Anxiety is a creature that often gives you the sense of having no control. Over your work, over your family, over your life. Whether it is anxiety embedded into your very being from the chemical combination concocted in your brain or the lifestyle you live, it is very easy to drown in it.
With anxiety disorders and substance abuse being some of the top issues in mental health, it’s no surprise how common alcoholism (which we now call Alcohol Use Disorder and I recommend this for information on the evolution of the disorder) is found in people with anxiety. Studies show a correlation between the two, and their bond is as undeniable as it is toxic. The ways in which the two works together can bring the strongest of prey to its knees if caught off guard.
People with chronic anxiety suffer from very tense lifestyles. Considering impulsive symptoms in anxiety disorders that break that tension, addiction lies in some of the hands of the self-medicated. As human beings, we have the amazing capability to be addicted to anything and everything. And anxiety gives you that extra motivation to indulge.
Knowing a little bit about chronic anxiety, and probably experiencing everyday anxieties yourself, you can see a little bit why one would want to escape from their life. Having a moment where your worries are seemingly stale on the back burner while you explore these positive emotions, why wouldn’t you want to escape to this place?
Now, this is what can bring on self-medication. More and more stress is being piled on all of us every day, and we find ways to deflate. Alcohol brings us that sense of escape, an escape that some long for. The problem with this utopia we submerge ourselves into is the next day our brain has no idea what to do.
Alcohol tells your neurotransmitters to have a party making you feel good, and your brain calms down.
Take a second to take those two words in for a second.
Nice, isn’t it?
So you feel super good and you aren’t stressed out. This isn’t to say that every time someone who has anxiety drinks has a great time. This isn’t to say that at all. Alcohol being a depressant, it can completely wreck your mood and make you spiral into a hole unimaginable sober. But we still crave the nectar.
Now that we have had our party, our good feelings have ravaged our bodies and we fall asleep into the dream world of bliss. But it’s when we awake when we pay the price that wishes always cost.
The brain is turned back on. And it feels like it’s on overdrive. Because you know all of those good feelings? Those were chemicals, delicious serotonin, flooding into your brain and now it’s sucked dry along with water. Getting out of bed is impossible. Every mistake of your life surfaces. Your heart feels like it’s about to beat out of your chest and you can’t do anything but curl into a ball and try to will the emptiness away.
And that begets more self-medication. You see, it’s a cycle that you fall into. You feel crappy, you try to stop feeling crappy, if you take a shortcut, you pay for it later. And it’s all too common in people with anxiety.
The best twist to this dynamic duo that can ruin your life if you let it, is that substance abuse is also linked to higher rates of suicide in patients with disorders relating to anxiety.
This is one reason I personally don’t drink. Besides the fact that it is a breeding ground for poor decisions and I already am self-destructive enough, it makes me feel so gross in the morning. I can’t get out of bed, not because of some headache, but because I have a disgusting pit of darkness anchoring me to my mattress. Anything I can remember from the night before is traumatizing to remember, and all I can do is lay curled into a ball until it passes.
If your hangovers consist of depression, this might be happening to you, too.