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Dopamine and Triggers

There is a definite chill in the air after a wonderfully warm September, but while autumn is a beautiful season with crisp blue skies and the changing colour of the trees, it can bring a set of challenges and triggers for those looking to stop drinking alcohol.

 

The weather is a massive trigger whatever the season, but once it cools after the summer, images of roaring fires, long walks in the woods followed by Sunday pub roasts can offer too much temptation.

 

But linking these romanticised images to our consumption of alcohol is simply our brains telling us a story that we need alcohol in order to make these situations complete. Sometimes it can feel as though we don’t have a choice in the matter. The real reason for this, however, is a cheeky little hormone called DOPAMINE.

 

While the combination of hormones related to addiction are incredibly complex in their roles as neurotransmitters, it can be useful to have a basic knowledge of the role dopamine, in particular, has to play in our cravings for alcohol.

 

It is Dopamine which causes the triggered emotion drawing us to pick up that glass – NOT the country walks or the open fires. While it is often considered as the hormone of pleasure, it would be better described as the messenger for what we consider to be ‘important’ in our lives. Over time, we have told ourselves the story that drinking alcohol in certain situations is vital to our enjoyment of them, so when we are in these situations, we receive the Dopamine hit.

 

Back in the days of ‘hunter gatherers’ and early man, Dopamine was a life saver. When something really important occurred such as finding fresh water or a new hunting ground, they would receive a hit of Dopamine which would then provide a snapshot in the brain of that area to assist them in finding it again. Fast-forward tens of thousands of years and we have given alcohol that same level of importance, so when we are triggered by a certain environment, our brains give us a confirming hit of dopamine. It feels uncomfortable going against that feeling which further triggers the need for a drink.

 

Once we give in to the Dopamine hit and have a drink, the brain becomes excited and unbalanced. For a body which naturally craves homeostasis (balance) it needs to counteract the excitement with another hormone Dynorphin to bring the brain back down. This can bring it down too far, creating the need for another Dopamine hit and another drink – hence why it is also incredibly difficult to stop drinking once you’ve started. And so the cycle continues…

 

This is where Boucha comes in handy.

 

Once the brain is triggered and the dopamine hit has occurred, a glass of Boucha is incredible as a placebo. You can trick the brain into believing you have satiated the dopamine drive without consuming any alcohol. Serving Boucha chilled in your favourite glass assists with this. Creating the perfect setting with friends or relaxing with a meal also helps.

Assess how you feel after that first glass. Has the craving gone completely or lessened? This is what we hear time and time again, proving non-alcoholic alternatives are one of the best accompaniments to giving up alcohol.

 

Once you resist the Dopamine hit over several weeks, our clever brains start to create new neural pathways and the triggering moments become fewer and fewer.

 

As well as stocking up on Boucha this Sober October, here are some other useful tips to a successful sober week, month, year or forever:

 

  • Find a buddy. Having a support network of sober friends is hugely powerful. Talk to your nearest and dearest and ask for their support. If you don’t have anyone close to join you on this journey, you can find thousands of allies at Club Soda – a global community of sober people and sober curious alike.

 

  • Play it forward. Imagine how the pub lunch could go if you drank too much. How terrible you’ll feel on Monday morning at work or on the school run. Then imagine how wonderful it could be, waking with a clear head.

 

  • Have a get out strategy. You can leave whenever you like – particularly if you’re driving.

 

  • If you are out in nature – really enjoy the wonder of it all. Breathe in the fresh air, appreciate its glory. Alcohol doesn’t make any of this any better. It is complete and perfect in its entirety.

 

  • Find a new hobby which you’d be unable to do when drinking or hungover. Exercise is great as it provides natural happy hormones. Getting up early on a Sunday morning for a run to watch the sunrise is incredibly invigorating.

 

  • Find new ways of shifting up your energy. Cold water swimming may not be for everybody, but if you like by the coast or near a river or lake (weather and access permitting – safety comes first), jumping in for a few minutes leaves you feeling incredible for hours afterwards. Dancing is another great way to shift it up. Put on your favourite tunes and dance around the kitchen like nobody’s watching.

 

  • As an experiment – if you are in a public place where lots of people are drinking and having a great time, just imagine that they have alcohol free drinks in their glasses. Are they having a good time purely because of the alcohol? No. They are happy because they are relaxing with friends, in a lovely environment, often after a day’s work. It is these things which creates the happiness, not the alcohol.

 

For the rest of October (and starting Sober October today is not too late), we are sending out 8 bottles when you buy a pack of 6, so stock up and be ready for an exciting new chapter!