One of the most common rationalizations for alcohol addiction is relaxation, with nearly one in three alcoholics stating they use alcohol to relax. However, the truth is that alcohol is not an effective stress reducer—working mainly to reduce the perception of stress instead of eliminating it. Due to the intricate interactions of alcohol with the body’s chemistry, stress responses become greatly affected by alcoholism—often raising our stress levels instead of lowering them.
To break this bad habit and regain control over your life today recognize which type you are (or if you have a co-occurring disorder) and seek Alcohol Rehabilitation Treatment from a qualified treatment center as soon as possible. This will enable you to address the root causes of your alcohol abuse and take back control of your life, one day at a time.
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol dependency, get help today. There are many resources available, including professional Alcohol Rehabilitation Treatment programs that can help you break the cycle of addiction and regain control of your life. Don’t wait—the sooner you seek help, the sooner you can start on the road to recovery.
Alcohol Dependency and Stress Responses
While alcohol does trigger euphoric feelings (felt as a “buzz” or “high”) in the brain’s reward centers, the body becomes physically depressed. In fact, when alcohol is working within your system, you may feel a sense of temporary relaxation at first.
The body’s stress response is activated in alcoholics as a result of alcohol’s negative effects on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis). This results in dysregulation of cortisol secretion, which can lead to many harmful consequences, including: cognitive deficits, anxiety, alcohol craving and relapse, and increased vulnerability to physical illnesses.
Alcohol dependency and stress responses are inextricably linked. When alcohol is working within your system, you may feel a sense of temporary relaxation at first. However, as alcohol consumption continues, the body becomes depressed and stressed responses become heightened. This can often lead to increased anxiety, irritability, and even
Physical Stress and Alcohol Dependency
However, the body is actually more stressed by the consumption of alcohol. Physical systems become taxed and strive desperately to achieve their original balance. The liver works overtime in order to rid the body of toxins, and the body copes with the aftermath of low hydration and nutrient depletion. In fact, the usual “hangover” signs such as raging headaches and tension in the hands and feet are due to constricted blood vessels. Likewise, blood pressure rises, as the circulatory system struggles harder to function properly.
The nervous system also becomes heavily stressed when alcohol dependency sets in. Additionally, alcohol spikes the body’s HPA output, creating higher production of stress hormones known as glucocorticoids. As a result, the brain experiences chemical reactions of stress-causing short tempers, anxiety attacks, jumpiness, and even premature aging.
Emotional Stress and Alcohol Dependency
Emotionally, alcohol leaves us just as frazzled. Sleep quality lowers and rest becomes interrupted when alcohol is consumed, potentially affecting our mental chemical balance, and heightening anxieties while lowering inhibitions. Alcohol also serves as an emotional anesthetic—leaving us in a poorer position to rise to challenges or resolve them at all. Furthermore, emotional perception becomes blurred, and inhibitions lower, leading to heated interpersonal exchanges. Alcohol can also intensify feelings of anger, paranoia, and even depression and suicidal thoughts—not only in the time of intoxication but also in between uses.
Alcohol abuse can cause a great deal of emotional stress for both the abuser and those around them. For the abuser, alcohol may become a crutch used to cope with difficult emotions or problems. This can lead to alcohol dependency, which in turn can cause even more stress. As the abuser’s alcohol use increases, their ability to function normally tends to decline. This can lead to conflicts with family and friends, job troubles, and other problems.
The stress caused by alcohol abuse can be very damaging to those around the abuser as well. Family members may feel overwhelmed and helpless as they watch their loved one spiral out of control. Friends may feel frustrated and angered by the abuser’s behavior.
Both the abuser and those around them can benefit from seeking help. There are many alcohol dependency programs available that can help the abuser overcome their addiction and learn to cope with stress in healthier ways. Family and friends can also attend counseling to learn how to best support the abuser during this difficult time.
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol abuse, please seek help. There is no shame in admitting that you need help and getting the support you need to get your life back on track.