The occasional glass of wine or a pint down the pub is a common form of relief after a stressful days’ work. However, using alcohol to reduce anxiety over a prolonged period can be risky and lead to some seriously negative consequences. Here are the five risks of using alcohol to relieve anxiety.
Depending on alcohol to solve your problems means that you are not addressing the cause of your anxiety. This is extremely unhealthy behavior. Beyond ignoring what your problem might actually be, you are simply not finding a way to resolve it. This extends the length of time in which you are likely to feel anxious. Due to the nature of anxiety and the likelihood that whatever is making you anxious is a normal part of your day-to-day life, you are contributing to a highly unstable state of mind that could ultimately lead to alcohol addiction.
Using alcohol to treat your anxiety leads to avoidance. The point of drinking alcohol is to create a mental escape from the world around you. In the case of anxiety, using alcohol is simply a crutch for avoiding your problems. This means that rather than confronting or dealing with your problems, you simply end up ignoring them. This leads to further anxiety in the future and more alcohol to ‘treat it.’
Over a prolonged period, overuse of self-medication through alcohol will lead to alcohol-related liver damage. Not only can it lead to feeling sick, but weight loss, drowsiness and vomiting are also common symptoms. These can have a hugely detrimental effect on your life and in extreme cases, can even lead to liver failure.
If you constantly feel anxious, and constantly feel the need to drink, then the chances are that you are developing an alcohol addiction. Alcohol addiction can entirely rule and destroy your life, altering your mental state, making it impossible to lead a normal healthy life. The escape that alcohol creates means that those that are anxious are dangerously susceptible to alcohol addiction. In fact, one study found that up to 9% of alcoholics in the USA were led to alcoholism as a direct consequence of anxiety.
Contributes To Anxiety
Using alcohol to try to cure your anxiety can function as a double-edged sword. In the short term, it might indeed take the edge off. However, alcohol alters your brain’s serotonin levels, which exacerbates anxiety once the initial effects of alcohol have worn off. This has a circular effect. Once you become more anxious after the alcohol, your initial reaction might be to then go and have some more alcohol to once again, ‘take the edge off.’
This pattern can lead to other serious issues that are related to addiction and dependency, without ever addressing the cause of what makes you feel anxious. Having the occasional drink after work is not necessarily a terrible thing. However, when alcohol becomes a common crutch to help relieve your anxiety, you could begin to develop several problems.
Always drink alcohol responsibility and seek alternative means to help in dealing with your anxiety – the short-term benefits of alcohol are certainly not worth the long-term detriments.