Just because alcohol is legal doesn’t mean it’s harmless. It’s not only bad for your liver; heavy drinking exacerbates pre-existing anxiety and depression, and it can even trigger mental health issues in people who haven’t had them before.
How Anxiety Affects Your Drinking Habits
According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, about 20% of people in the United States who have an anxiety or mood disorder also have a co-occurring substance use disorder.
One of the most common reasons people start drinking is to alleviate the pain caused by these mental health conditions, but it’s all too easy to succumb to addiction by self-medicating.
How Do Your Drinking Habits Affect Your Anxiety?
Studies have shown that heavy alcohol use can increase anxiety symptoms and even lead to the development of disorders in people who haven’t had them before. This is because alcohol is a depressant, meaning it changes the chemical signaling in your brain and slows down your central nervous system.
Alcohol can cause you to become trapped in feelings of fear and panic. Moreover, hangovers can cause panic attacks the day after a night of heavy drinking, so it isn’t worth the momentary relief.
Are Some Types of Alcohol Worse for Anxiety?
When it comes to alcohol’s effects on anxiety, the type of drink doesn’t matter – it is more about the ABV and frequency of consumption.
However, some people with GAD or similar disorders may feel worse after drinking certain types of alcohol, such as those with added sugar or caffeine, which can increase feelings of jitteriness and discomfort.
How Can You Reduce Your Anxiety After Drinking?
If you have been drinking to cope with your overwhelming anxiety, seeking help from a professional as soon as possible is essential to develop healthier coping mechanisms. This can include therapy, medication, support groups, and more.
Alcohol & Anxiety Create A Vicious Cycle
Self-medicating is particularly risky because you can very quickly develop a psychological dependence on alcohol to function. For instance, drinking might temporarily give you some “liquid courage” to go out and talk to people if you have social anxiety.
Still, this coping mechanism can quickly become an addiction because you won’t develop the skills necessary to feel confident around other people without alcohol.
How To Manage Anxiety Without Alcohol
- Explore detox center near you.
- Find a qualified therapist or addiction specialist.
- Consult with a psychiatrist about medication.
- Practice mindfulness to help regulate symptoms.
- Avoid the urge to self-isolate.
Find A Supportive Alcohol Detox Facility
Alcohol withdrawal can cause increased anxiety, depression, and even panic attacks. Detox facilities can provide a safe and supportive environment for individuals struggling with addiction to begin their journey toward recovery.
With 24/7 care available for those first few challenging nights of sobriety, we aim to set people up with the confidence to practice a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.
Consider Finding A Therapist Who Specializes In Anxiety And Addiction
In addition to cutting out alcohol, seeking treatment for your anxiety is the most important thing you can do to stay healthy and prevent relapsing. An addiction-informed anxiety therapist can help you find new ways to alleviate your emotional pain while also helping you stay accountable in terms of sobriety.
Medication Can Help You Combat Anxiety
You may also consider talking to a psychiatrist about taking SSRIs, buspirone, or other non-addictive anxiety medications. However, please note that it’s essential that you avoid benzodiazepines, as this class of drugs can be highly addictive and dangerous.
Moreover, you’ll need to avoid alcohol if you take prescription meds, as complex or life-threatening interactions can sometimes occur.
Practice Mindfulness To Stay Present During Anxious Periods
If you prefer a more holistic approach to personal wellness, mindfulness can be a valuable tool in managing anxiety while sober. By focusing on the present moment and noticing thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations without judgment, you can alter your mental state without resorting to any substances.
Mindfulness techniques include meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, journaling, and more.
Avoid Isolation And Create A Support Network
It can be tempting to isolate yourself when struggling with anxiety and alcohol use, but it’s essential to maintain a robust support system. This can include attending 12-step meetings, seeing a therapist, and spending time with sober friends and family members.
Utah Detox Programs Can Help You Regain Control
If you or a loved one are struggling with anxiety and co-occurring addiction in Utah, consider seeking help from Nexstep Medical Detox. Our compassionate, holistic approach and evidence-based treatments can lead you to lasting recovery. So don’t let alcohol control your mental health any longer – reach out for help today.