Does Alcohol Relieve Stress?

If I were to say straight out that alcohol does not relieve stress, I would be shot down in flames. So many people would say, for example, that a drink after a hard day’s work relaxes them and makes them feel better. If deadening your senses is a good way of relieving stress and relaxing then so be it.

However, there are a couple of flaws in this. As already mentioned, alcohol deadens all feelings so if you come home from work feeling thirsty, why not have a drink of something that does not deaden the senses and does not dehydrate you? If it was a very hot day and you felt hot and flustered, you would not necessarily feel like a hot bath, would you? A cool shower might be more what is required. What I am suggesting is that instead of having a drink to dull all senses, you identify what is the specific cause of your stress and deal with that (tense muscles? – have a hot bath; aching feet? – put on slippers; tired? sit down and chill out). Here is a good one – hungry? Eat food, don’t drink. Almost everyone drinks more when they are hungry.

Habit to relive stress

Drinking to relax is also a habit and one that is hard to break. However, once broken, there are so many better ways to relax and these are not going to make you so tired and drained of energy as drinking makes you feel. My new habit is to have a glass of fresh juice, or cup of coffee or tea. It really does work just as well once you accept that this is so. Alcohol, on the other hand, just masks what the source of the stress is. It does not remove it, it simply makes us oblivious. That is one of the reasons why a chronic alcoholic may not take care of their personal hygiene or care for themselves very well.

Problem with Alcohol

The other problem about using alcohol – or any other drug or prescription medication – to relieve stress is that as time goes on it takes more and more of it to have the same effect. Our tolerance to alcohol builds up – as would our tolerance to anything else. It is why in a classic case the person who gets Valium from their GP eventually finds that they need a stronger and stronger dose to get the same effect.

Not only does alcohol not relieve stress, eventually it will directly cause it. Ask any recovering alcoholic how alcohol made them feel at the end of their drinking and the chances are they will agree that they were tense and irritable and unable to sleep. Many people say that their  head began to resemble a washing machine. And that is without the real stress caused by people who love us constantly nagging us about our drinking and the shame and guilt associated with it and the behaviour caused by our drinking.

So using alcohol to relive stress is neither necessary nor beneficial.

If you have an alcohol or drug related problem, please call 01462 851414 for free and confidential advice and help.

Does Alcohol Relieve Stress?