26 Sep Stress and Alcohol Dependence – A Vicious Cycle?
Stress and drinking are a toxic combination that has somehow gained social acceptance. People who claim to experience high levels of stress admit that they drink more frequently than others. The same is true of people with anxiety and depression.
Does Stress cause Alcoholism?
While people have different reasons for drinking – from celebrating to dealing with pressures. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines stress as ‘subjective feeling of pressure or tension’. This is often accompanied by heightened feelings of anxiety, anger, fear, excitement, or sadness.
People who drink regularly to cope with stress initially report temporary comfort but using alcohol as a coping mechanism can lead to catastrophic consequences. For example, those who drink to cope with pressure or stress are more likely to develop a substance abuse disorder.
Drinking Alcohol Increase Stress Levels
The fact is, rather than helping you cope with stress, drinking can actually increase stress levels. Alcohol abuse would negatively impact your work or school performance, personal relationships and finances, all of which would intensify your stress.
Alcohol also stresses the body and the mind. As the body gets rid of the alcohol from the night before, blood sugar levels may fall, adding symptoms of anxiety to the existing stress.
Alcohol leads to an increased level of cortisol, a hormone the body was naturally generating as a response to stressful events. High levels of cortisol can cause inflammation, blood sugar spikes and high blood pressure. Persistent cortisol in your body can damage your central nervous system and other organs.
So, the alcohol that you have been drinking to cope with stress is actually adding to your stress levels. Seek professional help if you experience withdrawal when you try to stop drinking. A reputed alcohol and drug rehab center can help you learn ways to cope with stress in a healthy way without any dependence on alcohol or any other substance.