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Your Mind Matters
Why I no longer drink alcohol
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Nope, I didnít have a tendency to over-do it, Iím not a recovering alcoholic and I didnít stop drinking for religious purposes. When I gave up alcohol, I immediately felt better. My Saturdays are more fun, I save oodles of money in restaurants and I regularly receive good messages in the form of abundant energy from my liver, stomach, kidneys and brain.

Iím 53, and Iím not getting any younger or any prettier so the last thing I need is alcohol slowing me down and drying me up. I also have a healthy fear of memory loss. Short and sweet: My brain needs oxygen, and alcohol starves the brain of oxygen. Hmm, guess Iíve still got enough oxygen in my brain to figure that one out. Studies show that many people with memory loss have trouble getting oxygen to the brain. Iím not going to starve my brain of oxygen.

While drinking alcohol is widely accepted as a social norm, many people who drink are unaware of the biological impact that alcohol has on their bodies. Hereís the skinny: When alcohol enters the blood stream, the red blood cells clump, which is what stops the bodyís ability to absorb oxygen. The clumping blocks the small blood vessels so the tissues and organs canít receive oxygen from the blood. Without oxygen, cells, tissues and organs canít function properly. This impacts the tissues and organs in the body, causing them to experience a suffocation effect, as they are not receiving an adequate level of oxygen from the blood. Not only do I want all the brain power I can get, Iím also not crazy about shriveled up skin either. Iím just sayiní.

Here are some of my favorite reasons Iím glad I donít drink alcohol anymore:

1. I like to be in control. Alcohol is designed to change the way you feel by altering your mood. It also has the ability to take away your common sense. There are countless examples of poor decisions made after even a few beers. Have you ever seen a really bad tattoo? Yeah.

2. My Saturdays are important to me. Life is short enough without losing half my Saturday (or any day after drinking) to a hangover. And yes, a headache counts as a hangover in my book. I have a family, pets, a house and a bunch of other things that Iíd like to be 100 percent present for. I canít do that if I feel like the north end of a southbound mule.

3. My health is a big priority. I know some people buy into the idea that a little alcohol is actually good for you, but I believe if something makes you feel like that mule the next day, it probably isnít.

4. I donít need it to have a good time. Since becoming a non-drinker, Iíve become aware of a huge segment of adults who think that in order to have fun, alcohol must be involved. Have you ever noticed how many after work social activities involve drinking?

5. I feel better when I donít drink. The last point on my list is the main reason I donít drink. I feel better, healthier, more energetic, focused and more powerful when I donít drink.

I have also found, when I am in a crowd of drinkers, it seriously disturbs their peace if Iím not drinking. Therefore, Iíve come up with a great remedy. I have what I call a Tequila Sunset, which consists of all the fixings of a Tequila Sunrise sans the alcohol. Itís deliciously satisfying and keeps the inquiring minds calm, because we all know that drinkers donít like to drink alone.

I chose to share my experience with you because it has made such a significant difference in both my mental and physical health. Iím not getting any younger and as I zoom through my fifties with more energy than Iíve had in a long time, I would love for you to have the same positive experience. I am sure there are those who are considering giving alcohol the old heave-ho for good and just need a little encouragement and there are those who wish they could stop but arenít sure if they can. I quit for one month. That went well so I tried two and before I knew it I was alcohol-free for the entire year. I was seeking change in my overall health and Iím delightfully happy with the results. Keeping my brain operating at its peak efficiency along with the benefit of improved vitality is why I no longer drink alcohol.

A staff member at the Bay Pines VA Hospital from 2006-2013, Dina Meitner, LCSW, is currently in private practice at 2081 Indian Rocks Road.
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