Alcohol and Anxiety
It’s normal to be tempted to have a glass of wine or a beer to calm your nerves on a stressful day. However, do you know that excessive alcohol use, particularly over a long time, might make you feel more anxious? Moreover, it can have serious consequences if you’re already taking treatment for an anxiety disorder. While it may appear that taking a drink would help you relax, you may cause more harm than good.
‘Unwinding’ with alcohol
The idea that wine may help you relax is a fair one. Alcohol acts as a sedative and depressant on the central nervous system. Alcohol may initially assist you in relaxing and forgetting about your worries. It can help you feel less self-conscious, boost your mood, and feel more at ease in general.
When someone drinks alcohol for the first time, it generally has a sedative effect. It might make a person feel euphoric and lower their inhibitions. These side effects might make it appear as though drinking alcohol is relieving the person’s anxiety.
The sense of calm you experience when you drink is frequently attributable to the quantity of alcohol in your blood (BAC). When BAC levels rise, it generates feelings of elation for a short time, but when they fall, it causes melancholy. As a result, a few drinks that cause your blood alcohol level to rise and then decrease may make you feel even more anxious than before.
However, alcohol’s long-term effects might create anxiety or exacerbate the symptoms of anxiety disorders. In addition, persistent alcohol consumption can develop to tolerance or dependency, as well as bodily harm (including the brain, liver, and heart).
Anxiety Disorders and Alcoholism
Alcohol is occasionally used by people with anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder and agoraphobia, to cope with their fear and worry. The “tension reduction hypothesis” is one idea for why this happens. According to this idea, alcohol is utilized as a form of self-medication to alleviate tension and worry.
Other studies believe there is a hereditary relationship between anxiety and alcohol intake. These scientific hypotheses imply that both anxiety symptoms and drinking habits may be caused by the same brain process.
A person who drinks alcohol to treat anxiety symptoms may wind up drinking more than they need because they expect alcohol to give some relief from their anxiety symptoms.
Another idea proposes that persons who consume alcohol and have anxiety have an expectation component. Because it influences the central nervous system, a person expects to obtain relief from their anxiety symptoms when they take alcohol in this scenario (CNS).
A person’s drinking habits are linked to their degree of anxiety and the amount of relief they expect from alcohol. In this circumstance, the more anxiety a person feels, the more likely they are to drink in an attempt to calm down.
Anxiety Disorders and Alcohol Use Disorders
When compared to those who have never been diagnosed with anxiety, people with anxiety disorders are three times more likely to acquire an alcohol use disorder at some point in their lives.
Alcohol use problems are more common in persons with particular mental health issues, such as agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder, according to studies.
Negative Effects of Alcoholism
Even if someone begins to consume alcohol as a coping mechanism for worry, it can rapidly backfire. Hangovers can be caused by consuming alcohol more often or in bigger quantities.
It might be difficult to function if you have a hangover, which includes nausea and vomiting, dizziness, dehydration, and low blood sugar. When someone is unwell from a hangover, they may be unable to attend to their obligations at home, school, or work, which can exacerbate worry.
Withdrawal is common in those who abuse alcohol heavily or frequently. Anxiety problems and alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be quite similar. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:
- Blood pressure and heart rate are both elevated.
- A rise in body temperature
- Anxiety attacks
When a person suffers from alcohol withdrawal symptoms, it can lead to a cycle of increasing anxiety and alcohol abuse.
Alcohol is Not an Anti-Anxiety Medication
If you suffer from anxiety, seek treatment from a mental health expert. If you believe you have an alcohol problem, see your doctor straight away. If you’re struggling with a mental health issue or a drug use disorder, it’s never too late (or too soon) to get assistance. Individual counseling, group therapy, prescription medicines, or a mix of these techniques are all effective treatments for anxiety and alcohol use problems.
Addiction’s darkness can be intolerable. It may generate a lot of humiliation and remorse. Shame, on the other hand, forces you to examine your choices and make better ones. It’s no cause to disparage yourself. You have more influence over your life than you realize, and if your addiction causes you remorse, it’s time to seek help. Individuals and families struggling with substance use disorders are not alone. It’s much harder when you’re overwhelmed by shame. Mountain Peak Recovery can help you overcome your shame and reclaim your brightness. Mountain Peak Recovery is a picturesque retreat in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. Call (801) 824-8829 if you or a loved one is struggling with substance misuse.