November 24, 2009

Addictions, Habits, and Red Wine

Red Wine: This is my current habit/addiction. During my withdrawal from Diet Coke, red wine became my drink of choice for dinner. It's a habit that's been slowly gaining solidity for a few years, but made worse because of not having Diet Coke. I also have developed a bit of a resistance to the alcohol portion of wine. I used to have a natural, built in, self-limitation of how much to drink because I would be affected by the alcohol in the wine fairly quickly. But without that natural barrier, I can drink more. The more I drink, the more I get in the habit of drinking without thinking about the negatives of having that habit.

So, I've asked myself, am I an alcoholic? What is an alcoholic? I think that we are super sensitive to alcoholism in the United States. In other countries, things have to get pretty damn bad before one is considered an alcoholic. But here in the states, if we have the slightest problem with the habit of drinking, we are redirected to a local AA meeting.

So I ask myself, if I were in France, would I be an alcoholic? No, I don't think so. Drinking wine at every meal, especially dinner, is culturally acceptable.

But what got me really thinking about "alcoholism" and addiction was the fact that I was starting to feel about red wine like I did with Diet Coke. I asked myself, "Is being addicted, or habitually trained, to red wine any different than Diet Coke?" I am far less attached to red wine as I ever was to Diet Coke. And probably, the effect on my body is not nearly as bad as with Diet Coke. But it does bother me that I'm mindlessly putting a glass of wine in front me without honestly considering the ramifications, simply because my mind and body say, "It's time for dinner and wine!"

I'm not willing at this point to take red wine completely out of my diet. And I don't think I need to. But I've cut back and forced myself to accept that I want wine, and then not have it, for several meals a week. Each night I decide not to have wine with dinner, it brings up those same "habit" demons that tell me that I "have" to have a glass of wine with dinner because, well, that's what the habit is. The mind and body are very, very attached to habits. Every night that I choose not to have wine, it's the habit which calls to me, not the wine itself.

So, is there something special about having an addiction to red wine that is different than being addicted to Diet Coke or any other food or drink? It feels the same. It has played out in a similar fashion. They both have chemicals that cling to my body and change my brain chemistry. Yet, culturally they are different. To my body, and my brain, they seem to be the same. Either way, it's habit, attachment, and addiction, and my body's and brain's attempt to keep them alive.

1 comment:

Hampers said...

Nice blog. It seems that your life is going parallel to me. On leaving Diet Coke, I got addicted to red wine. It became my drink of choice for dinner. Your blog is awesome.