This Naked Mind. A Review.

When did alcohol become such a mainstream part of society? Has it always been ingrained in our culture or is it just more heavily glorified now? Is it better marketing? Social conditioning? We would be hard-pressed to watch anything on TV these days without seeing a wide range of people having fun and living life to the fullest, drinking alcohol while celebrating a variety of milestones and achievements.

This Naked Mind was a recommended read by a high school friend I had not had contact with in years. She had been following my blog and felt she needed to reach out and share this book. I am glad she did. Thanks Julie!

This Naked Mind written by Annie Grace, shares her very candid, personal relationship with alcohol. A heavy social (and often solo) drinker, she concluded (after many years of soul searching), that alcohol was not adding to her enjoyment of life. She started to investigate the psychological and neurological components of alcohol based on the latest science. She also began to examine the cultural, social and industry factors that encourage alcohol dependence in all of us.

This book truly was an eye-opener. I am not a big drinker these days, but on social outings I tend to reach for a drink (or 3). I have some social anxiety and alcohol tends to help. However, reading Annie’s book, reminded me that there was one point in my life where I did not need to drink to attend social events. At one point in my life alcohol was not even palatable! When did I decide that I needed alcohol to “have a good time”?

We observe our parents and their friends enjoying the use of alcohol from a very young age - “it’s only for grown-ups”, or “it’s mommy juice”. Children emulate their parents. What do you think they will be dying to try once they hit those adolescent years? Why wouldn’t they want to trade in juice boxes for bottles of beer? The adults around them seem to always be having such a good time when they drink!

Last year I did a podcast with neurologist Dr. Mellissa Tasse where we discussed how substance use affects the teenage brain. The use of any substance during these young formative years can have dire consequences on the development of the adolescent brain. Dr. Tasse highlighted how the use of substances (particularly in an adolescent brain) will cause the newly forming dopamine receptors to create cravings that will ultimately override healthy pleasure-seeking habits (rewards) such as exercise, having sex, eating food, or drinking water.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the mean age for the onset of alcohol dependence is now twenty-two years old. Grace highlights a study done by the Prevention Research and Methodology Center at Pennsylvania State University that found that teens who drink in high school have a significantly higher risk of binging in college. The study also confirmed how influential parental behaviour is on that of their teens. But we already know that as parents, right?

When did it become ok to question those who chose not to imbibe? Ms. Grace notices this herself, commenting that “it seems our society not only encourages drinking, but it also takes issue with those who don’t drink”.  In fact, she believes that the reason non-drinkers make drinkers so uncomfortable is that deep down inside, drinkers know that alcohol is bad for them.

Not only does alcohol slow down the pace of communication between the neurotransmitters in the brain, but it decreases responsiveness and deadens senses. It interferes with the ability to behave, think, and interact socially. It artificially stimulates the brain’s pleasure centers. It weakens your heart, making it hard for it to regulate itself. If affects the liver by damaging liver cells and weakening the body’s natural defenses. And it affects our immune system, leaving us more susceptible to illness and disease.

Alcohol slows down the pace of communication between the neurotransmitters in our brain. It decreases your responsiveness and deadens your senses. It interferes with your ability to behave, think, and interact socially. It artificially stimulates the brain’s pleasure centers. It affects your heart by weakening it, making it hard for it to regulate itself. If affects your liver by damaging liver cells and weakening your body’s natural defenses. It affects your immune system leaving us more susceptible to illness and disease.

Drinking causes cancer. In a meta-analysis of 222 studies across 92,000 light drinkers and 60,000 non-drinkers with cancer, light drinking was associated with higher cancer risks for many types of cancers, including breast cancer.[1] A seven-year study of 1.2 million middle-aged women also highlights the terrifying link between drinking and cancer. According to this study, alcohol increased the chance of developing cancers of the breast, mouth, throat, liver, and esophagus. [2]

The crazy bit is that both binge drinking and daily drinking have the same cancer-causing effect. Drinking alcohol increases the risk of cancer whether you drink it all in one go or a bit at a time. [3] In the United States, excessive alcohol consumption is defined as four drinks in two hours for women (five for men) or eight drinks per week for women (fifteen for men)[4]. In This Naked Mind, Annie shares that “alcohol is a leading cause of premature mortality, with 88,000 alcohol-related deaths in the U.S. every year”[5]. She goes onto state that “this means alcohol causes more than twice the number of deaths as all other drugs combined, both illegal and prescription”[6]. Yikes.

This Naked Mind made me aware of several things, but the one fact that stuck with me was about tolerance. In order to maintain homeostasis and protect itself, the brain turns down the pleasure received from alcohol over time.” [7] This my friends is tolerance, and what this ultimately means is that in order to feel the same level of stimulation every time we need to drink more and more. Sorry brain.

At the end of the day, I am unsure yet what I will do with this newfound wisdom. I already drink far less than I ever have, often only having a drink or two a month. However, being immersed in the world of health and wellness, even this small amount creates a dichotomy for me. Knowing how intricately the body works and how anything toxic can throw it off course, I should be able to easily embrace never having another sip. Perhaps this is where I will end up. For now I am glad I read This Naked Mind. I feel anyone struggling with the alcohol overuse, or any drug for that matter, or who may find themselves on the cusp of never drinking again will find this book a great resource. Thank you, Annie Grace, for writing such an informative, and encouraging book and thank you, my old high-school friend Julie, for bringing it to my attention.


[1] Bagnardi, Vincenzo, et al., “Light Alcohol Drinking and Cancer: A Meta-Analysis,” Annals of Oncology 24, 2013: 301-308.

[2] Allen, N.E., et al., “Moderate Alcohol Intake and Cancer Incidence in Women,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 101(5), 2009: 296-305

[3] “How Alcohol Causes Caner”, Cancer Research UK, alcohol-causes-cancer.

[4] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “One in 10 Deaths Among Working-Age Adults Due to Excessive Drinking,”

[5] Grace, Annie., This Naked Mind, pg. 61

[6] Grace, Annie., This Naked Mind, pg. 61

[7] Polk, Thad A., The Addictive Brain, The Great Courses, 2015.

Previous Article Next Article


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

Join Our Community

Receive exclusive wellness + advocacy resources to support your journey


Follow Us

Popular Posts

you might also enjoy

Have you been told you have low iron?

Iron deficiency anemia affects 1.2 billion individuals worldwide, and iron deficiency in the absence of anemia is even more common.  Knowing so many people suffer from this deficiency, it's important to increase your awareness and stay in tune with your body so that you can make simple adjustments to avoid any lasting impact.

you might also enjoy

My Path To Homeopathy

Thus began my quest to immerse myself in learning everything I could about alternative health. I read every book I could get my hands on, and started an enlightening journey with a myriad of alternative health treatments and modalities. I've written a lot about my initial journey into wellness and many of those alternative health treatments. Each one taught me something and informed my understanding of whole health. 

you might also enjoy

Tissue Salt #11 - Sodium Sulfate

Sodium Sulfate or Nat Sulph is a water eliminator and a deficiency of Nat Sulph will lead to an excess of water. Nat Phos which we discussed earlier, is a water distributor and these two tissue salts work well together. Nat Sulph is extremely effective in treating malarial fever as it helps remove the excess water from the blood which is where the malaria bacteria breeds. 

you might also enjoy

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is considered a chronic inflammatory condition that affects hormone levels. The ovaries are responsible for producing androgen hormones, and when androgens are produced at optimal levels, follicles remain healthy leading to a normal ovulatory process.

you might also enjoy

Deciphering Food Labels

Label reading can be daunting. And time consuming. But I promise that deciphering the ingredients on labels is well worth it to make sure the healthy meals you're cooking aren't sabotaged by ingredients from canned, boxed or jarred goods.

you might also enjoy

Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art. A Review.

Are you a mouthbreather or do you breathe through your nose? Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nester sheds light on why we should only be nose breathers. Humans have lost the ability to breathe correctly, with grave consequences. 

Recently Viewed