When consumed in moderation, alcohol can be enjoyable. It is extremely common to consume alcohol recreationally within groups or just at home following a long day. However, more adults are using alcohol to help with stress. Although having a glass of wine after a stressful day may be a way of relaxing isn’t a problem, relying on alcohol as a coping mechanism can become a significant problem.
More Adults are Struggling to Cope
According to research conducted by Drinkaware, 60% of adults are drinking to relieve their stress. The organisation analysed the drinking habits of UK residents aged between 18 and 75 with over 6,000 participants being assessed.
The reasons behind certain drinking patterns appeared to vary. For example, 38% of male and female participants drink to forget their problems. Another 47% admitted that they drank to cheer themselves up whilst 41% confided that they drank when feeling depressed or anxious.
Though the occasional drink isn’t a problem, using alcohol to help with stress can have the opposite effect. Alcohol is a depressant, which means that it slows overall function particularly in the brain. It also reduces a person’s ability to think rationally and understand what is going on around them. For someone who is stressed or experiencing anxiety, drinking excessively can make these feelings worse.
Ways in Which Alcohol Hinders Stress and Anxiety:
The short-term confidence won’t last
Having a drink initially makes people more relaxed and confident. Although alcohol temporarily obstructs social anxiety, it won’t last for long. That laid-back feeling is due to the chemicals in the brain being altered but the effects are short-lived.
The “happiness” hormone is depleted
Serotonin is the hormone that creates feelings of calm and happiness. Alcohol reduces serotonin levels and low levels are linked to increased anxiety.
You can become reliant on alcohol
When continuously drinking, the body will gradually adjust. As a result, I will become less effective in making people feel relaxed thus they will need to drink more. In the long term, this can create a very unhealthy relationship with alcohol where people start depending on it.
Short-term memory can be at risk
The morning after heavy drinking is often spent trying to recall what happened. Although this may be a fun moment with friends to compare embarrassing details that you might have forgotten, it can become a problem when drinking too often. People who are stressed or suffer from anxiety will suffer greatly when trying to recall what they can’t remember.
Furthermore, having poor short-term memory can negatively affect your life. It will be increasingly hard to function normally when simple details are forgotten, which can play havoc on everyday life.
Your sleep pattern will be disrupted
It has been well established that sleep is essential for overall health. Alcohol impairs sleep, making it difficult to function the next day. Continuing with little sleep over a long period of time will increase stress and anxiety whilst making you feel exhausted and irritable.
Additionally, the body repairs itself during sleep. When it is unable to do so, your physical health is also at risk.
There Are Better Ways to Get Relief
Instead of immediately turning to alcohol, people should consider why they are choosing to do so. While examining the cause of stress or mental suffering, people need to consider what better and ultimately healthier alternatives there are. The most effective would be telling someone about such problems and seeking professional help. Additionally, undertaking activities or hobbies in place of drinking can also help.