It Is Dangerous to Self Medicate Anxiety with Alcohol – Learn Why Alcohol Tricks Us Into Thinking We Feel Better
Those that suffer from anxiety (from occasional mild anxiety to severe debilitating anxiety) are more likely to develop negative drinking patterns and alcohol use disorders. Alcohol increases anxiety in the long-term, even though it may seem to offer a temporary relief from anxiety and panic. Many individuals find themselves falling quickly into the habit of self-medicating with alcohol, without even realizing that is what they are doing.
Alcohol Is Not Supposed to Be A Relaxant or Mood Enhancer
It is first very important to make it very clear that you are not supposed to consume alcohol to counter any feelings, moods, or health concerns. Doing-so is the act of self-medicating. If you are having anxiety about an event or situation, and you drink to “Take the edge off,” or ease your anxiety, you are medicating that issue with a dangerous drug: alcohol.
Alcohol Is One Of The Deadliest Drugs
For centuries, and especially before synthetic opioids were developed, alcohol was the main drug consumed by the world’s population. It was also the deadliest, and remains deadly-dangerous to this day. Alcoholism is a progressive disease that can start as self medicating or binge drinking and quickly advances into liver disease, liver cancer, and death (if the person does not quit alcohol altogether).
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), 140,000 people die each year from alcohol-related issues. Car and physical accident rates increase with alcohol use, and the risk of numerous deadly diseases (Cancer, Heart Disease, etc.) increase with the use of alcohol.
Alcohol Has Good Marketing That Make It Look Less Harmful
Marketing campaigns for alcohol have given the majority of the population a view that alcohol is mostly harmless. They have painted alcohol use as fun, cool, and beneficial to you. The side effects are downplayed and the image you are given is that the entire culture surrounding alcohol is warm and inviting, just as long as you “drink responsibly.”
It’s Harder Than You Think to “Drink Responsibly”
Recovering alcoholics can readily admit that self-control and the ability to limit your drinking is more of a lie that you tell yourself, than truth. Responsible drinking disappears completely the moment you begin to drink to change your mood or to relieve anxiety. Once you start self-medicating anxiety with alcohol, you put the symptoms of your anxiety in control. Your anxiety now tells you when you need a drink, rather than your brain deciding you want to enjoy a drink responsibly.
Anxiety and Alcoholism: Recipe for Alcohol Dependence
Did you know that the main symptom of alcohol withdrawal is anxiety?
Most people don’t realize that anxiety usually accompanies alcohol cravings. In-fact, anxiety comes alongside nicotine cravings, and other drug cravings. That anxiety is sort of like your body/brain poking you in the nervous system to get your attention. Your body and brain are saying, “I don’t feel well chemically, and you need to consume other chemicals to give me relief.”
The more alcohol your system is used-to having, the worse the anxiety will be when not drinking — especially as alcohol is leaving your system completely or detoxing.
Alcohol and Anxiety Attacks
Most people who have been abusing alcohol heavily for a while will have their first wake-up call to the seriousness of the problem when anxiety attacks begin. Usually this starts as an intense hangover after a binge drinking session. Alcohol withdrawals swell so intensely, that you can have an anxiety attack or panic attack or multiple attacks within 24-48 hours after an alcohol binge.
Someone who has been self-medicating their anxiety with alcohol for a period of time is not getting rid of their anxiety; they are numbing themselves to the awareness of the anxiety. Anxiety suffers that self medicate with alcohol are only putting off that anxiety until later; when the anxiety does return, it is often more intense and persistent.
“I drank every day for nearly 20 years. My life was keeping anxiety away with alcohol. Quitting alcohol was like experiencing 20 years of anxiety in 2 weeks” — A Former Alcohol Use Disorder Sufferer.
Relieving Anxiety Without Alcohol
The safest way to avoid alcohol dependence problems, is to never self-medicate any issue with alcohol. If you are feeling sad or lonely, have anxiety, or trying to loosen-up, you are asking the alcohol to change you at a basic level. Once you ask alcohol to mold you into a different person, it will continue to do-so, and eventually mold you into a darker and negative version of yourself.
Relieving anxiety through natural forms is the preferred method, and will ensure that you are not just covering-up anxiety or storing it up to be felt more intensely later. Attempting to relieve anxiety with alcohol is just going to leave you with a compounded problem of anxiety and alcohol issues.
Self-Medicating and Drinking Alcohol Alone
What are the warning signs of problematic drinking and self-medicating with alcohol? Drinking alone is the prime warning sign of an alcohol abuse problem. “Drinking alone” doesn’t just mean that a person sits in a room by themselves and only drinks; rather, a person’s drinking schedule only involves them.
A self-medicator knows exactly how many drinks they have throughout the day, and is actively gauging the time between drinks as well as how the drinks are making them feel. Again, this puts the alcohol itself in charge of the drinking schedule, not the person.
The Anxiety-Alcohol Loop
The anxiety alcohol-loop is what those chemically dependent to alcohol and alcohol treatment professionals call cycle that alcoholics get caught-in. Severe alcoholics’ anxiety and nervous system symptoms are so intense that the individual literally shakes uncontrollably. “Hair of the dog,” or drinking more alcohol to fight the effects of alcohol withdrawal, is a common way to temporarily stop/ease those shakes; but only for the time-being. The shakes and withdrawal symptoms get incrementally worse each time.
Alcoholics get caught in a behavior-loop, repeating the same binging cycle with alcohol over-and-over again. Not knowing a way out, the individual keeps the cycle going and worsening, until they are able to break the cycle themselves or with the help of an alcohol addiction specialist.
How to Get Rid of Anxiety from Alcohol
The process of healing your anxiety completely must include 2 parts:
- Finding a New Outlet for Anxiety Relief
- Quitting Alcohol
Addressing both parts at the same time is the best way to avoid the Alcohol-Anxiety Loop. Alcohol rehab programs and alcohol addiction counseling address your mental state and teach you skills to relieve anxiety naturally, while an alcohol detox program will be needed to help you completely quit alcohol.
Alcohol Detox to Relieve Anxiety
If you have experienced alcohol withdrawals and the deep anxiety that comes with it, you know that it can be very intense and uncomfortable without medication. This is why the body craves the alcohol as a form of medication. Doctors that perform alcohol detox administer medication assisted detox — giving the patient medications to keep them calm, comfortable, and out of pain and anxiety.
Doctors recommend those who have been self-medicating with alcohol to seek an alcohol abuse assessment to check the severity of your problem, and seek alcohol detox. The medically supervised alcohol detox will truly medicate the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal while you begin to heal and rebuild our life without the need for alcohol.
Have You Been Self Medicating with Alcohol and Are Now Feeling the Intense Side Effects of Alcohol Withdrawals and Anxiety?
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