The Link Between Stress & Alcohol

Link Between Stress And Alcohol

Being stressed is a normal part of life. Even a happy event like planning a wedding or planning to move to a new place can cause one to get stressed. However, if you notice you are stressed all the time to a point it is affecting your general wellbeing and affecting your ability to perform daily responsibilities, you should seek help. It is common to find people or self-medicating with alcohol and drugs to cope with stressful situations. Drinking alcohol only brings temporary relief and relaxation. In the short term, one will experience positive feelings, but when stressful events continue piling up, the drinking will become heavy, leading to medical and physiological problems.

The Effects Of Alcohol On Stress

The HPA system in the body works to maintain a subtle psychological balance, but if you add alcohol, you are putting the body at risk for harm. When you take alcohol, it causes the brain to release a chemical called cortisol in large amounts, which causes the body to reset to what it considers normal. Therefore, it alters the hormonal balance and changes how the body perceives and reacts to stress. Studies have shown that the chemical cortisol interferes with the brain’s pleasure or reward systems, contributing to how alcohol affects a person. This is why, with time, someone will keep increasing the amount of alcohol they are taking to achieve the same effects. Eventually, alcohol hinders the body from going back to balancing hormones and sets a new point for how one functions physiologically.

Causes Of Stress

The following things can cause stress.

General Life Stressors

General life stressors can be things like getting married or divorced, moving to a new place, or a career change. The loss of a loved one or family issues can also cause significant stress. Those are some of the things that cause people to drink.

Childhood Stress

Childhood abuse, whether physical, sexual, or emotional, can affect a person even after they have matured and are no longer experiencing the abuse. Childhood abuse increases the risk of alcohol consumption among teenagers and young adults.

Catastrophic Events

Studies show that there is an increase in alcohol consumption after a significant disaster, whether natural or man-made. Alcohol abuse disorders increase within a year after disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, or floods. Other studies have shown that disaster-induced alcohol consumption usually wanes within a year after a disaster.

Ethnic Minority Stress

One can get stressed due to their minority status. It can be something like being a victim of a crime or being overlooked for a job promotion. If one feels they are being overlooked or harassed due to their minority status, they might turn to cope with the stress they are experiencing.

Healthy Ways To Cope With Stress

When you are stressed, your body’s natural reaction is to get ready to fight whatever is causing stress or flee from it. However, it is essential that individuals read more on healthy coping mechanisms rather than resulting in alcohol to cope. Some of the ways you can cope with stress include:

  • Exercise: As often advised by all health practitioners, exercising is a great way to combat stress and pain. It triggers the release of endorphins that make you feel good. It also helps you feel confident and motivated.
  • Get Enough Sleep: You can combat stress by getting enough quality sleep. Most people suffering from chronic stress lack enough sleep because they are awake in bed thinking of what is stressing them. And even when you take alcohol to fall asleep quicker, the quality of sleep is awful.

Since stress is part of life, it is best to find healthy ways to cope. It is also crucial that you find support, whether it is through therapy or family and friends.

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