Healthy Alternatives to Using Alcohol to Mask Anxiety
Turning to alcohol to manage anxiety is a far too common theme for millions of Americans. Anxiety disorders impact more than 40 million Americans and are the most prevalent mental illness in the United States. Yet, only about 37% of people receive treatment for anxiety, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
With easy accessibility and social acceptance of its use, alcohol is a common way people attempt to mask their anxious feelings. Unfortunately, alcohol only temporarily blocks feelings of anxiety, but many people develop alcoholism habits to compensate, which can quickly lead to addiction.
How People Use Alcohol to Hide Their Anxiety
Having anxiety can be crippling and leave many people feeling hopeless. These feelings are unpleasant, so understandably, people will do what they can to avoid them. Often, drinking alcohol allows the person to numb those feelings and escape negative thoughts that may be tormenting them. So, how does alcohol help people hide their anxiety?
It inhibits inhibitions
You’ve heard the expression, “A drunk mind speaks a sober heart.” There is truth to this because drinking often allows us to verbalize our real thoughts and feelings without the fear of repercussion, which can be hard to do if you are struggling with anxiety.
It can give your confidence a boost
Escaping the constant worry and self-doubt that accompanies anxiety can feel good and can arguably make the person feel more confident. Feeling confident in yourself can be difficult for someone who is always anxious. So once someone realizes that alcohol can help them feel emotionally stronger, it may be difficult for them to stop using it.
It increases socialization
With increased confidence, it is often easier for people to socialize. When you feel good about yourself, you are more likely to engage with others. Instead of worrying about what others are thinking about you, your attention remains in the present moment.
Healthy Alcohol-Free Ways to Manage Anxiety
While alcohol can successfully help you cope with your anxiety, it should not be used as a long-term management plan. Using alcohol to cope merely masks the emotions. It does not address the root cause of the issues you are experiencing. Your physical and mental health needs to find alternative ways to manage your anxiety. Here are some tips to help you with your stress:
- Find a therapist you like – There is not a person in the world who wouldn’t benefit from seeing a therapist. Everyone can benefit from working through trauma, having a safe space to work through their feelings, or learning effective coping skills. These are all things a therapist can help you accomplish.
- Take medication – Another benefit of seeing a therapist is that they can work with you to find medications to treat your anxiety. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can decrease your symptoms and allow you to live a life free from your anxious thoughts. Your doctor will work with you to trial medications and monitor for side effects to ensure the medicine you’re on is the right fit for you.
- Practice mindfulness meditation – Mindfulness allows you to be in the present moment instead of focusing on unpleasant feelings. There is a wealth of free meditation videos on the internet that can help you become proficient at mindfulness.
- Find support – Talking about our struggles with like-minded people can be incredibly therapeutic. There are countless support groups, Facebook pages, or forums that support those struggling with anxiety. Knowing that you are not alone and being able to vent to people who understand what you’re going through can feel validating and is essential in your healing process.