Do We Overdrink Out of Boredom?



I have a wise, pastor I communicate with by email occasionally. He is one of those people who can make scripture come alive for me. He’s a good storyteller – culling from daily life – and for me the message and the messenger must be affably joined or I yawn and pick up a People Magazine.


I do not want to be like George W. Bush stumping for John McCain (endorsing someone I am not sure wants to be associated with me), so he will remain nameless, but he said something that has me thinking, and I’d like to share it with you. I sent him a note a while ago, asking him how to find peace of mind in the every day. He had told a story about losing his serenity in a traffic jam, while late for a meeting and per usual I could relate to his angst.


He wrote back in his usual, assiduous way, explaining that it is not necessarily the exigencies of life that get your spiritual goat, it’s the boredom. He went on to say, “I’ll also wager that a lot of people abuse alcohol, not because of some deep trauma they are trying to medicate, but because they are bored with life.”


This seemed controversial to me. After all, we alcoholics have dicky dopamine receptors and we are oftentimes victims of abuse or strong negative influences. I couldn’t imagine that something as, well, boring as boredom could be a trigger to boozery.



Bored, bored, bored…


You will notice in the photograph above there are four EMPTY wine glasses within reaching distance. The real topic should be why are some people so spoiled they are bored in New York’s Orchid Room, with four glasses of plonk under their Donna Karan belts, right?


The fact is, some of us are hard-wired for boredom.  It has to do with our opioid receptors (opioids are chemicals in the brain that give us pleasure) – the same receptors that give heroin and morphine their oomph. I for one, do not EVER want to see a brain scan of my head. I can picture the technicians conferring with furrowed brows (“her neurons look just like a pinball machine…”) or running from the room, their lab coats akimbo… says, “Boredom is closely related to substance abuse in a number of different ways. It is a common reason for why people first experiment with alcohol or drugs. It can also be a good excuse to keep on returning to these substances.”




This might seem obvious, but the best way to stave off boredom is to keep trying new things. Or to do the things you enjoy, particulary the things you are good at. But not drinking. Even though we know you’re good at that…


Today I’m not drinking because I AM NOT bored.

How come you’re not drinking?