Does Alcohol Have an Effect on Stress?

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Last Updated on February 23, 2024 by Shabnam Sengupta

Stress management is essential to maintaining mental and physical well-being. Effective stress management involves recognising the sources of stress in one’s life. Individuals can manage stress by prioritising self-care and adopting healthy coping strategies. Mindfulness practices, a balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep help manage stress. Some people take alcohol during stress. Here, we discuss the consequences of drinking alcohol in stress. 

Does stress contribute to alcohol consumption?

Stress can increase the consumption of alcohol. Stress occurring from a traumatic event can cause greater alcohol consumption. Combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develop alcohol use problems. 

Stress has an impact on alcohol consumption at every level. Whether you are beginning to drink or becoming a regular drinker, stress can increase the consumption of alcohol.

People abstaining from alcohol with a history of addiction are more prone to stress. It means that whenever they face stress, they go back to drinking. 

Further, studies have found that people with childhood trauma are at a high risk of heavy alcohol consumption. They may develop alcohol use disorders as adults. People with personality traits like impulsivity are also at risk of heavy drinking. 

Thus, different forms of stress can be the reason for increased alcohol consumption. 

What are the effects of alcohol on stress?

Some people think that it is easy to manage stress with a glass of alcohol. It calms and uplifts them. They lose inhibition for some time. 

Drinking for a short duration initiates the stress response in the body. There is a link between the body’s stress response system and the brain’s reward system. Under stress, certain hormones signal the brain to release dopamine. Dopamine is the reward chemical. It gives a sense of pleasure, joy, and satisfaction. Thus, drinking alcohol during stress causes relaxation.

Drinking alcohol increases the stress response in the body. Usually, the body adapts to stress and calms down. But, because people feel calmer after drinking, they may drink more. Binge drinking can hinder the delicate balance of the stress response. As a result, the body’s stress response breaks down. It changes how brain chemicals work, increasing alcohol cravings and stress. It may also lead to a feeling of unease and anxiety.

People who binge drink might feel more energetic and want to drink more. At the same time, social drinkers feel relaxed after one drink. WHO defines binge drinking as consuming six or more drinks at one time. Thus, drinking alcohol during stress is counterproductive. It leads to alcohol addiction and increases stress.

How does alcohol impact the body?

The harmful effects of alcohol use contribute to around 200 diseases and injuries. It causes around 5.3% of worldwide deaths.

Usually, college students indulge in alcohol and also have high-stress levels. Researchers found that high alcohol intake impaired the memory of these students. Thus, adolescent-onset drinking can cause damage to brain functioning. 

People may take up drinking alcohol as stress relief. However, alcohol can have many harmful effects on the body. Studies suggest that chronic alcohol consumption can be a risk factor for causing cancer. It may cause cancers of the ovaries, breasts, colon, liver, rectum, oral cavity, larynx, pharynx, and oesophagus. 

High alcohol consumption also has a relation with heart health. Men or women taking 1 to 2 drinks a day are at risk of developing hypertension. The underlying reasons may be atherosclerosis, hormonal imbalance, and impairment of artery functions. Heavy and frequent drinking greatly harms the liver. The liver is the first place where alcohol metabolism occurs. A study in 2017 found that frequent drinking can cause liver damage. Researchers defined frequent drinking as 4 standard drinks per day for men and 2 standard drinks per day for women.

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Disclaimer
Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can further read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

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