When you Google “how to stop drinking wine” and Tribe Sober pops up first, you know that it is meant to be.
And when you really don’t want to get help for your drinking, but you hear Janet Gourand, founder of Tribe Sober, on the radio talking about stopping drinking, you stop dead in your tracks.
Coincidence or not, two men drinkers I know tell these true stories. Janet’s saga certainly echoed their stories. Unbeknown to each other, they reached out to TS and signed up for workshops based on recovery coaching.
The Tribe Sober workshops are designed to help drinkers moderate their drinking and, first prize, get sober. This blog concerns the reasons men drink – and then want to stop drinking. It also touches on the differences between men and women drinkers.
Drinking Fills up the Spaces
For many men, drinking alcohol takes up a lot of time in their busy lives. They drink after work to relax, or at work to enhance their creativity. The men who agreed to feature in this blog were displaying alcoholic addiction symptoms. Something made them reach out for alcohol rehabilitation, counseling, or coaching. Maybe they were “almost alcoholic” or had “alcohol use disorder”. They are busy men who liked drinking but who had never really thought about why they were drinking.
“I think if I had to say why I drank while I was a drinker, I would have said that I drink for relaxation, to be “one of the boys”, a sense of entitlement, work hard play hard, etc,” admits Nathan. *
“Today, however, after 45 months of alcohol- free living, my answer is different. I was drinking to numb out all the tough parts of my life, too scared to face the difficult but important life issues head on.”
Nathan’s honesty can help so many other men to come to terms with their drinking. Get to the bottom of why men drink. Find out how the childhood pain, the relationship failures, the work stress and the financial burdens have overwhelmed you to the point of drinking yourself into alcoholism.
For Kurt, drinking alcohol had a different flavour completely: “I was a happy moments drinker: mostly with friends and with my wife during weekends and vacation. Drinking nights with colleagues also helped me be creative and think out of the box during some difficult professional moments.”
But when he realised that he drank more and more because he liked the feeling of being a bit tipsy. He also realised that he was not good at moderating his liquor – so he decided to stop drinking. He also wanted to get in shape again, lose weight and improve his health.
Deciding to Stop Drinking
Jim drank because, “It was the thing to do. My parents both drank heavily and all 5 of their kids followed suit. I started regularly at around 14. All school parties were drink fueled. I drank heavily in the army and right through my career.”
When he retired early and moved to the family wine farm, he said that he drank copious litres of booze. “I really outdid myself! G&T x 2 or 3, then half a dozen beers and a bottle or two of wine a night!” Of course, he gained weight and his health and relationship with his long-suffering wife started to take strain. That is when he decided enough is enough.
It is interesting to compare these reasons for drinking with a study done in 1993 on 781 drinkers in Michigan, USA, to find out WHY people drink. Men drank more than women. The reasons were mainly:
- Coping with Stress
- Drinking because friends drink
- Social reasons
“If someone drinks alcohol primarily to reduce stress, then this individual is most likely to drink under times of stress; it is at these times that there is fit between the individual’s personal motives and life situation. If someone else drinks alcohol primarily in order to socialize, then this individual is most likely to drink during periods of social activity.”
The study added that those who drink when stressed drank more alcohol when stressed. And those who drank to be sociable drank more alcohol when at social events.
According to Vertava Health, men are more likely to engage in drinking to model after others who drink, or in giving in to pressure from peers who encourage them to consume alcohol in social settings. Men tend to express feelings of empowerment with alcohol consumption and may drink to feel emboldened in social situations. Men who have high expectations of performance, whether from their own perceptions or from those of family, are far more likely to drink to regain a sense of confidence from the effects of alcohol.
Men Drink More than Women
Men drink more than women and battle to give up the bottle in the long term. More women give up booze for the rest of their lives than men. This has all been revealed in another study done in September 2009 entitled “Gender and Alcohol Consumption: Patterns from the Multinational Genacis Project”.
The study surveyed the drinking behaviour of men and women in 35 countries in a 10-year period from 1997 to 2007. It noted that “among drinkers, the prevalence of high-frequency drinking was consistently greatest in the oldest age group, particularly among men.” It concluded that “men still exceed women in drinking and high-volume drinking, although gender ratios vary. Better explanations are needed for why more women than men quit drinking …”
Nathan quit drinking because:
- He was drinking more frequently in his 40’s than in his 30’s which scared him. “I knew there was a problem brewing and that the next decade would likely look much worse.”
- He had significant health issues (adrenal fatigue and massive hormone imbalances) which were simply not getting any better, no matter what health interventions he tried. He was even seeing an integrated doctor every quarter for more than 2 years. But nothing changed. “Interestingly, the drinking never presented as a major issue with my doctor.”
For some men, like Kurt and Peter, the need to stop drinking is also a need for a lifestyle change, not a fear of addiction issues. Kurt wanted to feel fresh every morning again and he found that drinking only on weekends was a farce as it undid all the sobriety he enjoyed during the week.
Discovering Tribe Sober
Peter said that for him, joining Tribe Sober was “perhaps less about purely ditching alcohol, and more a convenient catalyst towards fully embracing a lifestyle that also includes vegetarianism and meditation.”
Kurt was attracted to the Tribe Sober 66-day Challenge because he loves challenges. It was not because he thought he had “drinking issues” because he saw himself as a fully functioning, successful and happy person. Don’t we all? Until we stop drinking and then we meet our real selves!
For Jim, doing the Sober Spring Challenge with Tribe Sober support meant health improvement 100%; relationships improvement 100%. “My biggest win is not having the stomach-turning anxiety which affected my life for 40 years. It’s difficult to actually verbalise how good that feels!!” He admits to forcing down industrial quantities of Pistachio ice cream though!
I take my hat off to these men! They have overcome so many obstacles and been able to look within and come to terms with what was a dependence on alcohol. Studies have revealed that men find it harder to give up alcohol in the long term than women. But women suffer alcohol addiction more than men.
The fact that men are starting to stop drinking is pertinent to this blog. It is evident that upon searching Google for things like “I want to stop drinking” or “help for alcoholics” or “counselors and coaching for addiction” men are finding Tribe Sober up there amongst the best.
Kurt reinforces this: “I did the Tribe Sober 66 days and decided to prolong to 100 days because it sounded even better. After 100 days, my then 13 years old daughter simply challenged me by saying: ‘100 days is OK, but one full year sober would be a real challenge and make me proud’. How could I resist?”
The Brain and Dopamine
Which brings us to the brain. Pleasurable things in our lives stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter or brain chemical that affects the brain’s reward center. According to Dr. Robert Swift, the difficulties people experience trying to stop an addiction like alcohol may depend on the time they have been drinking and the intensity of their use (abuse).
Swift added that dopamine “can stimulate people’s interest in and enjoyment of alcohol, so they continue to drink.” The brain tells the drinker that this activity is pleasurable. Until a point. That point of no return when heavy, frequent drinking fades away this enjoyment of alcohol.
“The brain gets sensitized to the release of dopamine… As the brain becomes tolerant to alcohol, people need to drink more and more, in a sense, to feel good, and this begins the transition from liking alcohol to becoming addicted to it.”
It is time to educate ourselves about this kind of physiological reason behind the addiction. Aim to be like Kurt, Nick and Jim – better role models for your children. Sleep better, experience better digestion and enjoyment of food, be a good listener and leave parties early. And you will always be the one who drives safely home.
Tips for men from men on how to stop drinking
- Know your why: why do you want to stop drinking?
- Getting back into shape and health is a huge benefit.
- If someone offers you a drink, simply say NO THANKS and that is that. No explanation required.
- Drink lots of water
- Tell your mates you’ve stopped drinking and to please support you.
- Find a go to drink when you go out and take your own if necessary. The first 2 weeks are the worst, after that it improves every day!
- It’s a tough journey initially, however the benefits far outweigh the perceived “loss”. It’s like having a second chance at a brand-new, high-quality life. Just do it!
*Names have been changed.
28 November 2020