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How Anxiety Can Cause Alcoholism

When the pressures of life become unmanageable and anxiety sets in, a person becomes susceptible to a variety of psychological problems. A certain amount of stress is unavoidable in life, but there are healthy and unhealthy responses to that stress. Anxiety can range from a mild but pervasive feeling of nervousness or worry to debilitating panic or terror. If left unchecked anxiety disorders can become life-threatening. It is not uncommon for someone dealing with pervasive anxiety to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.

The Connection between Anxiety and Alcoholism

The euphoria brought on by excessive alcohol consumption (defined as more than two drinks per day for men or one for women) directly impacts the part of the brain that manages anxiety, emotions, impulse control and other psychological functions. This area, called the reward center, will experience a short-term relief of the feelings of anxiety when alcohol is present. The brain will crave this relief as soon as it passes and will use every psychological tool at its disposal to get it including the following:

  • Obsession
  • Emotional cravings
  • Justification for use of alcohol
  • Denial that there is a problem
  • Selective memory that supports the behavior
  • Fear of quitting

These psychological influences operate on a deeper and more powerful level than rational thought or will. Even a person who understands he or she may have a problem may be unable to resist cravings for alcohol. Some depressed or anxious individuals may not drink heavily or to the point of complete intoxication, but this does not mean alcohol addiction cannot happen.

How to Break Free from Anxiety and Alcoholism

One reason many addicts are unsuccessful in attempting to get clean is that the underlying psychological disorder that caused their addiction is never identified and treated. Serious anxiety disorders are not treated by alcohol use, even if alcohol does mask symptoms temporarily. The key to lasting recovery from anxiety disorders and addiction is treatment that approaches all aspects of a person’s mental and physical health. This approach carefully identifies and treats the anxiety disorder alongside the addiction. The most effective rehab facilities use this approach to great effect. Through various types of counseling, exercises, education and spiritual care these programs can be successful in establishing balance in the patient’s mind and body.

Find the Help You Need for Anxiety and Alcoholism Today

If you are wrestling with anxiety or addiction issues, call our toll-free helpline. We are here 24 hours a day, so the time to get healthy is now. Life is too short to waste on anxiety or addiction, and high quality treatment is available. We can connect you with the best treatment program for your specific needs. Find peace and sobriety. Call today.