Alcohol and Anxiety Relief: The New Unspoken Connection (How to Stop Anxiety After Drinking Alcohol)

What is the connection between alcohol and anxiety relief? Studies show that an alarming number of people suffer from anxiety. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health reports that 19 million adults have an anxiety disorder in any given year.

Even more concerning is that these numbers are on the rise—especially among young people. For example, between 2014 and 2018, there was a 20 percent increase in emergency room visits due to alcohol-induced panic attacks or other stress-induced symptoms. You can imagine the increase during the Covid-19 pandemic that made reduced movement and increased anxiety.

What’s even more baffling is the fact that many people with anxiety know it triggers their symptoms but continues to drink alcohol to make themselves feel better.

Why is this? And how can you reduce or eliminate anxiety by eliminating alcohol from your life? To understand why so many people with anxiety continue to drink alcohol despite its negative effects, we must first understand what exactly anxiety is and how it manifests itself in our bodies.

Alcohol and Anxiety Relief

Some people with anxiety disorders have found that drinking alcohol can reduce their anxiety. This is especially true when the anxiety is related to social situations, performance anxiety, or being in a new environment.

When advised by a doctor on the amount of alcohol to take and when to take it, alcohol can offer some anxiety relief temporarily. However, the challenge is if you become dependent on alcohol to face the anxious situations listed above.

However, this is definitely not the case for everyone.

In fact, people with anxiety disorders should be very cautious when drinking alcohol, as it can worsen their symptoms. It’s important to note that while alcohol can temporarily make you less anxious, it can also cause you to become more anxious later on.

How Alcohol Can Trigger Anxiety Attacks

Alcohol temporarily change the levels of certain neurotransmitters in your brain. These neurotransmitters include serotonin, GABA, and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters have a role in regulating anxiety.

When you drink alcohol, it can temporarily increase serotonin. This can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety. But as the alcohol wears off, serotonin levels will drop below normal and you’ll likely experience a resurgence of anxiety.

The same thing can happen with GABA and norepinephrine. This is because alcohol temporarily alters your brain chemistry. When you’re not drinking, these levels will return to normal, but they might not drop back down to where they need to be for optimal anxiety management.

What is the connection between alcohol and anxiety?

If you have an anxiety disorder and you drink alcohol, you may feel less anxious in the moment. Thus the relationship between alcohol and anxiety relief is a common question by several people. However, the alcohol will likely wear off and you may become even more anxious.

Alcohol-induced anxiety can last for several hours. This can be in the form of hangover anxiety or even increase in the other forms of anxiety such as panic attacks.

I have seen patients who are very shy. They result to alcohol to give them a voice. However, the challenge is that they become purely dependent on alcohol to get a voice. Therefore, instead of curing the problem, it becomes more of a bigger problem.

How Alcohol Affects Your Anxiety Medication

Remember, alcohol is a drug that has an effect on your entire body, including your brain and the anxiety medication that you’re taking. In some cases, alcohol can make anxiety medications less effective or cause you to experience adverse side effects.

Therefore, since both alcohol and anxiety medications affect neurotransmitters in the brain, taking alcohol when on anxiety medication can increase serotonin in the brain for example leading to extreme sleepiness, drowsiness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and slowed breathing among others. This can either cause more anxiety or lead to serious or even fatal effects.

The serious effects of this are accidents when driving or operating machinery. These accidents can even lead to death. The other challenge is developing serotonin syndrome which can have serious adverse effects.

In some cases, alcohol can make anxiety medications less effective or cause you to experience adverse side effects. Alcohol can increase the amount of the medication in your blood, which could result in increased side effects, such as extreme sleepiness, difficulty concentrating and slowed breathing.

Therefore, you should take alcohol when on anxiety medication if and only if you have discussed it with your doctor. The doctor can advise on the pints you can take if you have to.

Can you drink alcohol on anxiety medication?

Alcohol affects the neurotransmitters in the brain and so does anxiety medication. Combining the two can accentuate the consequences leading to serious or even fatal effects. These alcohol and anxiety medication effects can include accidental injuries due to drowsiness, extreme sleepiness, slowed breathing, and difficulty concentrating.

Remember, alcohol is a drug that has an effect on your entire body, including your brain. It can temporarily change the levels of certain neurotransmitters in your brain, such as serotonin, GABA, and norepinephrine. Anxiety medication also affects different neurotransmitters.

These neurotransmitters have a role in regulating anxiety. When you drink alcohol, it can temporarily increase serotonin. This can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety. But as the alcohol wears off, serotonin levels will drop below normal and you’ll likely experience a resurgence of anxiety. Buspirone, SSRI, and SNRI also affect serotonin, and thus taking both medication and alcohol can affect the available serotonin in the brain.

The same thing can happen with GABA and norepinephrine where both alcohol and some anxiety medications affect them. Medications such as gabapentin, beta-blockers, and benzodiazepines affect the same neurotransmitters.

This is because alcohol temporarily alters your brain chemistry. When you’re not drinking, these levels will return to normal, but they might not drop back down to where they need to be for optimal anxiety management.

How does alcohol cause anxiety?

Remember, alcohol is a drug that has an effect on your entire body, including your brain. Excessive drinking over time can lead to blackouts, loss of memory, and even brain damage.

This can cause not only more anxiety but also a heightened sense of anxiety because you’re not able to process and regulate your fear responses as you normally would.

In addition, excessive drinking can change the availability of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of well-being, relaxation, and happiness.

Strategies for Coping with Alcohol and Anxiety: How to stop anxiety after drinking alcohol

If you’re experiencing anxiety as a result of heavy alcohol consumption, the best thing you can do is to stop drinking. The more alcohol you drink, the more anxious you will likely become.

While this might seem like common sense, it’s not always easy to follow through with. You may need an intervention to help you stop or limit your drinking. If you’re experiencing anxiety as a result of heavy alcohol consumption, the best thing you can do is to stop drinking.

The more alcohol you drink, the more anxious you will likely become. While this might seem like common sense, it’s not always easy to follow through with. You may need an intervention to help you stop or limit your drinking.

To cope with alcohol hangover Anxiety by using the following tips:

  1. Rehydrate: One of the main reasons people get a hangover is because their bodies eliminated too much water as it tries to reduce the alcohol content in the body. Therefore, it is important to rehydrate and do it regularly. Taking lots of water reduces the effects of alcohol on the body.
  2. Eat light meals: You should also ensure that you take light meals when you are dealing with hangover anxiety. Most of the time, during hangover anxiety, we don’t feel like taking anything but we need to eat in order to recover faster. This is because your body requires the energy to deal with the alcohol choke. You can try light meals which are mild. This is especially true if you are having nausea. In this case, you can do broth, soda crackers, bananas, or dry toast.
  3. Try over-the-counter pain relief: Getting an NSAID or other pain relief medication can help you deal with anxiety. Most of the time, hangover anxiety comes with a headache and other body aches. It is important to deal with these aches by taking a pain reliever.
  4. Get some sleep: After doing the three actions above, it is also important to get some sleep. Sleep helps the body rejuvenate from the alcohol shock and thus manages anxiety. It is therefore important to relax while having hangover anxiety.
  5. Try some relaxing music: Most of the time, during hangover anxiety, the body feels lifeless. It is important to relax and one of the best ways to manage that is to listen to relaxing music in the background as you sleep. This helps relax the body and brain.

Anxiety after drinking how long does it last

Anxiety after drinking can last for as long as several hours or even a full day after drinking. The alcohol-induced anxiety presents several effects on the brain and other body systems.

The alcohol-induced anxiety has been seen to last for 14 to 16 hours after withdrawals, which occurs after the initial hangover symptoms. It can lead to a debilitating state of life and markedly reduce the quality of life.

Thus, the use of alcohol to cope with a social anxiety disorder or any other anxiety disorder is very dangerous. It can cause dependence and also accentuate anxiety since alcohol will definitely wear out. Moreover, drinking alcohol to cope with anxiety can lead to excessive inebriation which can cause brain damage, blackouts, liver problems, kidney problems, and other effects.

If you are worried about this anxiety, you are not alone, people with alcohol-induced anxiety constitute up to 7 percent of Americans according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).

3 Strategies to Manage the Link Between Alcohol and Anxiety

Anxiety is a normal human emotion that everyone experiences at some point in their lives. It’s a response to situations that make us feel uncomfortable, under pressure, or out of control.

Generally, anxiety can be helpful. It can make us more alert, allow us to better deal with challenging situations, and help us to achieve our goals. However, anxiety can become a problem when it occurs too often, lasts too long, or is too intense. It can become debilitating, interfering with your ability to function.

You can manage the link between alcohol and anxiety by either:

  1. Talking to your doctor: Your doctor can help you manage your anxiety and alcohol dependence. It has become quite common these days. However, the doctor can recommend management solutions for you. The doctor can recommend medication or psychotherapy to manage your anxiety.
  2. Lifestyle changes: If you have anxiety, you can change your lifestyle to ensure that you do not depend on alcohol for anxiety management. These changes can be exercise, breathing exercises, meditation, mindfulness, eating healthy meals, taking lots of water, and reduced substance abuse among others.
  3. Gradual reduction of alcohol intake: People with anxiety may find it hard to stop taking it cold turkey. However, if you take alcohol to help you manage anxiety, you can gradually reduce the intake to ensure you do not experience the side effects.

Alcohol is the only thing that helps my anxiety- using alcohol to cope with anxiety

We have heard this statement one time too common in our clinic and among our friends. There are people who have either social anxiety or another anxiety disorder that can not function properly without being inebriated.

Alcohol in situations of social anxiety and other anxiety disorders can take away shyness, paranoia, depression, and nervousness. Moreover, it can give you the freedom and courage to face the anxiety-inducting condition.

If you are using alcohol to cope with anxiety, you should note that this is just a temporary solution. Yes, alcohol can temporarily help in reducing fears and worries in addition to enabling you to take your mind off the troubles since it depresses the central nervous system (CNS). However, in the long run, you need to tackle the anxiety head-on.

Moreover, alcohol can accentuate anxiety either when the effects of alcohol wear off, creating a dependency, or even potential side effects of long-term and excessive usage of alcohol. The side effects may include liver and kidney problems, blackouts, loss of memory, and even brain damage.

Some of these effects can even cause more anxiety as you tackle the symptoms and effects. You can imagine getting hangover and its effect on the body. Moreover, brain damage can cause increased incidences of anxiety disorders.

Conclusion

Thinking about drinking? If you’re prone to anxiety, you might want to think again. Alcohol and anxiety are two things that can go hand in hand. The effects of alcohol on anxiety are more than just a bit unsettling; they’re also dangerous.

While some people find inebriation a useful way of dealing with their fears, for others it can be a red flag that triggers an attack. Moreover, taking alcohol to mask anxiety can lead to an increase in anxiety as the alcohol wears off.

Therefore, you should only take alcohol with the approval of your doctor if you have anxiety. This is because the doctor can know the amount and time that you can take alcohol without affecting your day-to-day performance.