According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, more than 40 million Americans over the age of 18 are affected by the number one mental illness today, anxiety. This number is quite overwhelming but many blame alcohol for a worsening anxiety. Although many people are affected each year with anxiety, it does not mean they will necessarily develop an alcohol problem, unless they are using stress and anxiety as a reason to choose to drink to excess.
A common reaction to anxiety is to have a drink as the belief is that alcohol will calms nerves. A surprising fact is that, to a large degree, the emotional effects we experience from drinking alcohol are based on our expectations. That is, we tend to experience what we expect to experience. If we expect alcohol to reduce our anxiety, it probably will albeit temporarily; if we don't expect alcohol to reduce our anxiety, it probably won't. Many people who drink after a stressful day and indeed make that correlation believe their anxiety causes alcohol problems.
The substance of alcohol itself is not significant for this effect to occur. In other words, what people experience can actually be classified as the placebo effect. For example, research has demonstrated that men who falsely believed that they had been drinking alcohol became less anxious in social situations and more relaxed. On the other hand, women who falsely believed that they had been consuming alcohol became more anxious in social situations.
Similarly, if we think that alcohol will make us sleepy, it will tend to do so. If we think it will make us sexually aroused, it will tend to do so. The same is true of anger, affection and other emotions or feelings. So if we believe that alcohol will reduce our anxiety, it probably will. Therefore, we will associate drinking with relief from anxiety. This in turn can make drinking more desirable and drinking more alcohol even more attractive.
Does this mean that anxiety causes an alcohol problem? No, it means that our belief in the anxiety-reducing effects of alcohol can encourage us to drink too much. However, the alcohol itself isn't causing or forcing us to drink too much. Doing so is a result of our own free choice to drink more or less.
If we want to drink too much, we can use our anxiety as a reason or excuse to do so. Of course, if we want to drink excessively we can always find reasons to explain or justify our actions such as; my partner doesn't understand me, I'm having trouble at work, I was abused as a child, I'm grieving over the death of a loved one, I'm experiencing a mid-life crisis, and so on. While all of the above reasons can cause anxiety, they can also be an excuse to drink more, or become drunk on a regular basis.
We might use anxiety as an excuse to drink too much but it cannot cause us to drink too much. That's all the difference in the world. If you feel like you are out of control with your drinking, know that you can regain it. What the St Jude Program does is help you overcome your alcohol problems, by taking control of your life.In a case where someone has anxiety there are plenty of alternatives to stress relief that do not include alcohol.
At our program you will delve into all of the excuses you have made in the past to over drink and realize those were choices you made. In order to regain control and you must take responsibility for those choices and thus the consequences of your actions and past behaviors. No matter what you have done in the past, or where you are in your life right now, the caring professionals at Saint Jude's can help you through our individualized programs, so you can start your new life today.
Call today if St Jude's can make a difference in your life or a loved one's. 1-888-424-2626.