It can be tempting to use a bottle of beer or another drug when dealing with tension. But relying on substances for a long time will only increase your anxiety level. Alcohol and drugs cannot solve the root cause of a mental health issue. Even worse, they become less effective with time.
Did you know that potentially addictive drugs can lead to dual diagnosis? This is a situation in which you’re diagnosed with a mental illness and addiction. In essence, alcohol and drugs can aggravate the symptoms of mental disorders. Treating two conditions is more challenging. If you are struggling with anxiety, it’s time to learn better ways of managing it.
Dangers of Using Alcohol and Drugs to Relieve Anxiety
Alcohol and narcotic drugs temporarily put a hold on mental stress. Note that alcohol affects the brain in two phases, working as a sedative, then a depressant. In the first phase, it triggers an increase in dopamine, inducing euphoria and relaxation. As a depressant, it depletes the level of serotonin (happiness hormone), and this is where the pleasant feelings start to wear off. These effects are like those of taking antidepressant medications.
Even limited use of alcohol and drugs can stir up mental health symptoms, making you develop unhealthy habits like alcoholism. Here are the summed-up reasons we discourage drugs and substance use for anxiety relief.
- Alcohol dependency. Every time you drink to lose anxiety, your body becomes tolerant of alcohol, leading you into a vicious cycle.
- Drugs disrupt sleep patterns. Poor sleep quality adversely affects your moods and energy levels.
- It might worsen short-term memory. Continuous drinking of alcohol damages the brain structure, causing a lapse in memory.
- Anxiety hangovers. Sweating, dizziness, palpitations, and shaking during a hangover can make you acutely anxious.
Instead of depending on addictive substances, consider the following natural remedies to cope with anxiety.
Socialize Without Getting High
There are many ways to have good times with other people without taking alcohol or a psychoactive drug. You might want to limit the amount of time you spend with your peers. Also, choose friends that embrace a sober life to avoid situations that involve alcohol. It would be best if you hung around people who understand your struggles with anxiety. You need a company that can abstain from drugs and alcohol in your presence. Have you tried meeting new people pursuing hobbies like yours? This can help alleviate stress by providing a sense of purpose in life.
Perhaps you are struggling with both anxiety and addiction. The one area you should practice is how to be yourself. Seek more knowledge on self-awareness to boost confidence in social situations. You don’t need to be perfect all the time. Acknowledge your mistakes but don’t beat yourself up. Try to take the focus off yourself and pay more attention to what is happening around you. Instead of listening to your anxious mind, engage in meaningful conversations with other people. No one can figure out your state of mind by just looking at you. Be a good listener and show interest in what others are saying in a social gathering.
Small, consistent changes can reduce anxiety and panic attacks. First, embrace an active lifestyle to relieve physical tension. Aim to spend at least three hours per week doing physical activities. Think about bike rides, brisk walking, swimming, and dancing. If gym machines excite you more, lift them often. Yoga, meditation, and deep breathing are good ways to calm your mind. You’ll be surprised how slow breathing can clear your head when you start to feel anxious. The idea behind meditation is to induce positive thoughts, so focus on anything that makes you happy.
Avoid refined carbs and sugars, but do not skip important meals like breakfast when it comes to nutrition. You want to maintain a healthy blood sugar level- neither too high nor too low. For example, a high blood sugar level can make you moody, driving you to relapse if you struggle with addiction. Another thing to avoid is caffeine intake, especially before bedtime. Caffeine stimulates the brain, keeping you awake and restless. Instead, consume foods high in magnesium and fatty acids. These nutrients have been shown to treat depression. Vitamin B complex and probiotics are other good choices. They help in boosting gut health, which is strongly related to brain health.
Alcohol and drugs are not a treatment for anxiety. While taking a glass of wine seems like a good idea when faced with life challenges, the “positive” effects are short-lived. The truth is substance abuse reinforces anxiety rather than solving the cause. If you have a social anxiety disorder, you are at a greater risk of abusing alcohol and drugs to get more comfortable around people. Avoid this unhealthy habit as it can lead to a vicious cycle of substance abuse.
The best way to deal with anxiety is to seek professional help. If your loved one has this mental disorder, reach out to us to discuss possible treatment options. Our specialists are waiting to pick your call. Our helpline is 844-639-8371.