What is the relationship between alcoholism and anxiety?
The relationship between alcoholism and anxiety is complex and has many layers. An important thing to know is that the relationship does exist and that it can be very strong. Unfortunately for patients the stronger the relationship between their alcoholism and anxiety is the weaker and more vulnerable they are.
Many individuals that suffer from some type of anxiety disorders self medicate with alcohol without knowing that drinking is the last thing they should be doing. Unfortunately most of those people fall into “the alcohol trap” and over time end up being alcoholics.
What is an "Alcohol Trap"?
In the beginning alcohol consumption can reduce some symptoms of anxiety and depression leaving the individual thinking that alcohol is an answer to their problems. Unfortunately the more they drink alcohol the more they are tolerant to it. This leaves them no choice but to drink even more quantities of alcohol in order to get the same effect.
For example a person suffering from a social phobia in the beginning needs four beers to relax enough so that he is able to socialize and interact with other individuals. After three months he needs five beers, after six months he needs seven beers and so on. Eventually he becomes an alcoholic and all the alcohol he has consumed comes back at him.
Can alcoholism cause anxiety?
Alcoholism can cause, deepen and prolong anxiety disorder. Some psychologists believe that alcoholism and anxiety are inseparable. In their opinion alcoholism is always accompanied with some type of anxiety and depression because the overuse of alcohol has a great impact on the brain functioning.
There are certain brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that are responsible for normal brain functioning. Overuse of alcohol causes brain cells to produce less neurotransmitters than are needed or, even completely blocks their production. Therefore the individual becomes anxious and depressed.
A side from the biological (physiological) cause of anxiety there are also many psychological reasons why alcoholism causes and nourishes anxiety. Alcoholics usually lose their job, friends, dignity, self-respect and are unable to maintain any type of relationships including marriages.
Sadly alcoholics lose everything (or are in the process of losing everything) that matters to them at times when they need love and support the most. That makes them even more vulnerable and desperate having no choice (in their minds) but to easy their pain with alcohol.
Alcoholism and anxiety represent a vicious cycle of hopelessness, fear and pain. Even if your anxiety disorder is not caused by alcoholism it is definitely deepened and “maintained” by it. Alcoholism is never a part of a solution but an ocean of darkness and misery that has no bottom.
This is why in order to deal with and treat anxiety you must face your alcoholism as well. Anxiety cannot be beaten if you continue to consume and abuse alcohol. One of the most difficult things to do is to break the bond between alcoholism and anxiety however this is essential for a successful treatment.
How to break the bond between alcoholism and anxiety?
An alcoholic is powerless over his or her alcoholism. This is why an alcoholic must be in alcohol counseling and support (group) therapy.
Support is very important part of alcohol counseling because alcoholics usually don’t have any proper support which makes things even more difficult for them. Along with alcohol counseling psychotherapy is mandatory for treating anxiety. The very effective way of breaking the bond between alcoholism and anxiety is to treat both disorders separately but simultaneously.
Remember one cannot be successfully treated for anxiety without stopping drinking alcohol. You need to know that alcoholism and anxiety are two very close “friends” and that in order to beat them you need to break their friendship first and then to deal with each disorder separately.