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The Relationship Between Alcohol and Stress

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After a long day, there is nothing more relaxing than having a few drinks to help you unwind, right? But did you know that drinking can make you feel more stressed? 

Many people talk about having a drink to take the edge off when they are feeling stressed, but studies have shown that alcohol has the opposite effect. Alcohol increases the stress response by stimulating the production of the same hormones produced by the body when under stress. 

If you have not had an issue with addiction, then it is okay to have a few drinks now and then. But problems may arise if you make drinking alcohol a part of your routine. Regular drinking can lead to psychological dependence on alcohol. 

The Slippery Slope Between Alcohol and Stress

"If you're looking forward to a drink to relieve your stress on a regular basis, that is a warning sign," says Kenneth Sher, director of the University of Missouri's Alcohol, Health, and Behavior Project. "There's a very strong relationship between having thoughts like, 'Alcohol helps me relax' and 'Having a few drinks makes my troubles go away' and alcohol dependency problems." 

Once you have developed a psychological dependence on alcohol, then a physical dependence can develop. Your body can develop alcohol tolerance, which will make you feel the need to consume more and more to get the same effect. Tolerance leads to addiction and what could become the beginning of a life-long struggle with sobriety and abstinence.

Take an Alcohol Inventory

Ask yourself, is it time to evaluate your current situation? Have you developed any questionable stress-related drinking habits? Be honest with yourself. If your answer is yes, it may be time to find healthier ways to de-stress and relax.

Healthy Ways to Reduce Stress Without Alcohol

Instead of having a few drinks when you feel stressed, try these 9 de-stressors:

  1. Exercise
  2. Visit friends
  3. Try yoga or meditation
  4. Read a book
  5. Take up that hobby you've been putting off
  6. Take a closer look at your life to see if you can remove, or at least limit, your stressors
  7. Reduce work hours
  8. Take a vacation
  9. Take a time-out from family drama

If you try any of these de-stressing alternatives but find that you are having difficulty reducing your alcohol consumption, it may be a sign that you have an alcohol problem.

At Aquila, we are always happy to chat about how we can help. We realize that everyone's situation is different. Our compassionate team of professionals can create an individualized treatment plan for you. Contact us today to get started on your recovery journey. 

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