The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains “ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, is an intoxicating ingredient found in beer, wine, and liquor. Alcohol is produced by the fermentation of yeast, sugars, and starches.” Alcohol is a psychoactive, central nervous system depressant. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism explains that “alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, and can affect the way the brain looks and works” by slowing down vital functions in one’s body. When an individual drinks alcohol, it enters his or her bloodstream immediately and reaches the brain within five minutes of consumption. Many young people drink alcohol hoping it will induce relaxation, but it can have the opposite effect and exacerbate anxiety.
The medical definition of anxiety provided in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is “an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.” Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress. Some people will experience bouts of anxiety accompanied by severe and/ or prolonged symptoms, while others may experience mild, and/ or fleeting symptoms of anxiety. Though drinking alcohol can make a person feel less inhibited, and some may say more relaxed, these effects wear off quickly.
Drinking alcohol can make anxiety worse. For example, alcohol reduces the amount of serotonin (the neurotransmitter that works to stabilize one’s mood, happiness, and feelings of well-being) in the brain, and low levels of serotonin are associated with increased anxiety. While drinking alcohol can result in fleeting feelings of relaxation, it is not uncommon for an individual to experience increased feelings of anxiety after the initial effects of alcohol wear off. A 2014 University of Missouri-Columbia study found that drinking alcohol as a method of getting to sleep disrupts the body’s sleep homeostasis, or sleep regulator, and adversely affects one’s natural sleep cycles. The disruption in sleep patterns caused by alcohol can affect one’s energy levels, mood, and increase one’s susceptibility to anxiety.
For Information and Support
Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.
Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
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