The Complicated Relationship Between Alcohol and Anxiety

girl discussing her issues with alcohol and anxiety

The Complicated Relationship Between Alcohol and Anxiety

By Lakeview Health
Lakeview Health
Published: June 11, 2020

Whether you come home from a long day or you’re out at a social event trying to relax, alcohol is a quite common substance many of us reach for to manage our anxiety. Wine at the end of a long day as you unwind from work or a beer to loosen up while you’re out with friends are all too common instances of people using alcohol to relax and aid in their mental health. But alcohol and anxiety have a complicated relationship, which can often result in a dangerous cycle of addiction. Over time, if you continue to abuse alcohol to manage your mental health, you could begin to show signs of alcohol dependence and addiction. Once addiction occurs, you need the help of an alcohol addiction treatment center to get your life back on track.

Alcohol and Anxiety: The Misconception

Because alcohol is a sedative, it seems to make sense to reach for a glass or two when you’re looking to relax. The initial effects of the drinks tend to make individuals feel fearless, relaxed, and in a great mood. Due to these feelings, individuals will often return to this practice of consuming alcohol when they’re feeling anxious. However, relying on alcohol to help you relax is a practice that becomes dangerous quickly. If you’re finding that you’re experiencing anxiety on a regular basis, it might be time to consider professional anxiety treatment instead of reaching for a glass of alcohol.

How Alcohol Increases Anxiety

Alcohol is a sedative because it changes the levels of serotonin along with other neurotransmitters in the brain. These changes are what causes feelings of relaxation and happiness. However, when the effects of alcohol wear off, the individual may experience a heightened level of anxiety.

Research also shows that prolonged consumption of alcohol can change the chemical balance within the brain to the point where anxiety is felt more often and more intensely.

The Dangers of Alcohol Dependence

As you continue to reach for a glass or two of alcohol to manage your anxiety, your body becomes used to the substance. Over time, your system builds up a tolerance, which then requires more alcohol to be consumed in order to feel the same effects. After a while, you begin to experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms if you go too long without a drink. Your body needs the alcohol to function properly, and without it, you begin to experience uncomfortable side effects.

As time goes on, and you continue to consume alcohol on a consistent basis, you struggle with alcohol addiction. When this happens, you need the help of an alcohol detox center and treatment program to get you back on track. Through professional help, you are able to go through detox in a safe and controlled environment that keeps you safe from any severe withdrawal symptoms. Once detox is complete, you can participate in programs and therapies that help you identify anxiety as the culprit behind your drinking.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Lakeview Health

Lakeview Health is here to help those struggling with alcohol and anxiety. Our dual diagnosis treatment program focuses on both issues in order to help clients recover from their addiction while also learning how to manage their mental health properly. By teaching the necessary coping skills, clients will be able to reduce their anxiety without needing to reach for alcohol or any other harmful substance.

To learn more about the help you need, contact Lakeview Health today by calling 866.704.7692.

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