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Anxiety and Alcohol: Which Comes First?

Many people with anxiety struggle with alcohol addiction and many people who struggle with alcohol addiction also experience anxiety. Does one cause the other? When discussing the connection between anxiety and alcohol, one has to consider treatment options for both conditions. For many people, this treatment is vital for long-term recovery. If you think that you need help to overcome anxiety and alcohol addiction, Atlantic Recovery Center is here to help. Contact us today by calling 1-866-824-5193 to learn about the treatment options available at our treatment center.

How Anxiety Can Increase the Desire to Use Alcohol

Anxiety is an uncomfortable feeling, and it’s not uncommon for people to have a desire to “numb” it out with substances like drugs and alcohol. Anxiety and alcohol are a dangerous mix, though, and an addict can quickly end up in a perpetual cycle of severe anxiety and alcohol abuse.

When consumed in moderation, alcohol can help the body and mind feel more relaxed temporarily. While this side effect is considered pleasant and one of the many reasons people choose to drink alcohol, it can be deceiving. Alcohol is not an adequate anxiety treatment and can complicate matters if you use alcoholic beverages to quell anxious emotions.

Unfortunately, many alcoholics start out using alcohol occasionally to reduce social anxiety or to unwind at the end of a stressful day. Soon, they become unable to manage anxiety on their own without a drink, and eventually, they may need a drink just to get up and get going in the morning.

How Alcohol Can Increase Anxiety

Although experiencing anxiety can cause a recovering addict to desire alcohol, the substance itself can actually lend a hand in making you feel anxious, afraid, and on-edge. Alcohol can increase anxiety by:

  • Raising blood pressure: Consuming alcohol causes blood pressure to rise, which can create feelings of urgency and panic.
  • Changing the levels of serotonin in the brain: Serotonin, or the “happy chemical,” helps regulate anxious emotions. A boost of serotonin occurs shortly after drinking, which leads to a temporary decrease in anxiety. However, the next day, your serotonin levels will crash, creating even more anxiety than you started with at the beginning.
  • Making you feel unwell: Drinking too much can lead to dizziness, heart palpitations, nausea, vomiting, vision changes, and memory loss. Feeling ill, even when you know the cause, can trigger anxiety.

How to Reduce Anxiety Without Alcohol

There are many ways to reduce anxious feelings without using alcohol, including:

  • Meditation: Mindfulness is an effective way to experience anxiety while allowing yourself to separate yourself from the emotions and allow them to exist outside of yourself.
  • Deep breathing: Deep breathing goes along with meditation, but you can do deep breathing exercises without meditating. Breathing deeply for several breaths helps engage the parasympathetic nervous system, which reduces the fight or flight response.
  • Grounding: Take time to focus on things you can hear, see, touch, smell, and taste. Take a shower, drink a cup of tea, or go outside to “jolt” your senses back to reality.
  • Medications and therapy: If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, your doctor can help you find a combination of medicines and/or treatment therapy that helps bring your anxiety down to a more manageable level.

Are You or a Loved One Suffering from Alcohol Addiction?

If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction to alcohol, help is available. Our team of caring, compassionate clinicians, therapists, nurses, and staff members are here to support you and your family along your journey to recovery. We offer a range of treatment options, including:

Contact us today at 1-866-824-5193 to learn more about our drug and alcohol treatment programs.