Author: Shernide Delva
The truth about using alcohol as a coping mechanism for anxiety will shock you. The reality is alcohol is a negative coping strategy. While many turn to consuming alcohol to deal with stress and anxiety, it offers only a temporary relief. In the long run, the withdrawals from excessive alcohol consumption heighten stress and anxiety, instead of resolving them.
If you have ever been a binge drinker before, you know the feeling. After a night of drinking, you wake up with a hangover. Except the hangover is not just a migraine or bout of nausea, it is the overwhelming feeling of anxiety. The condition is called “alcohol-induced anxiety” and occurs typically after heavy drinking. Some like to call it an “anxiety hangover.” You start to contemplate your life, and the feelings of despair can become so overwhelming that some turn back to consuming alcohol to relieve themselves of their worst symptoms. Over time, it becomes a nasty cycle.
Instead of turning to a temporary coping strategy, you need an anxiety solution. You must approach tackling anxiety head-first. Read more to discover the cause and solutions.
Alcohol and the Causes of Anxiety
The interesting thing about alcohol withdrawal is that it can cause anxiety on its own. Even if you do not struggle with anxiety, you can find yourself in an anxious ball after binge drinking. Alcohol-induced anxiety is already a problem by itself, but imagine the effect if you already have pre-existing anxiety. Those who struggle with an anxiety disorder will find their anxiety worsens after consuming alcohol. After the initial relief, symptoms return at high intensity.
There are various reasons why this occurs. Here are a few:
– Excitable Central Nervous System
Your central nervous system controls your entire body, and when your body goes through alcohol withdrawal, your brain starts firing all sorts of neurotransmitters and chemicals. Your brain gets excited by the presence of alcohol. Continual heavy drinking puts stress on your brain function which ultimately increases anxiety.
– Fear of the Withdrawal Symptoms
The fear of withdrawal plays a role in any major addiction recovery, and when it comes to alcohol-induced anxiety, the same applies. The feeling of alcohol-induced anxiety can become so severe that many resume drinking to relieve their symptoms. There are a variety of physical symptoms to alcohol withdrawal such as aches, pains, shakes, and headaches. Along with those physical symptoms are crippling anxiety effects. Therefore, some continue drinking to ward off the withdrawal symptoms. This behavior only contributes to the anxiety. The only way to heal is through seeking treatment.
– Loss of Coping Skills = Higher Temptations
Alcohol makes it difficult to acquire strong coping abilities. When a person uses alcohol as a coping tool for too long, they forget how to cope with events occurring in their life. Stress is a coping skill. Alcohol dulls stress, so your brain no longer needs it to cope. Once the alcohol is gone, you may struggle to figure out how to handle stress, and severe anxiety is often the result. This makes it easy to want to return to old drinking habits; however, this only makes manners worse. You must learn new coping strategies to deal with stress and anxiety that do not involve consuming alcohol.
– Alcohol Contributes to Anxiety?
While alcohol can cause anxiety for all of the reasons listed above, alcohol also makes anxiety worse. Those who drink alcohol regularly and are vulnerable to anxiety are more likely to have severe anxiety symptoms because they’re starting from a higher baseline.
That’s one of the main reasons that it’s so important to make sure that those with anxiety avoid heavy drinking. Not only do you lose your coping ability, but if you do decide to stop drinking alcohol eventually, the long-term consequences could be very problematic.
How to Reduce Anxiety during Alcohol Withdrawal
So what can you do about this? If your alcohol consumption has become unmanageable, the best thing you can do is check into an alcohol rehabilitation center. These places are equipped to handle the effects of withdrawal and coach you through the process. Alcohol withdrawal is a tricky business and it one of the few drugs which a person can die from. If you have been a heavy drinker for a long time, you need to seek the assistance of experts.
There are several treatment centers employ:
- Slow Detox – Quitting cold turkey is not the answer. Most people need to get off their addictive substances slowly. The body responds better to a slow, gradual reduction. If you try and go cold turkey on your own, you may find the withdrawal symptoms too difficult to bear making relapse likely; Treatment centers help ensure that you are detoxing correctly.
- Replacement Medications – In some cases, some medicines may be given to help with the effects of alcohol withdrawal. The most common are anxiety medication for those who struggle with the anxiety withdrawal symptoms of alcohol use. These drugs come with their risk of abuse, so it is so important to have a professional guiding you through the process.
After the Withdrawal Phase
After the withdrawal phase, you will learn to control your emotions and gain coping strategies. Addiction is a complex issue, but many people become addiction due to poor emotional coping techniques.
If you struggle with intense anxiety, you must get help to treat your anxiety. Alcohol only made the anxiety worse or creates it in the first place. If you want to free yourself from the feeling of alcohol-induced anxiety, you must be open to seeking treatment from a professional.
Recovery from alcohol addiction is not an easy process, and alcohol-induced anxiety only makes the process worse. Alcohol-induced anxiety occurs during the withdrawal stage from alcohol. If you find yourself in this wicked cycled, please reach out for help. The answers lie beyond consuming alcohol. Do not wait. Call now.