Why do I drink?

A very simple question, which has some very complex answers. It would be wrong to talk about drinking with all its negative points without stating the obvious – drinking responsibly can be a pleasant and fun experience. Having a dependence on alcohol certainly is not: heavy drinkers are more likely to get divorced, or to end up in hospital after a drink-related accident. Even more seriously, they are six times more likely to commit suicide than moderate or non-drinkers.

Remember: alcohol is a drug. It makes you feel relaxed, happy, sociable, and loosens inhibitions. People who enjoy drinking often feel they are more attractive, interesting, and amusing.

Some people feel more powerful, more in control of their life. Many people drink because it helps them forget their problems, relieves their anxiety and stresses for a while. The alcohol makes them feel good so their brain tells them to drink more, and more, and more … Some people feel they are ‘themselves’ when they’ve had a drink; they feel free from their troubles or stresses. Unfortunately these feelings are very temporary, and offer a way of ‘papering over the cracks’. However, alcohol actually makes things worse in the long term. Actions we regret, arguments, even violence, are more likely to occur if alcohol is involved.

For many people who drink heavily, alcohol is the cause of all their problems, yet they believe the problems are an excuse to drink.

Some people want to find a ‘reason’ for their drinking. The ‘reason’ or ‘answer’ why they drink is more likely to be that they are addicted to the drug alcohol and feel they cannot cope with life without it. Drinking has become a way of coping. It becomes a habit. You’ve learnt that drinking releases you from anxiety, social obligation or stress. A pattern of behaviour has become established: you feel stressed, bored, or anxious, so you reach for a drink to help you cope.

How can I stop drinking?