Alcohol and Anxiety: A Vicious Cycle
Alcohol and anxiety are a terrible combination, but a common one. A deep-rooted emotion, anxiety can cause extremely severe symptoms that get in the way of a person’s day to day activities. Often, people will turn to alcohol to self-medicate and feel “normal”. This may start as a drink or two, but what ends up happening is alcoholism. Alcohol brings out the worst in anxiety, and having anxiety makes a person want to drink more. It’s an ugly, vicious cycle that is very difficult to break without professional help.
Drinking to Feel Normal = Self Medicating
It is socially acceptable to drink during social occasions. This makes the line of alcoholism very blurry. Many people overindulge in alcohol, but not all of those people are alcoholics. Hangovers are spoken of all the time, and no one would think badly about a person who has one until it starts happening regularly. When a certain line is crossed, alcoholism happens very fast. The progression of alcoholism is an extremely slippery slope.
Often, people drink to lessen their social anxiety. This is completely accepted in our society, but it can become a problem quickly. Unfortunately, like any drug or mood-altering substance, alcohol is addictive. As dependence progresses, it takes more and more alcohol to feel the same effects. What may start as an innocent drink or two easily turns into drinking bottles of booze daily just to be able to function.
Eventually, a person will find themselves drinking before social events just to feel normal when they arrive. If they continue drinking more, this leads to blacking out or other scary events like accidents and run-ins with the law. Also, they will find themselves drinking at inappropriate times, like at work or school. People who have progressed in their drinking will often begin drinking at home instead of taking part of activities they used to enjoy, or social activities.
How Anxiety and Alcohol Spin Out of Control
When a person drinks to lessen their anxiety, it may work while they are drinking. However, when they stop, their anxiety will come rushing back, tenfold. The day after drinking, a person who has anxiety is likely to feel like they will pass out, jittery, depressed, shaky, and they may even have symptoms like an irregular heartbeat.
To avoid these symptoms, a person with anxiety is likely to pick up a drink the next day, even when they first wake up. This alone is a huge sign of alcoholism. The more a person drinks, the worse their symptoms will be when they try to stop. The further things progress, the harder it is to stop drinking. Professional intervention is necessary to help the situation and prevent the addiction from spiraling out of control.
Many people can actually develop anxiety as a result of drinking. When this happens, intense withdrawal occurs, which makes the person seek reprieve in another drink. Before they know it, they find themselves drinking around the clock. Whether a person goes into drinking because of anxiety or develops it as a result of drinking, the outcome of addiction is usually the same. It’s a bad cycle that fuels both the anxiety and alcohol addiction, and just making things worse.
Staying Away from Alcohol is Best for Anxiety
Even though alcohol may seem like it is helping in the immediate moment, the best thing a person with anxiety can do is not pick up a drink. Drinking will inevitably and without fail to exacerbate anxiety and make it worse. While a person may be hesitant, the best thing to do is speak to a doctor about anxiety and what kinds of different treatment options are out there. An option exists for everyone.
There is no shame and there should be no stigma about going to a doctor for anxiety. There are plenty of medical and holistic remedies for anxiety that can improve a person’s quality of life. Choosing to self-medicate with alcohol will only serve to bring a person down and make anxiety worse.
If you think you are suffering from anxiety, there are many options out there. Seeing a doctor to rule out underlying medical conditions is always a good first step. Your doctor may prescribe medication, but it is important to ask about non-habit-forming options because many anxiety medications can be addictive. Holistic remedies include meditation, yoga, exercise, and an overall healthy lifestyle. Additionally, there are many vitamins and herbs a person can take that can naturally help with anxiety. Always speak to your doctor about any new medicines or herbal supplements to rule out negative interactions.
If you are self-medicating your anxiety with alcohol, you need treatment to help get you away from alcohol and back on the right path. Sobering up from booze will make you more clear-headed, functional, and will most likely make your anxiety subside significantly. Without treatment, both the alcoholism and anxiety will only continue to get worse and worse. Going to rehab may be scary, but it is worth it to get a fresh, sober start in life.