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“Drink a little, it’ll take the edge off.” We’ve all heard, been told, or said something very similar to this at some point. Drinking alcohol has long been associated with coping with the stresses of life, but how accurate is this “common knowledge”? Consider these 5 facts about drinking and stress before you take that next sip.

5 Truths About Stress Drinking

While alcohol is a depressant, (it slows down the processes of your brain and central nervous system), it doesn’t necessarily always help with stress. That first drink begins to alter the chemical balance in your brain which does produce that popular calming effect. However, excessive use can actually have the opposite effect. Heavy alcohol use can be detrimental to your health and quality of life in many ways. Consider the facts:

Heavy drinking

  1. has been linked to mental health problems. Consistent and prolonged alterations to your brain chemistry can interfere with the neurotransmitters in your brain. This hinders the exchange of messages in your central nervous system and can contribute to depression and anxiety.
  2. can actually make it harder to handle stress. The feelings of depression and anxiety can, in turn, make it harder for you to handle the stress in your life. Instead of calming you, it will effectively make it worse.
  3. can keep you from having a good night’s sleep. A single, small drink may help you fall asleep more easily. However, any more than that can seriously interfere with your ability to sleep well. You may wake up the next morning feeling tired and irritable.
  4. can cause weight gain and spider veins. Alcoholic beverages contain a good number of calories on their own and alcohol is an appetite stimulant while suppressing the area of the brain associated with self-control. It also opens blood vessels in your face causing a reddish complexion and spider veins.
  5. can disrupt sex hormones in men and women and affect libido. This means a reduction in fertility for women and reduced testosterone for men.

What to Do Instead

Instead of relying on foreign substances to help you relax, learn better ways to deal with stress. Find someone to talk to, listen to music, or start a new hobby. If you struggle to do this on your own, consider individual counseling with a trained professional. They can help you set goals, manage relapse, and keep you accountable.

So, is stress drinking really all that bad? It can be. The good news is there are people who care and want to help you learn how to handle stress and maintain a better, addiction-free, lifestyle. Sober Houston partners with organizations who provide drug and alcohol education, counseling services, rehab and sober living facilities. Contact Us for more information or help with learning to handle stress for you or a loved one.