In Annie Grace‘s 2018 book This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness & Change Your Life, she offers many quotes from others on the subject of alcohol overuse. (See my previous post.) One, for example, is from F. Scott Fitzgerald: “First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.”
Below, though, are selected quotes from the increasingly respected Grace herself (from This Naked Mind):
For simplicity, let’s define addiction this way: doing something on a regular basis that you do not want to be doing. Or doing something more often than you would like to be doing it, yet being unable to easily stop or cut back. Basically, it’s having two competing priorities, wanting to do more and less of something at the same time.
It wasn’t that there was always a reason to drink. It was just that there was never a reason not to.
Let me ask you, from a purely physiological perspective, how could alcohol possibly make you happy? The effect of alcohol is to deaden all of your senses, to numb you, to inebriate you. If you are numb, how can you feel anything, happiness included?
It’s not that alcohol makes drinkers happy; it’s that they are very unhappy without it.
Our society not only encourages drinking—it takes issue with people who don’t drink.
We’ve been conditioned to believe we enjoy drinking. We think it enhances our social life and relieves boredom and stress. We believe these things below our conscious awareness. This is why, even after we consciously acknowledge that alcohol takes more than it gives, we retain the desire to drink.
After all, alcohol is the only drug on earth you have to justify not taking.
Why do you think drug addicts and heavy drinkers hang out together? Could it be because no one makes them feel guilty about how much they are consuming?
Alcohol erases a bit of you every time you drink it. It can even erase entire nights when you are on a binge. Alcohol does not relieve stress; it erases your senses and your ability to think. Alcohol ultimately erases your self.
Ask yourself if you are happier than before. Ask yourself if you want to spend the rest of your life dumber, with your senses deadened, experiencing tunnel vision, and unable to concentrate on more than one thing at a time.
I have been the lone sober person at many of these occasions. Here’s what happens. The wine comes, and the mood changes, so the conversation is intelligent, quick-witted, and full of life. Fast-forward two or three glasses, and conversation grows a bit dull, even among some of the most intelligent people. The wine does exactly what it is supposed to; it slows your brain function and dulls your senses.
The problem with alcohol is that once you start drinking you can’t judge the point where a little is good and a lot becomes a disaster. When you are making a fool of yourself, or when your conversation skills wane, you remain unaware. Even if you could gauge the exact amount to drink, booze doesn’t make you cleverer, funnier, more creative, or more interesting. There is nothing inherent in alcohol that can do this.
But when you completely change your mental (conscious and unconscious) perspective on alcohol, you begin to see the truth about drinking. When this happens, no willpower is required, and it becomes a joy not to drink. This is the mystery of spontaneous sobriety…