How Alcohol Makes Fools of Us! – With Ken M Middleton


My guest this week is Ken Middleton.

I first connected with Ken a couple of years ago after discovering his brilliant articles.

He was first a guest on this podcast back in 2020 and we’ve been friends ever since.

We have a shared passion to highlight the drawbacks of drinking and the joys of sobriety.

As a firm fan of his articles, I was delighted to hear that he was going to publish a book.

He involved me in the development of the manuscript and has even included my story!

The book is called Bamboozled and is published TODAY.

In fact, I have a message for you from Ken – he says buy the book today (April 1st) and you’ll find an April Fool’s day surprise – a nice one!

The book is available on Amazon so go check it out while you are listening.

The subtitle of Bamboozled is “How Alcohol Made Fools of Us All” and it’s a great read.  After doing this work for 7 years I know a lot about the subject but even I learned a lot from this book!

In this Episode

  • Unlike myself and many of my podcast guests Ken didn’t come to sobriety from a place of addiction – he came from a place of curiosity
  • He wanted to see how he felt without alcohol
  • He was always a high performer in his sales job but knew that he wasn’t always operating at 100%
  • As he settled into his sobriety his performance at work shot up by 30%
  • He came to the conclusion that alcohol drastically reduces our potential
  • Ken talked about the compounding effects – for example, when we drink we only get two cycles of REM when we need about 7
  • Drinking regularly means the fatigue will build up and up over the years
  • I can really identify with this – when I hit 60 I felt tired all the time but resigned myself to the fact that this is what ageing felt like
  • Seven years of sobriety has changed everything for me and I wake up full of energy
  • My exhaustion was nothing to do with my age but everything to do with my alcohol consumption
  • We talked about comparisons and how dangerous it was to compare ourselves with hardcore alcoholics – so we end up feeling that we were not “that bad”
  • Of course, the comparison we should be making is with the best version of ourselves we could be
  • So the question to ask is not, “Am I an Alcoholic?” but rather “Am I living my best life?”
  • Ken explained that functioning alcoholics are the ones with the most to gain from ditching the booze
  • They have been expending huge amounts of energy just to keep the show on the road
  • I know I did – performing well at work, and managing family and social life is not easy when you’re feeling anxious and worried about your drinking problem that you are too ashamed to talk about
  • Ken summarises the science of alcohol dependency in detail in an article I will put in the show notes but here are the key moments:-
  • Alcohol spikes our endorphins
  • Our brain likes to stay balanced – in a state of homeostasis so releases dynorphins to dampen down those endorphin spikes
  • The dynorphin level then outweighs the level of endorphins (as our brain wants to get back to homeostasis asap)
  • That’s why we get that dip about 20 minutes after our first drink… our buzz starts to fade so of course we reach for another drink to compensate which results in more dynorphins released…. And so it goes on
  • As many of us know as time goes by we need more alcohol to get the same feeling, the same buzz
  • So far so good but our body is smart and it adapts to our behaviour and this is the dangerous bit…
  • Our subconscious will begin to associate everything we do leading up to the drinking as a pleasurable experience – and learn…
  • So when we are driving home from work we are already anticipating opening that bottle of wine so the dynorphins will be released IN ADVANCE, making us feel low and craving the alcohol
  • And the really scary bit is that drinking consistently over time will result in us not being able to enjoy things WITHOUT IT
  • Our brain will have rewired so it can no longer produce dopamine on its own
  • That’s why early sobriety is so hard – our brain has not yet re-calibrated to trigger our happy brain chemicals naturally, and without our chemically induced alcohol high we feel very flat – if you are at the at stage please hang in there
  • Listen to my podcast interview with Dr Loretta Breuning – episode 55, how to combat those early sobriety blues
  • Ken made the very good point that if we’re reluctant to ditch the booze we can just carry on drinking but listen and learn and you’ll soon start joining up the dots and realising…
  • WHY you wake up at 3 am feeling anxious
  • WHY you’re constantly tired and depressed
  • WHY you’re gaining weight and sleeping badly
  • Once you understand what’s causing these things and realise that you don’t HAVE to keep suffering your desire to drink will diminish
  • Reading Kens book Bamboozled is a great place to start with your education about alcohol
  • His goal in writing this has been to help people realise what they are losing out on when they drink – even if they are not dependent
  • Alcohol will always prevent us from reaching our potential
  • In the book, he talks about how we are manipulated to drink by marketing and societal norms
  • The liquor industry grooms us from our teenage years – they want to capture us as lifelong customers
  • I loved his use of stories in the book – alcohol parables as he calls them – he compares the lives of two people on similar tracks – one of those decides to quit drinking and the other carries on – their futures turn out very differently
  • Again emphasising his point that alcohol will prevent us from reaching our potential
  • He says that nobody should be drinking alcohol after the age of 40 as the damage it does will increase exponentially
  • We have less water in our bodies to dilute the effects of alcohol
  • You can learn more about this and many other facts in Ken’s book
  • So why not pop onto Amazon and order your copy of Bamboozled right now – you’re going to get a very nice April Fool’s surprise but only if you put in an order TODAY
  • You can also follow Ken on Medium where he publishes regular articles like this one and he has his own newsletter called Ainyf (Alcohol is Not Your Friend)

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