Stress drinking refers to when someone drinks in excess to cope with stress. Dealing with stress is something that everyone has probably experienced at some point, but it’s important not to try and mask your problems with alcohol because it will only make things worse in the long run.
Have you ever reached for a beer or glass of wine to unwind after a tough day? It may appear to be an easy way to relax, but it won’t help in the long term. Drinking more than the U.K. Chief Medical Officers’ (CMOS) low-risk drinking recommendations of 14 units per week regularly might make feelings of stress harder to deal with.
The effects of alcohol on the brain under 25 are mainly determined by the age at which consumption begins. Alcohol consumption under the age of 25 has an effect on cognitive functions, including memory impairment, problem solving, and decreased attention span
What Does Drinking Alcohol Do to Make Stress Worse?
Alcohol is a neuroactive drug that depresses the central nervous system and causes a psychological and physiological toll. Alcohol consumption disrupts the delicate balance of chemicals and activities in your brain, influencing your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors–and potentially long-term mental health.
Over time, alcohol dependence to cope with stress can disrupt what your brain requires for optimal mental health and interfere with our sleep, making stress more challenging to handle.
How to Reduce Stress without Drinking Alcohol
Alcohol dependence to relieve stress does not work. There are many more efficient techniques to deal with feelings of anxiety than drinking alcohol.
How to Reduce Stress Without Alcohol Abuse
- Involve the kids and get some fresh air and sunshine while exercising. Going for a quick walk or playing your favorite sport might help you relax after a hectic day.
- When you’re worried or nervous, relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga, breathing exercises, and a hot bath can all assist.
- Take pleasure in something you enjoy, such as listening to your favorite music or watching some humor.
- It’s also a good thing to do to write down your ideas and sentiments or speak with someone you trust about how you’re feeling.
During times of stress, you should not rely on alcohol consumption.
It has the potential to influence both your emotional and physical health.
It’s common to unwind after a difficult or stressful day by having a drink. Perhaps it’s a glass of red wine, a stiff martini, or simply cracking open a cold beer, but the objective is to relax you with some alcohol. Experts agree that while there’s nothing wrong with a drink from time to time, relying on alcohol to lift your spirits has the opposite effect. It can have several repercussions.
Medical and Psychological Problems Related to Alcohol Abuse
According to psychologist Denise Graham of Cleveland Clinic’s Alcohol & Drug Recovery Center (ADRC), stress and anxiety are at all-time highs for many people, owing to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis and everything that goes with it.
When people are stressed and anxious, alcohol consumption increases. How long it will last, not seeing family, losing jobs, and income, among other things. Even people who aren’t typically prone to anxiety or depression are now feeling it.
According to Graham, a glass of rosé or a strong scotch might help you unwind ahead of time, and release endorphins and raise serotonin levels. However, that is only a short-term solution that leads to long-term problems.
If you use alcoholic beverages as a crutch during stressful events, it can lead to major difficulties later on. You’re not learning how to deal with things as they are now in a healthy manner, and you’re not learning how to cope healthily.
If someone succumbs to alcohol to cope with stress, they may become more reliant on it, worsening sadness and anxiety. Experts advise against drinking excessively since it can contribute to ruminating on negative things which might enhance your emotional state.
Even if the drinking started recently and increased during a stressful period, it can still lead to long-term alcohol addiction. You can get addicted to alcohol without even knowing it. All you want to think about is alcohol.
Stress and alcohol have a significant impact on your physique.
Increasing your drinking, particularly during stressful times, has a variety of physical effects. “It’s not a good coping strategy under pressure,” says liver surgeon Christina Lindenmeyer, MD.
While it’s more challenging to pinpoint the long-term consequences of frequent alcohol use, for example, drinking to cope with a stressful event, it can still have devastating effects. Dr. Lindenmeyer also agrees that avoiding alcohol is beneficial because it is a depressant: “Alcohol is a downer and does not promote energy.”
According to Dr. Lindenmeyer, if your alcohol intake has risen in recent years, you are unlikely to cause liver damage in the near term. However, it might predispose you to develop harmful habits and alcohol abuse, in the long run, resulting in chronic liver disease caused by drinking.
In addition to not eating well while under the influence of alcohol, alcohol misuse, as well as a lack of nutrition in general, can suppress your immune system.
Don’t expect aromatherapy to help you get a better night’s sleep. It’s disrupting your sleep cycle and can make you more tired. That’s because when alcohol is used as a sleeping aid, it shortens the amount of time spent in the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep. Instead, for the first few hours, you may fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply, but you’re not reaching the most vital stage of the sleep cycle – the REM stage. As a result, you are likely to be drowsier the next day and feel less refreshed.
It’s not just a drink for relaxation and fun; it can also help you lose weight. If you’re attempting to feel better and boost your mood, you don’t want to overeat. Excess, empty calories might contribute to weight gain and a poor self-image in the long run.
There are alternative methods to handle stress.
During these stressful periods, it’s critical to discover alternative outlets to handle all of the negative emotions and cope. Maintaining contact with your friends and family is an essential stress response even if you’re alone. People are using the internet for socializing now, so use FaceTime or other technologies to interact with your family and friends.
Additionally, you can go outside in a safe manner for your physiological balance and encourage more positive feelings. Sit out on your porch, have fun in your backyard, or garden if the weather permits it. These are wonderful things to do as the weather changes since they provide you with fresh air and a change of scenery. You’re out there doing something enjoyable and this will help manage stress and keep you from binge drinking.
It’s critical for individuals to realize that, even if they are feeling alone, stressed out, or suffering from anxiety or depression, there are still options available to them. Many treatment programs provide online services for anxiety disorders and other mental health issues. It’s vital to maintain social contact, even when it’s difficult, and they need to know how to reach out and ask for assistance when they are under very stressful situations.
How to Tell When Your Alcohol Consumption Has Gone Too Far
During this global crisis, mental health experts are offering advice about how to drink responsibly. You’re not alone if you find yourself drinking more than usual lately. As we confront the coronavirus pandemic and search for a new average, alcohol sales are increasing throughout the country.
People should be a lot more cautious right now. We’re amid a slow-moving, hidden calamity that is growing larger than other ‘disasters’ where the damage happens fast, and then there is the aftermath.
The coronavirus pandemic is causing moderate levels of worry with peaks at different times for most of us. When new statistics reveal an increase in infections, further restrictions are put in place in your region, or someone you know has tested positive for the virus, these spikes can appear out of nowhere.
The combination of moderate levels of anxiety with fewer duties and less freedom is a recipe for readily available techniques to unwind. Plus, most of us work from home, so drinking more frequently becomes more feasible.
Most of us are now anxious—and our work schedules have been disrupted—which frequently leads people to drink more because of how the body perceives stress.
Is It Safe to Drink Alcohol Every Day If We Follow the Guidelines for Moderate Drinking?
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, women should not drink more than one drink a day, while men should not drink more than two.
What’s crucial is whether or not your drinking pattern has altered since the beginning of the pandemic. If, for example, you were drinking one drink every week and now drink one drink every day, despite being within limits, your habit may be dangerous and can lead to alcohol use disorders. Even if you’re consuming less than the recommended alcohol use —even within the guidelines—there is reason to be concerned.
One of the first questions to ask oneself is why you are drinking more in the first place. Suppose you’re drinking to unwind and relax since alcohol is a harmful coping method. It’s even more hazardous if you have a family history of addiction and alcoholism.
A lot of people turn to alcohol when they’re under a lot of stress or emotional pain, but using a recreational drug with addiction qualities to manage tension puts you at risk of developing a drinking habit that will take over your health—and perhaps your life.
Is it possible that drinking more alcohol than usual—even for a month or two—affects our health?
If you go from drinking once a week to daily—or even from a few drinks on weekends to many in one sitting—you’ll be vulnerable to addiction in only a few weeks. He states that this is especially true if you have a genetic predisposition toward addiction.
While a glass (or two) of wine at dinner may be beneficial to a healthy diet, it isn’t the best way to deal with stress—and can do more harm than good.
What Are Some Effective Ways to Cope with the Stress of Our Current Social Climate?
Anyone who is “stress drinking” should attempt to cope with the current global issue by coming up with two or more stress-relieving methods without alcohol. If you don’t come up with solutions—or if you choose not to use them instead of drink—you’re putting yourself on a path to greater alcoholism dependence, which can lead to dangerous spirals.
Instead, experts advise individuals to seek help from a licensed professional mental health provider such as a psychologist or counselor. If you’re feeling anxious, tense, or down in the dumps more than usual right now, you aren’t alone; many people are currently suffering, and there should be no shame in seeking assistance.
Last but not least, the bottom line is that you can’t escape reality.
If you already drink, it can be a healthy component of your diet when consumed in moderation—and for the right reasons. Once a week, having a virtual wine night with your pals may be lots of fun, but using alcohol to deal with stress is not advised. And while now might not be the time to start drinking since the coronavirus outbreak, now is not the time to start using it as “stress relief.”
You should never rely on alcohol to manage life’s pressures. Your psychological, emotional, and behavioral abilities should always take precedence. If working out, meditating, keeping a diary, or utilizing other coping methods aren’t enough for you, consider consulting with a professional mental health counselor to help you get through this difficult time.