Does Alcohol Provide Stress Relief?

does alcohol relieve stress

You have had a hard day at work come home the house is a mess, the baby is crying and your wife looks frazzled. You give her an empathetic hug, tell her you understand and head for the liquor cabinet rather than kicking the dog. It’s already been a rough day. Theoretically, you need that drink to relax, to help eliminate the stress. But is that really what that drink is doing?

Alcohol Tricks Your Senses

What is wrong with this picture? The truth is that alcohol is numbing your senses, tricking them into believing you are no longer stressed when the truth is the stress is still there. It is just hiding under the illusion that alcohol is in fact eliminating whatever the real stress factors are. While under the influence of alcohol we can often make our stress worse leading to depression or violent episodes of aggression which is the exact opposite of what we are trying to accomplish. We can easily become dependent on alcohol as our legal means of controlling our mood and this in turn can lead to addiction.

Are We A Social Drinker or Problem Drinker?

Imbibing in alcohol to try and reduce stress is nothing new, in fact it has been used for centuries. Not only have stressful situations encouraged drinking but it has also been considered a way of relieving stress. We often hear the phrase, “I need a drink just to calm my nerves.” The media and entertainment industry constantly portray alcohol as a way to relieve stress. There is always the question we ask ourselves, are we a social drinker or a problem drinker? Do we drink for the pleasure of the taste and the social environment, or do we feel we need to have a drink to take off the edge? Do we just drink on weekends or every day after work? Do we think we are not an alcoholic because we just drink wine or beer or on weekends only?

Research Shows We Drink In Spite Of Health Warnings

You can rest assured there have been many studies over the years trying to determine the correlation between stress and alcohol. Researchers have determined that alcohol’s anticipated positive effect is a primary reason many of us consume alcohol despite the risk of contracting many of the health issues associated with alcoholism. In one German study it was discovered after following a group of 300 children from their early teens to young adulthood that “the earlier people begin drinking the greater their chances of using alcohol as a coping technique to deal with stress.”

They went on to confirm that the impact of stressful life events on someone’s drinking pattern depends on the age they took their first drink. The earlier kids start using alcohol the stronger the association between stress and alcohol. Researchers discovered when people drink they usually behave in one of two ways:

  1. They become energized, talkative and uninhibited.
  2. They become docile, sleepy and inattentive.

The bottom line is that alcoholism is becoming an ever growing problem with more people trying to use it for relaxation and stress relief. Does it work? Perhaps for some, but for others the jury is still out.

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