It’s easy to understand why people turn to drinking as a prescription for anxiety relief. When ingested, alcohol has a sedative effect on the drinker and causes the release of dopamine, a natural feel-good chemical produced in the body and brain. The resulting sense of wellbeing a drink or two brings us can indeed reduce feelings of nervousness and discomfort that anxiety brings. The problem is that this sense of comfort is short-lived, and the consequences of regularly drinking to relieve anxiety is that, over time, it can actually worsen anxiety. Additionally, regular alcohol use can cause depression and introduce many new problems into the anxiety sufferer’s life.
Like most drugs we use to help us alter how we feel, alcohol may reduce or eliminate anxiety during the first few hours after ingestion. It does this by altering the chemistry in our brain, in part by simultaneously increasing the brain’s production of dopamine and suppressing its manufacturing of serotonin. While the dopamine increase makes us feel more calm and relaxed at first, the loss of serotonin has the effect of making us feel less relaxed and calm—and therefore more anxious. The more we drink the greater these effects on our brain chemistry, and the net result can be a profound worsening of our anxiousness.
These negative effects only get worse over time. The more often we drink, the greater our tolerance to alcohol becomes. Needing to drink more alcohol to get the same effect can cause us to become alcohol dependent, thereby increasing our chances of becoming an alcoholic. By using alcohol to alter how we feel and becoming dependent upon it for relief from anxiety, we are much more likely to become chronic drinkers who need to consume ever greater quantities to get the same effect we once enjoyed after just a drink or two. Once we cross over that blurry line into alcohol addiction, there are a whole host of physical and psychological ailments in store for us. In the end, whatever anxiety relief we felt from those first few drinks pales in comparison to the misery that alcoholism carries with it.
Ultimately, we find using alcohol or any drug to relieve anxiety produces far too many negative consequences to be worth the initial relief it might bring. If you have anxiety and think you may have a problem with alcohol, please know that there is a solution. Contact Alta Loma Recovery at 866-457-3843 today! You don’t ever have to drink again, and you don’t ever have to be alone again.