Can Alcohol Lead to Anxiety?

Some mental health disorders, like anxiety, can lead sufferers to self-medicate with alcohol as they try to mitigate the high levels of worry and fear they feel daily. Many people mistakenly believe drinking will help them relax. However, if you are living with anxiety, you should be aware that the cycle of substance abuse could be making your mood worse.

The Link Between Alcohol and Anxiety

Alcohol is responsible for a myriad of physical, mental and emotional health problems, including anxiety. To understand this correlation, you should learn more about how alcohol reacts with your body and brain chemistry. These side effects can not only trigger anxiety, but also create an addictive response that is difficult to overcome.

For example, current research suggests that regular drinking causes the brain to release more cortisol, which is also known as the “stress hormone.” Cortisol is responsible for regulating your body’s normal fight-or-flight response to danger, but it is often overactive in people with anxiety, which can lead to elevated blood pressure, sleep disruptions and a near-constant level of dread. Alcohol use, therefore, directly associates with higher anxiety and stress, especially for those who consume it in excess. You can experience these effects not only while you are under the influence, but also while your body is withdrawing from alcohol use.

Understanding and Treating a Dual Diagnosis

Since alcohol use and high anxiety are often two sides of the same coin, and both disorders are such common psychiatric conditions, it should not come as a surprise to learn how frequently they intertwine.

Often, people who abuse alcohol never learned to get at the root of their anxiety through proven treatments such as therapy. Instead, they reached for alcohol as an unhealthy coping mechanism, gradually making their anxiety worse and getting themselves caught in a spiral of addiction.

This painful combination of anxiety and addiction is what the mental health community calls a dual diagnosis. Dual diagnoses, also known as co-occurring disorders, can be a challenging tangle to unravel because they require addressing both illnesses simultaneously to succeed. However, specialized treatment options are available that can help you get your life back and regain your mental and physical health, including the following.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Psychodrama
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing

Spearhead Lodge Is Here for You

You don’t have to suffer with the pain of co-occurring anxiety and alcohol addiction any longer. Treatment and a new start await you at Spearhead Lodge. Our team of qualified clinicians and addiction specialists offer customized treatment plans to help young men struggling with the vicious circle of substance misuse. At our Austin, Texas, facility, we provide proven single-gender treatment in an environment that gives our clients the best hope of learning to manage their addiction and anxiety and going on to make a full recovery. Contact us today to learn more about whether treatment is right for you.