RE 256: What Happens to Your Brain When You Stop Drinking Alcohol

RE 256: What Happens to Your Brain When You Stop Drinking Alcohol

Greg took his last drink on October 2, 2012.  This is his story.

Update on the Alcohol is Sh!t book!  The book is out!  Pick up your paperback copy on Amazon here!  You can get the Audible version here!

Registration is now open for the 2020’ Recovery Elevator LIVE event, Dancing with the Mind.  The event will take place June 11-13 in Denver, CO.  You can find more information about our events here.

On today’s episode Paul talks about what happens to the dome when you stop drinking alcohol.  There is a long list of benefits of quitting alcohol, and the mental health aspects are just as important as the physical ones.

In the first year away from alcohol, and beyond, neurons in the brain that no longer fire together, no longer wire together.  This means the neural connections that spark when we want to drink, or take a drink, begin to fade.  In time new neural connections are created that don’t involve alcohol.

 

[9:40] Paul introduces Greg. 

 

Greg is 35 years old and from Orange County, CA.  Greg is an actor and has a 4-year-old daughter.  For fun Greg likes to go on adventures with his daughter and create music.

 

[12:25] Give us a background on your drinking.

 

Greg first started drinking alcohol as a social lubricant.  Alcohol made it easier to talk to people and deal with things that he had tried to avoid.  In the beginning Greg was more of a clown when he drank, but in his early to mid-twenties his drinking got out of hand.  He was no longer drinking for fun anymore; he was relying on it to get through the day.

 

[19:07] Was there a time when you knew the gig was up but you didn’t know where to go for help, or how to stop? 

 

Greg said yes, that it was a really demoralizing moment involving alcohol and cocaine.  He woke up, went outside in the rain, chain smoked about 10 cigarettes, and knew he needed to talk to somebody.  He called his sister, and without giving it much thought, told her he needed help.  His sister was there 20 minutes later, and with Greg’s mom helped get him into a place.

 

[20:55] What happened after that?

 

Greg entered a treatment center and white knuckled it the first two weeks, and then eventually the clarity started to come.

 

[24:30] Talk to us about your experience after rehab.    

 

Greg said he surrounded himself with sober friends and family.  He started going to school and focused on that, and also stated going to meetings.  About 6 months out Greg got a job volunteering at a treatment center.  He said he stayed really busy with a lot of structure.

 

[26:35] Why do you think it’s so hard for people to ask for help?

 

Greg said he thinks that it’s our pride that gets in the way a lot of the times.  Greg said he had a hard time asking for help because he felt that he would be a burden on someone and he didn’t want people to become resentful of him.

 

[36:00] How could it affect us if we are always thinking about the past or the future?

 

Greg says if we are always thinking about the past we are going to tend to be depressed, and if we are always thinking about the future, we are going to tend to be anxious.  Either one just drags us down and we are not productive.

 

[38:00] Why do you think addiction is higher in the entertainment industry?

 

Greg said that there are several reasons, one being that it is more readily available.

 

[44:00] Rapid Fire Round

 

  1. What’s a lightbulb moment you’ve had on this journey?

 

Witnessing my daughter being born.

 

  1. What is a memorable moment that a life without alcohol has given you?

 

My trip to Argentina.

 

  1. What is your favorite alcohol-free drink?

 

Yerba Mate Revel Berry.

 

  1. What are some of your favorite resources on this journey?

 

AA literature, online literature, stuff like that.

 

  1. What is on your bucket list in an alcohol-free life?

 

Seeing my daughter have kids.

 

  1. And what parting piece of guidance can you give to listeners?

 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

 

You might need to ditch the booze if…

 

You get married in a blackout.

 

Upcoming Events and Retreats.

Asia Adventure – January 20-31, 2020

Recovery Elevator LIVE: Dancing with the Mind – in Colorado – June 11-14th, 2020

Recovery Elevator in Costa Rica: From Jungle to the Beach – October 8 – 18th, 2020

You can find more information about our events here.

 

Resources mentioned in this episode:

 

Care Of

For 50% off your first Care/of order, go to www.TakeCareOf.com and enter the code elevator50

This episode is brought to you in support by Care/Of. For 25% off your first month of personalized Care/of vitamins, go to TakeCareOf.com and enter the promo code ELEVATOR

 

Connect with Cafe RE– Use the promo code OPPORTUNITY for your first month free

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“Recovery Elevator – It All Starts from the Inside Out.  We can do this.”

The Top 10 Benefits of Quitting Drinking

The Top 10 Benefits of Quitting Drinking

👋🏽 Hi, my name is Kerri Mac.  Some of you may know me, but I’m betting that most of you don’t.  I want to thank you for taking the time to read my blog, my very first blog. 

How did I end up here, writing a blog for Recovery Elevator?  Well, I like to think of it as though I graduated.  Two years ago I started writing the show notes for the podcast.  And now, here I am…writing blogs.  I have been a member of Café RE for over 2.5 years and that has changed my life.  But that’s enough about me, for now. 😉 

I want to talk about the benefits of quitting drinking.  And not the obvious ones, like the health benefits or the money and calories saved.  No, I want to go a little deeper, and more niche…and I want to make a list…because who doesn’t like a list?  

Let’s call our list, The Top 10 Benefits of Quitting Drinking.  Catchy, right?!

Here we go…

1 – Your authentic self will begin to emerge. I say begin, because this isn’t a one and done thing, and it takes time. That’s what recovery is, recovering the person you were meant to be and giving the inner child permission to come out and play again. This authentic self fully recognizes that the mind makes life out to be way more serious than it actually is. In fact, don’t forget Rule 22, lighten up and never take yourself too seriously. When you ditch the booze there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself rolling sideways down grassy hills.

2 – You’ll have the chance, the opportunity, to find out why you’re using alcohol to dull that internal discomfort. We’re talking about getting at the roots of this discomfort. No quick fixes or fads, but doing some serious soul work where we make that long journey from living in the head to the heart. This one isn’t so much a benefit, but a life mission and why we’re here. 

3 – You’ll begin to find out who you aren’t. Ahhh, you thought I was going to say find out who you are, didn’t you?  Nope. And in terms of finding out who you are, I encourage you to rid yourself of this lifelong pursuit because when we quit drinking, the opposite happens. We find out who we are by a series of finding out who we aren’t. Do you dig? Does that make sense? The “who we are” will organically be uncovered by a sequence of revelations of who we aren’t. For example, I’m not a girl who likes to stay up until 2 am and sleep in late, quiet early mornings are my favorite. It’s more common, than not, to find me awake at 4:00 AM…journaling or meditating.  You’ll learn you’re a strong person, deeply rooted in this world, who doesn’t need an external substance to feel good internally. Those days will be gone. Hasta la vista, baby! ✌🏽

4 – You’re open to signs from the universe. Whether you believe they are coming from God, Allah, galaxies, the willow tree in your front yard, or your neighbor Tim, you won’t miss them because you’re drunk or hungover the next day. Hooray!  🤸🏽‍♀️🤸🏽‍♀️

5- You can see the insanity of the mind. The Hindus called the natural dysfunction of the mind Dukkha, Buddhists call it maya and Christians call it original sin. You’ll also be able to take a step back, become the observer of the mind, and recognize this insanity. Here is what you’ll be able to see. Studies also show that of the 60,000 – 70,000 thoughts we have a day, 90% of them are equal or the same as the day before. 💭

    • It’s these repetitive thoughts that always drive you to make the same decisions. 
    • It’s these familiar decisions that always lead to the same actions. 
    • It’s these familiar actions that always result in the same outcomes
    • It’s these same outcomes that constantly result in the same emotions 
    • And these familiar emotions give you those familiar feelings.
    • And it’s these feelings that always lead to the same thoughts – thereby completing the cycle.  You can now recognize this and will be empowered to change your thinking. 

6- Your brain will start to produce regular amounts of Melatonin againMelatonin is produced by the pineal gland in the brain and simply lets your body know that it is night-time so you can relax and fall asleep. There’s an important word in there. It helps us RELAX when our outer environment says it’s time to relax. Studies show that regular alcohol intake drastically reduces the amount of natural melatonin the body produces which, as you can imagine, does a number on your sleep! 💤

7 – Welcome back Oxytocin, or the connection molecule.  Oxytocin is produced in the hypothalamus and is sometimes referred to as the “love hormone” because levels of oxytocin increase during hugging and orgasm. It may also have benefits as a treatment for a number of conditions, including depression, anxiety and intestinal problems. This is the molecule that allows us to build altruistic relationships with other human beings. When oxytocin is present in the body, we are living more in the heart area and less in the thinking mind. Studies show that pregnant women who have higher levels of oxytocin bond more strongly with their babies after they are born according to a 2007 study in the journal Psychological Science. 

8 – You’re part of something MUCH bigger. We all want to feel like we’re contributing to something, that we are adding to a project or goal and making this world a better place. People are ditching the booze more than ever these days and this global movement takes warriors like you. The bigger picture is that we are no longer looking externally for inner comfort. That’s really what is taking place, and you’re a big part of raising the consciousness on the planet. In fact, when we struggle with addiction we think we are in the back of the line in terms of success and achievement, but in reality, we are the ones who are forced to look within and make HUGE life changes.  We are paving the way for others. 

9 – You stop hoping. Yep, hope is the problem. When we are hoping for something to change, be it our inner emotional state, the weather, or whatever…then we stop denying what is. This incessant hoping for something to be different drives addiction and is doing a number on humanity. The Buddha noticed this 2500 years ago in Lumbini, now modern day Nepal, when he links all human suffering to craving or hoping for something to be different. That guy was so far ahead of his time. 

10 – You’ve got a chance to work on the one big lesson you signed up for in this lifetime. There’s a theory that you’re supposed to work on one major issue in this lifetime. Mine is connection. For others this can be letting things go, loving yourself, standing up for yourself, showing unconditional love to others, forgiveness, self-sabotage, facing fear, patience, shame, regret, and the list goes on. When our veins are flowing with alcohol, there’s no chance we’ll build the internal circuits around these issues. And there’s another theory, that if we don’t get to it in this lifetime, then well, you’ll start again next life. So why not get started now and start tackling the number one thing that is holding us back.

These types of lists are hard. It could easily be the top 100 benefits of sobriety. I challenge you to create your own list and then another one when you hit another milestone. Go back and see how they have changed. The first time I did a list like this, most of mine were external, now they are mostly internal. We are constantly evolving and changing as we walk this journey. 

Until next time, be well.  

KMac 🤟🏽

Costa Rica 2022

Registration opens September, 1st 2021 Hola alcohol-free traveler! This trip is the ultimate combination of alcohol-free travel and retreat. This action-packed tour of Costa Rica’s highlights is perfect if you love nature and being outdoors. At Recovery Elevator we...
Ways to Ground Yourself in Sobriety

Ways to Ground Yourself in Sobriety

I’m going to cover the techniques I use to ground myself when I’m having a rough day, or am feeling anxious.  Let’s face it, there can be times in sobriety when we find ourselves taking things one day at a time (ODAAT), or one hour at a time (OHAAT), or one minute at a time (OMAAT).  Sometimes on this journey, we’ll find ourselves logging days in our sobriety tracker apps like it’s no thang! Other days, we wake up and quickly realize keeping the mind in check will be a constant struggle. So here are some of my favorite techniques I use to ground myself, to pull myself back into the body, away from the mind and into the present moment.

 

  • Acknowledge what is happening – Anxiety is great at tricking you into believing that something is real. So all these fear-based thoughts you are having are simply that: thoughts. Thoughts aren’t real. Once you acknowledge this and say “wait a second” I’m not going to die, and in a couple of hours, one or two days tops, this will all be fine.”

 

  • Think in terms of we. Which of these two sentences sound better – 1. I am struggling right now. 2. We are struggling right now. Most of us orientate our thoughts to the individual self, but science is showing, we receive a great benefit when we think of terms of “we” which isn’t a lie because we are all connected. It’s totally fine to struggle on this journey, but there is no need to struggle alone.

 

  • Take your shoes off and walk outside barefooted. This is literally called grounding or earthing. You, all people, animals, plants, and inanimate objects are electrical beings living in an electrical world. Everything that’s made of atoms (so…everything) has a net charge that’s either positive, negative, or neutral. Grounding means discharging built-up static electricity either directly into the earth. The earth has a negative charge, and you have a positive charge. Walking barefooted in grass, or on the beach allows you to release an excess of unbalanced energy. If you’re pacing back and forth with anxiety, do it outside without shoes. You’ll instantly start to feel better. There are several books written on this topic that shed light on why earthing is so powerful!

 

  • Usually, when we find ourselves spinning out, we’re moving too fast. We’re rushing through the day seeking ways to mitigate inner turmoil, but we’re going to fast to find what we’re looking for. As Jane Wagner would say, “for fast-acting relief, slow down.” Usually, when we are in this perpetual “crazed” state, all tasks are done as a means to an end and little quality or presence is attached to any duties. I always tell myself, if you want to get somewhere fast, go slow. When I encounter a flight of stairs, I make a point to climb or descend the staircase slowly, making conscious contact with each stair. When I park my car, I wait till I see the clouds moving before exiting the vehicle.

 

  • Do not multitask – Studies show that human beings are terrible at multitasking. If you find yourself talking at the phone, and sending an email or text at the same time, most likely you’re not doing any of these tasks well.

 

  • You are nature, so take a time out, and go be in your natural setting. Ideally, pick a location with a soundtrack such as a stream, birds chirping, or the sound of the wind in the trees. Ideally, I try to go for a hike or walk in nature without shoes. Almost all of these grounding techniques can be done in tandem!

 

  • When I’m not feeling grounded, I start paying close attention to where this feeling is located in the body, more specifically in the stomach and solar plexus area. Almost always, I recognize this region is tensed up and tight. When I feel anxious, I notice my stomach muscles are always flexed, and my breathing becomes shallow. Once I’m aware of this, I can start breathing from the belly and relaxation sets in.

 

  • Stop saying I CAN do this, because you ARE doing this. It doesn’t matter where you currently find yourself on this journey into sobriety, you ARE doing this!

 

  • Go with the gut. 11 billion bits of information bombard your energy field every millisecond and most report to the gut area and not your head. Always trust the gut/intuition on where to go next, even if it seems like a 180 from what the mind is saying.

 

  • I tell myself “this isn’t me.” A couple of months ago, I found myself unable to fall back asleep because my mind wouldn’t stop going. It was frustrating and I deeply needed sleep since I had a busy day ahead of me. After about 30 minutes of the mind trying to solve every problem on the planet, I finally said, “Paul, this isn’t you.” and within a matter of minutes, I was asleep. As Michael Singer says in “The Untethered Soul.you are not the voice inside the head, but the one who hears it!

 

These grounding techniques are highly effective when the edge of life is sharp, or when we experience a craving to drink alcohol. I encourage you to practice these before an emotional rollercoaster arrives so you’re better prepared to ride out the uncomfortable feelings or cravings. Let me know in the comments what helps you get grounded.

 

RE 205: Recover Who We Were Meant to Be

RE 205: Recover Who We Were Meant to Be

Kane, with 49 days of sobriety, shares his story.

On January 1st, I launched the 3rd private, unsearchable Facebook accountability group.  All Café RE signups starting January 1st-January 31st will be placed in the new group.  This group will be capped at 300 members to ensure intimacy.  For the entire month of January, you can use the promo code 2019 for 75% off registration.

If you’re a Recovery Elevator podcast listener and you live in or close to the Nashville area, join us Saturday, February 23rd for Recovery Elevator LIVE in Nashville at 7 pm.  Go to recoveryelevator.com for more info.

Recover Who We Were Meant To Be

Tony Robbins and Russell Brand recently did a podcast titled Recover Your True Self.  In this episode there are two value bombs I want to talk about.  The first is Russell Brand’s definition of recovery, and the other is his idea of the main intention of the 12 steps.

At the end of the episode, I share a story about letting go.

 

SHOW NOTES

[6:49 ]  Paul introduces Kane

Kane is 45, lives in Adelaide, Australia, and has 49 days of sobriety.  He is a government worker.  He loves hiking and doing yoga in the mornings.  He is also a birdwatcher.  He likes socializing, and has been doing more social events since he’s been sober. 

[ 11:00 ]  Give us a little background about your drinking. 

He started drinking in late high school, and quickly progressed to “drinking for drunkenness.”  In college, alcohol became an escape from “this busy brain.”  He surrounded himself with friends who drank like he did.

[31:40 ]   What does a typical day in your recovery look like?

He gets up early, does yoga and goes to work.  After work, he takes his dog Rusty for a walk, and spends time with his wife (without fighting).  He has been surprised by how much he enjoys socializing in sobriety

[40:39]   What’s on your bucket list in sobriety?

First and foremost, to continue to improve his relationship with his family.  He wants to keep expanding his honesty.  He is looking forward to eventually getting a caravan (camper) and going on road trips with his wife, birdwatching along the way.  He also looks forward to continuing having good times without alcohol.

[44:00] Rapid Fire Round

 

  1. What was your worst memory from drinking?

 

Not being as good a father as I thought I was.

 

  1. Did you ever have an “oh-shit” moment?

 

Waking up after a blackout, and finding a misspelled note on his phone that he’d written to himself telling him where he’d parked his car after trying not to drive while drunk.

 

  1. What’s your plan moving forward?

 

Socializing, yoga, taking responsibility.

 

  1. What’s your favorite resource in recovery?

 

The Recovery Elevator Podcast.  He also has gone to an AA meeting, and enjoyed it. Learning to be able to be honest with others about not drinking.

 

  1. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received (on sobriety)?

 

Asking “Is this working for me?” and if the answer is “no” change it.

 

  1. What parting piece of guidance can you give listeners who are in recovery or thinking about quitting drinking?

 

Take responsibility for how you act.

 

  1. You might be an alcoholic if…

 

you ask your mother for lift to your car, because you’d been drinking the night before.  When you get to where you think you left your car, it’s not there.  You then remember that you’d driven it home drunk.  You then ask your mother to drive you a little past your home where you had parked your car so your partner didn’t know you’d driven home drunk.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Tony Robbins and Russell Brand Podcast, Recover Your True Self:

This episode is brought to you in support by Care/Of. For 25% off your first month of personalized Care/of vitamins, go to TakeCareOf.com and enter the promo code ELEVATOR

 

“We took the elevator down, we gotta take the stairs back up, we can do this!”

 

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