Drinking is just a habit, right?
It starts so innocently.
Happy hour drinks after work. A glass of wine with dinner. Friday night with friends. Drinking starts as a habitual routine for most of us. The American Journal of Psychology defines a habit as: “habit, from the standpoint of psychology, [as] a more or less fixed way of thinking, willing, or feeling acquired through previous repetition of a mental experience.” It is something many of us just do automatically, as natural as brushing our teeth or putting on shoes.
It was much easier to justify it by saying my drinking is just a habit.
Habits make life easy. They encourage your brain to think less. With the weight of my career and my homelife resting upon my shoulders, the less I needed to think—the better. Anything that was automatic in my life equated with being a benefit to me. Yet in the back of my mind came the nagging concern that my drinking had become much more than a simple habit.
I knew I needed to examine my belief that drinking is just a habit. If that was true it should have been easy to just substitute something else in place of the alcohol and have the same effect. A college professor of mine once told us of how he virtually eliminated his coffee habit. He would have one cup in the morning and for the rest of the day, he simply drank warm water.
In my case, I should have been able to do the same. A single glass of wine followed by a room temperature beverage should easily replace my habit.
Except it didn’t.
It wasn’t the habit that I craved.
That no longer satisfied me. It was the alcohol. Habits are something that should be relatively easy to give up given some time and effort. Alcohol wasn’t easier to give up as time passed and, the more I thought about giving it up, the more I wanted it. Clearly, alcohol had a much firmer grip on me than my morning coffee or other habits I’d picked up along the way.
Still think drinking is just a habit?
I explore this belief further in This Naked Mind. Start reading for free now!