Daily Archives: 07/01/2014

Growing pains

I’ve been wondering about Christmas Eve and why it was difficult for me.  But actually after only a little thought it became clear that this first one was going to be hard.  Why?  Because for the last 26 Christmas’ I have always had a drink.  Even when I was pregnant, because current UK guidelines permit a unit per week, I would have had a glass.  That’s a lot of years to establish a very ingrained habit and so my first year was going to bring growing pains.

Not only that but I started drinking when I was a teenager and research shows that typically from the age of 11 or 12 to approximately 24 years old our neural development is marked by a second overproduction of neurons, dendrites, and synapses within our brain.   As the neuronal pathways proliferate, the brain selectively strengthens some neuronal pathways, while the others that are unused are eliminated. This is partly where the expression ‘use it or lose it’ comes from and this pruning process is based on activity and stimulation.

So if you began drinking during those years and became a habitual drinker, either through daily or binge-drinking, then your drinking pathways were set and other synaptic pathways were pruned away leaving you with a brain architecture that was literally ‘hard wired’ to drink.  This is not irreversible but coupled with then another 20 years of habitual drinking takes much more effort to change and hence why I’m experiencing the discomfort.  A little pain for immeasurable brain gain 🙂