The effects of the over-consumption of alcohol on the body are well known. Binge drinking culture used to be quite rife in the UK leading to a lot of advertising about the dangers of drinking too much and its impact on your physical health. However, not much is as wildly known about the dangers of alcohol in-regards to mental health.
In fact, a lot of people believe that alcohol actually makes you happier and in some cases, that is right. However, the happiness or “buzz” you feel from drinking alcohol is going to be short-lived and in the long run drinking, too much can have a negative impact on your mental health.
Alcohol can release endorphins in the body which will make you feel happier and more relaxed. There is a reason many people have a drink to relax or unwind, in moderation, this isn’t too bad but moderation is the keyword there.
If you drink a lot you will soon find that you need to drink more and more each time to get that feel good “buzz” back. This is because alcohol will eventually dull parts of the brain meaning you need to drink more to get the same feeling back.
Even in moderation, the dangers of drinking to feel relaxed or to de-stress yourself is not a good habit to fall into. Alcohol will soon become a clutch that many people will find even more difficult to manage without. It will actually go on to exasperate issues rather than help with them.
This is a difficult balancing act because not everyone will realise they are using alcohol in this way. Having the odd drink to relax at the end of a hard day is fine, but if you find yourself needing to do it every day then it becomes a problem and it will impact your mental health.
Ironically many people use alcohol to deal with problems like anxiety and stress but if you rely on it too much it can actually cause these issues to become much worse. Drinking alcohol can quickly become a coping mechanism and that is a pit that is hard to get out of.
Many people who become alcoholics are using alcohol to help them cope with their emotions. They might think they need alcohol to help them stay happy or to regulate their moods or to deal with other issues they are struggling with.
But using alcohol in this way is dangerous to your mental health and will have far-reaching effects. And even when you know you have a problem with alcohol doing something about it isn’t going to be easy. In fact, it will likely make most people feel more anxious, unhappy and stressed.
The negative effects the over-consumption of alcohol can have on your physical wellbeing will only make the effects on your mental health worse as well. So, to summarise alcohol can have a big impact on your mental health and relying on it to deal with stress or anxiety is incredibly dangerous.
How To Fight Back
If you are using alcohol to deal with issues like anxiety or stress or fear that your alcohol consumption is negatively affecting your mental health then you have already made the first step by identifying a problem. The next phase is fighting back and getting your life back on track.
Mental health problems can be very difficult to combat and whether you are using alcohol to manage pre-existing conditions or alcohol is causing yours the end result will often be the same. But of course, the answer isn’t as easy as putting down the wine or not getting a beer, is it?
The cold-turkey approach will rarely work instead you should contact your local GP and be honest and open with them about your drinking habits and mental health issues. They will be able to put you in contact with local mental health teams, support groups and charities who will be able to help.
Another good tip is to eat healthily, exercise regularly and get into a good sleeping pattern. This will help you avoid using alcohol to cope with issues like stress by actively getting your mind and body in a healthier place. Don’t try to combat your problems alone either talk to your friends and family it can be hard to do but it will help.
You can also speak to counsellors or join local support groups as well. If you have another issue like financial problems or work-related issues that are causing you to turn to drink try to focus on getting those problems fixed as well.
I know it is hard and often not as simple as it sounds but by focusing on solving your problems you can put a stop to using alcohol as a coping mechanism. Below, I’ve listed some helplines and support numbers you can use as well. I would also recommend using the NHS’s Alcohol Addiction local services search page to find local organisations/ groups that can help.
Drinkline – Free Helpline: 0300 123 1110
Alcoholics Anonymous – Free Helpline: 0800 917 7650
Samaritans – 116123
FRANK – 0300 123 6600
Alcohol Focus Scotland – 0141 572 6700
Dan 24/7 Wales – 0808 808 2234