If you pine for a cold one, a decantered one, or one on the rocks after a busy day at the office, you’re not alone. Modern professionals have increasing pressures, a shortage of time to properly de-stress and are bombarded with messaging that having a drink is the most appropriate way to wind down, take the stress off and relax. But is having a drink really the best way to reduce stress?
The Correlation of Stress and Alcohol Consumption
Research has shown that both men and women who consume more alcohol also report higher levels of stress, and that these increases are correlated. Most people have adopted drinking as a relaxation technique and having a drink or two with the false notion that doing so will help to calm down and relieve the stress of the day. This doesn’t work, though. Drinking to reduce stress is almost always a tactic to avoid the real cause of the stress, which will still be there tomorrow.
The Real Effect of Alcohol
When you add alcohol to stress, you may be overturning a brain switch which makes heavy drinking more likely. It also increases the likelihood of drinking again the next day, whether you are stressed or not. Alcohol is a depressant that continues to further reduce your ability to deal with stress and anxiety. It also alters the chemistry of the brain and increases the risk of depression. Using alcohol when you are stressed only exacerbates the stress levels. Excessive alcohol consumption can also cause serious damage to one’s health. This is especially true for women over 60.
Identifying Your Triggers So You’re Less Compelled to Drink
The best way to deal with stress is to identify the root cause of it and deal with that. Drinking to make yourself feel better will almost never solve the actual issue that’s causing your stress. Identify what gets to you the most, then recognize what you can and can’t control. Most stressors are often within your ability to control and recognizing this can help you make positive changes in your life.
It’s OK to Ask for Help
Struggling with substance use disorder, with mental health or with trauma is not a moral failing. We all struggle at times and we all need help sometimes. If you’re ready for a recovery wingman, we’re here to help. Call us now and talk to one of our substance use treatment specialists for an obligation free confidential chat today.