Author: Anabel Feauto
Drink to celebrate? Drink when you feel blue? How about after work with your co-workers? Alcohol and mental health are closely connected. Alcohol can play a role in the development and progression of a mental health condition like depression or anxiety. It is not uncommon for people to have an addiction to alcohol and also a mental illness at the same time, referred to as a co-occurring disorder. According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 13.5 percent of young adults aged 18-25 had both a substance use disorder and any mental illness in the past year.
Understanding how the impact of alcohol can negatively affect mental health is essential.
Those who experience significant alcohol issues are more likely to experience depression and anxiety. Similarly, individuals who experience depression and anxiety are frequently more likely to have alcohol use issues. The relationship between a mental health challenge or condition and alcohol can be described as the following:
- Depression and alcohol
- If someone is experiencing depression, drinking may be a coping mechanism. This may have the short-term effect of making them feel better. However, becoming dependent on alcohol and using it as coping mechanism can lead to worsening symptoms of depression.
- Anxiety and alcohol
- Alcohol can have a short-lived feeling of relaxation. If someone is experiencing anxiety, they may use alcohol as a coping mechanism to relax and then continue to drink more to have that feeling of relaxation. This can create a dependency to alcohol. Alcohol may also make anxiety worse with hangovers.
- Suicide, self-harm, and alcohol
- Heavy drinking can lead to suicidal thoughts and attempts. Because it can make people act more impulsive and lose inhibitions, alcohol may lead to actions such as self-harm or suicide.
There are other ways that alcohol can make mental health issues worse.
- interrupt sleep
- increase fatigue
- cause difficulty concentrating
- may interfere with medication
- may increase risky behavior
If you are worried about how alcohol is impacting you or feel like it is affecting your mental health:
- Avoid situations where you may be tempted to drink. Think about other activities such as the movies or group classes in your community that don’t offer alcohol.
- Reach out to someone you trust such as a family member or a friend. It can be helpful to have encouragement or to have offer support in finding treatment.
- Check online for resources on how to manage issues with alcohol.
- Reach out to anonymous national hotlines.
- Get connected to treatment options near you.
Valeo’s Recovery Center is located at 330 SW Oakley Avenue, Topeka KS 66606. Valeo’s Recovery Center 24-Hour Detox Line is 785-234-3448.