Having specialised in addiction for so long I’ve had a lot of experience with clients who had an ‘alcohol problem’, and I regularly treat clients who want to give up alcohol because they think it’s bad for them.
I’ll start by saying that although I’m obsessed with health and live for it, I also love good wine and I have a glass most evenings. Obviously, with my own past of numerous addictions, which included an alcohol addiction, I am well aware of how easily alcohol can take control of your life, but if you have the right lifestyle this will never happen and a glass of wine can be both medicinal and enjoyable.
The reason we love good wine (and other alcoholic beverages) is usually for its calming action. For many people, there’s nothing better than getting home after a stressful day and sitting down with a glass of nice wine (or a cold beer or two). But this is exactly how an alcohol problem can start. If you use alcohol to unwind and to relax after a hectic day you aren’t really relaxing, you are letting a substance do it for you, and the energetic condition underlying your stress is still active.
In Chinese medicine stress is a stagnation of liver chi. The calming or relaxing action of alcohol is due to a forced chi flow, but whatever is obstructing your liver chi flow is still there. Alcohol doesn’t resolve anything. On the contrary alcohol can cause friction in the meridians which then increases the stagnation, and you can feel even more stressed afterwards. Then you need more alcohol to get the relaxing effect (tolerance rises) and your stress levels continue to increase.
In Chinese medicine red wine is considered medicinal (if you know how to drink). It treats and nourishes the kidney but if we misuse alcohol it will deplete the kidneys. Our kidneys store our will power, so alcohol abuse depletes will power while simultaneously increasing stress. Kidneys also belong to the water element which controls the fire, our heart, so with depleted kidneys our heart becomes weaker and, as the heart is the home of your mind, it becomes more difficult to feel as if you in control life. Put all this together and you have the environment for alcohol addiction.
The problem is not the alcohol and the solution is simple, get a smooth flow of chi in place before you have a drink. This puts you in a state where you don’t need alcohol and then it becomes a nice add-on to your evening. So, after a hectic day before you have that wine or beer, just do five to ten minutes of Qi-gong. If you’re heading out with workmates, find a secluded spot in a park or an empty room in your office and do the same. The plan is to get the yang urge down by sinking into your legs. The chill-factor you get just from doing this is the equivalent of one drink. Then consciously move your chi until your body feels vibrant. The effect of this is equivalent to another drink. You want to feel ‘empty’ in the head but recharged and uplifted in the body. So by the time you pour yourself a drink, you are already in the state three drinks would have created without having touched a drop! Maybe that’s why Taoism, the origin of Chinese medicine, referred to chi practices as the art of drunkenness.
I treated so many clients in the past who thought they were alcoholics because they ended up needing a bottle or two before they could even sleep. They’d been told they were diseased for life (I was told this too back in the day) and told they would never be able to drink again, and so on. But they just didn’t know how to live. The secret ingredient to control of any substance is a chi practice because if you master yin and yang and the movement of chi you can get the effect of alcohol or drugs or caffeine or sugar, whenever you want, and then just have that stuff occasionally for fun. Lifestyle can be the most powerful and uplifting medicine, and if you get the right lifestyle going you’ll never be dependent on any substance or even the opinions of others, it’s 24/7 freedom!
For some updates on my approach to alcohol and health, watch my new YouTube Alcohol, Alchemy and Chi