Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Why Heavy Drinkers Drink - a look at motivation

Motivation can go two ways. There’s motivation not to drink and there’s motivation to drink. In heavy drinkers, the motivation to drink is usually strongest when they start to drink and then once the drink takes over - there’s no stopping – only sleep, lack of money and closing time can stop them.

This doesn’t mean that heavy drinkers don't have any motivation to drink less. In fact, heavy drinkers have some of the strongest feelings against drinking. Ask them when they have a hangover, when they’re sick from drink, when they feel crappy the next day, when they ruined a close relationship and you’ll find many of them against drinking. The only problem is that this motivation evaporates when drinking time comes round.

The Motivation to Drink Less.

In the graph, the short red lines represent times that you start drinking.  For heavy drinkers, it’s these points that their motivation to control or not to drink is at its lowest.

In a heavy drinker, the motivation to drink less varies quite a bit. Probably more so than someone who doesn’t drink because they regularly suffer the ill effects from drinking too much. Personally, I don’t know how many times I’ve said “Never again, I’m never going to drink again” when I’ve been suffering from a severe hangover.

From looking at the graph I could conclude that;

• Heavy drinkers already know that drinking is bad for them.
Motivation to drink less is inconsistent.
• Heavy drinkers must also think there are big benefits to drinking.

So why does the motivation to drink less go?

From high motivation to low motivation to control your drinking – what happens?

Numbers correspond to the graph

1 – severe hangover – feeling towards drinking – hate
2 – hangover subsides – it’s bearable.
3 – friend calls – he wants to go out drinking tomorrow night. You’re not enthusiastic but you agree. You think you’ll drink less.
4 – you see an advert on drinking – it reminds you why you drink
5 – you’re excited about meeting your friends, going out, the possibilities of what might happen. You don’t think about drinking directly but it’s an integral part of it.
6 – you start drinking. Your feelings towards drinking is positive.

Heavy drinkers drink for a reason. They have strong positive associations with drinking, otherwise they wouldn’t drink so much the next time.

What are those reasons?

Manliness, sex, fun, good times, more socialable, chance to meet the opposite sex, stress, relaxation, nerves, sophisticated, cultured, status, exciting, makes my life more interesting, social bonding, etc.

If you want to control or stop your drinking, it’s these positive associations you need to address.

For example;

Does drinking really make you more manly?
Are you more socialable when you drink?
Does drinking really make your life more interesting?
Are times really better if you drink?
Are you really more relaxed from drinking?

I’ll focus more on some of these individual points in the future.

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