Day 4: Urge Dirge

Alert: Video contains language that some viewers may find offensive.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
– Marianne Williamson

“One of the most difficult things about reverting back to “normal” or moderate drinking after the excess of the holidays is getting yourself to a place where your brain is back to optimal operating mode for good decision-making. Here’s where Dryuary can help…”

Hypofrontality is a condition of the brain which arises out of high, binge, or daily consumption of alcohol.  This condition exists because mother nature protects the most conscious part of the brain from neurotoxins by reducing blood flow to the prefrontal cortex to less than 15%. ( The only way to fix this is to give the brain a rest from drinking, allowing blood flow to return to maximum levels and feeling the brain fog begin to lift.  Nearing the end of your Dryuary, the pay-offs are going to begin to show through clearer thinking, the ability to find solutions faster, think critically, and catch the nuances of conversations and facial expressions. This is what the prefrontal cortex does. It’s vital for navigating through life.

You can manage cravings in at least 4 different ways: distraction, tolerance, extinction and tapping.  Distraction is probably the most familiar and recommended method for managing cravings. The problem lies in that this only works for so long. After a while, you become a human-doing rather than a human-being which leads to feeling overwhelmed and giving up.

The second method is tolerance. This method requires that you white knuckle yourself through cravings and urges, counting down the days (or hours) until your next drink.  Focusing on the idea of “I can’t drink today” only causes you to run towards that which you do not want. You are better off focusing on the “things you CAN do today”which probably includes a list longer than you can imagine that is more fun too. White knuckling is the most difficult of the three because willpower depletes throughout the day. The later in the day it is, the less likely this method will work.

The third method is extinction. This is permanent, it works, and is easier than you think. Psychological extinction means rather than distracting yourself from the craving or just surviving it, you use it as a detective uses clues to solve a case. Here’s what to do: The next time you have a craving, sit down and go into it. Describe it using your 6 senses – Hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, touching, and feeling. Write it down or say it out loud. Where is it in your body? Try to describe its shape, color, texture, and location. Stay with it. Don’t be afraid of it. You can’t die from being present in the moment. Then, notice something. It’s gone!  Repeat this method until you no longer have cravings. You’ll know it’s working when cravings happen less intensely and less frequently.

Pharmacologic extinction includes the use of a drug called Naltrexone in the Sinclair Method. Rather than take the prescription once a day in the morning (which affects more aspects of your life than maybe you want),you take it an hour before you plan on drinking and over the course of the next 6 to 9 months it is 78% effective in reducing or eliminating the desire to drink. You can find more info on the C Three Foundation website. (I have no affiliation with the C Three Foundation).

Lastly, tapping is the use of energy psychology to stop an unwanted feeling in its track. Learning how to do this is easy and there are literally hundreds of Youtube videos on “Tapping for Cravings.” What this does is send signals to the brain to disrupt emotions and change your response to the craving. For North American’s this seems a little airy fairy but it’s free and worth trying. If it works for you, you’ll be glad you checked it out.

So, what comes next? Once you master the art of managing cravings you get to a space of freedom, personal growth, and discovery. Ironically, alcohol IS the distraction. It distracts you from who you are and who you are meant to become. Alcohol fights the evolutionary impulse within all of us to transcend and transform into a better version of ourselves. Taking a break from drinking allows your brain to come back online maximizing your potential to rise.  It creates a beginning to becoming part of the flow of positive change on the planet.

Afterall, this isn’t about drinking at all, its about growing as a species into our full potential. Its about common goals, sticking to a commitment, helping a friend, not letting yourself down, and learning to really accept and love yourself.  It’s a chance to wake up and smell the coffee and choose anew what you really want for yourself. It is the awakening of consciousness. It’s realizing we are powerful beyond measure.

Post Submitted By: Michele Perron, PhD, LADC, CCSAC, ICADC, CAPP

Michele is a private international addiction consultant and has
been in the field at all levels of care for over 12 years. She is the author of
“Tools for Life.” To hear more about Michele, a Wellness podcast can be found at

9 thoughts on “Day 4: Urge Dirge

  1. Pingback: Dry Days are Here During the Dryuary Challenge

  2. helen

    Interesting video on hyperfrontality – particularly the part about cravings. While I have been known to overdrink, I can’t remember ever having a physical craving for alcohol. I can’t say the same about sugar. One of the first things I notice when I stop drinking is that I have intense sugar cravings that will keep me up at night. They literally feel tied into my survival! I am indulging them this first week of dryuary because getting back in balance with alcohol is a bigger priority, but as the month goes on, I want to work on my relationship to food/sugar.

    1. Kary May Hickey Post author

      Helen, I have been on the sugar binge since quitting drinking over 7 years ago and it is the basis of my Dryuary 2019-no sugar! I always laugh to myself when my friends who are still drinking say, “I’m not a sweet eater.” I want to replay, “Honey, put down that glass of wine for a week then come back, then, we’ll talk sweets.” It’s a good idea to let yourself indulge for a while, otherwise you feel even more deprived and resentful and deserving of a “reward.”

      You’re welcome back on the Listerv anytime!

    2. Michele Perron

      Hi Helen, thanks for your response. Try checking out a Keto diet. Higher levels of fat intake and lower levels of carb intake are linked to alcohol/sugar cravings. The keto diet has some beneficial effects on these similar pathways.
      Dr. Michele

  3. lisatherese67

    I love that there are methods for managing craving/urges. It’s nice to know there are alternatives to just “white knuckling” we all find our paths and what works for us. Thank you for sharing these resources.

  4. Kary May Hickey Post author

    The author of the Day 4 post, Michele Perron is one of our MM Moderation-Friendly therapists. She’s licensed in MN, WI and CA but like many therapist these days, she offers secure online consultation, so if you don’t live in her neck of the woods, it’s okay, she can still help.

    The term “extinct” always makes me think of dinosaurs so when I think of my urges, I picture them as dinosaurs. My urge to drink started out as one of those cute little, “Land Before Time” dinosaurs, but turned into something bigger and scarier than a T-Rex.

    What does your urge look like?

  5. Kary May Hickey Post author

    I spent 25 + years living in Distraction! I don’t recommend it, the HOA fees are way too high.
    I couldn’t believe the real estate that became available in my mind when the fog and obsession lifted.

  6. Jerry Porter

    “feeling the brain fog begin to lift. Nearing the end of your Dryuary, the pay-offs are going to begin to show through clearer thinking, the ability to find solutions faster, think critically, and catch the nuances of conversations and facial expressions.”
    Exactly what I am looking forward to the most.
    In my photograph, I saw myself interacting with my dogs in more meaningful ways. That is described perfectly what is stated above.
    I harm myself more with the daily dull hang over than with the actual drinking that takes place after I am safely ensconced in my bed.

    1. Horse Lover

      It truly is amazing, isn’t it? I can’t believe how many years I spent in a fog, not realizing how foggy I was, until I drastically reduced my alcohol intake. Now, when I do drink, it takes far less t make me fuzzy the next day, and also I realize how much I don’t like that fuzziness at all. I love the image of you interacting with your dogs! They are the ones who see us so perfectly. When we can see ourselves through their eyes (without the fog), then we can see what amazing creatures we are!

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