinks a week on average. 

There is a tendency to see AUD in black and white terms. People think they know what it looks like. However, everyone who drinks regularly and in enough quantities will develop alcohol dependence.

If you cannot reduce your consumption or someone close to you has addressed it, there is no shame in seeking professional help. You can start by talking to your primary care physician, whom you see daily. Therapists and counselors who specialize in alcohol and drug abuse are available if you do not feel comfortable seeing a doctor.

Tips To Help You Stop Drinking Once You Start

As we have learned at this point, there are many reasons you might find it hard to stop drinking once you’ve started. Luckily for us, there are also a lot of different techniques and tricks you can follow to help you make this process easier.

Here are some tips to help you stop drinking after you have started:

  • When you tell your friends and family that you are cutting down and that it is important to you, they may be able to support you.
  • Drink water before alcohol and alternate alcoholic drinks with water or other non-alcoholic drinks.
  • You should drink slowly, not in a rush, and take breaks between drinks. Sip rather than gulp. This will not only help you cut back, but you will also appreciate your drinks more.
  • Between drinks, eat a snack. A full stomach is less affected by alcohol, so eat something while drinking. You will also distract yourself from your drinking if you have something to snack on nearby. Plus, this could help you avoid hangovers.
  • Use a binge drinking app to help you keep track of your drinking so it’s easier to control it.
  • You can still enjoy a drink but go for a smaller size. Instead of pints of beer, try a small glass of wine.

Final Thoughts

Understanding why it is so hard is only the first step, though. Many things are conspiring against you when trying to cut back on your drinking. In addition to social pressure, there are also the effects of alcohol on the brain and how it lowers inhibitions. You also need to implement strategies that help you cut back, such as alternating your drinks with water or using a mindful drinking app to track your drinking. Ultimately, your efforts will pay off with a healthier body and mind.

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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