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The Connection Between Anxiety and Alcohol Consumption

Most people experience anxiety to some extent—whether it’s worrying about major life events, difficulty with personal relationships, or stressful situations at work. These anxious feelings are temporary for some, but many people struggle with anxiety for extended periods of time.

Anxiety can set in for long periods of time, or it can manifest as rapid bursts of panic, leaving a person feeling overwhelmed. Many times, people suffering from heavy anxiety turn to alcohol to help calm down and relax.

While alcohol can provide temporary relief from anxiety, it can do considerably more damage in the long-term. According to some estimates, alcoholism and other substance abuse issues are three times more likely among those with anxiety disorders than those without.

Below we’ll explore symptoms of anxiety and how those suffering from the condition become addicted to alcohol.

Symptoms of Anxiety

There are different kinds of anxiety disorders, but some symptoms typically experienced by those suffering from anxiety include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Excessive worrying about social interaction or events
  • Fatigue
  • Fear of being judged
  • Feelings of extreme self-consciousness—particularly around others
  • Irritability
  • Loss of control or panic attacks
  • Nausea in social situations
  • Low sleep quality or routines
  • Prolonged periods of restlessness
  • Trembling

Anxiety and Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol can temporarily relieve many of the above symptoms, making it seem like a good solution to anxiety. When you drink alcohol, your blood alcohol content (BAC) rises. This causes changes in your brain chemistry that lead to good feelings and a sense of relaxation.

However, when you stop drinking, your BAC eventually begins to lower. Feelings of depression creep in, and the changes in your brain’s normal operations might even lead to more anxiety. In fact, if you quit drinking alcohol altogether, stress is one of the withdrawal symptoms you’ll face as your mind and body learn how to function without the drug.

Negative Long-Term Effects of Alcohol Use

Consuming more alcohol often raises your tolerance levels, meaning you need to drink more to feel good. If you develop a dependence or addiction, some of the long-term effects can be devastating and even fatal.

Virtually every aspect of your body can be damaged with enough alcohol use. And on top of that, excessive drinking can lead to several life-threatening diseases and types of cancer. When combined with anti-anxiety medications, binge drinking to manage anxiety also carries serious health risks and even death.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Anxiety and Alcohol Abuse

When you’re struggling with alcoholism and anxiety, you need simultaneous treatment for both conditions to have the best chance at recovery. These co-occurring disorders often have similar underlying causes, and dual diagnosis treatment can equip you with the tools you need to regain control of your life.

Listen to Chief Aaron’s Addiction Recovery Story

Listen to Fire Chief Aaron’s story about overcoming his substance use disorder with help from Cycles of Change Recovery. If you know someone struggling with addiction, share this video with them to remind them there is hope.

At Cycles of Change Recovery Center, we work with you on a personalized treatment plan to meet your needs. You’ll learn to understand both conditions’ root causes and how to avoid relapse during alcohol recovery. If you’re concerned about a loved one struggling with alcoholism but don’t know how to help, we can assist in staging an intervention.

Contact our team today for a confidential conversation on how you can begin the process of healing.


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