The Effects of Stress and Alcohol

Many alcohol drinkers blame stress for dragging them into drinking. They believe that it is the problem that turned them into alcoholics. There could be truth in it, but it is not always the case. In fact, heavy alcohol consumption can also lead to stress.

Drinking alcohol occasionally and moderately can be beneficial; there is no doubt about it. Based on some researches, small amounts of alcohol can actually improve mental functioning. It can also increase performance in problem solving when under stress. On the other hand, drinking large amount of alcohol, especially when done for long periods, can essentially aggravate stress.

Increased alcohol consumption stimulates three important glands -- the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and adrenal gland. It also causes an increase in the production of cortisol in the body. Adrenaline boost is also caused by drinking large amounts of alcohol.

A person experiencing extreme stress finds it difficult to concentrate. This is also an obvious effect of high alcohol consumption. This explains why heavy alcohol drinkers experience a double whammy just at the time when they need to think clearly.

Other reports suggest that chronic alcohol drinkers usually show signs similar to those who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. Worse, their children have a higher possibility of acquiring the condition, according to the same report.

While exercise is one of the popularly known ways to relieve stress, excessive alcohol consumption prevents a person from doing regular exercise. Because of hang-overs, alcohol drinkers don’t get to do even simple activities the following day. Instead, they end up staying in bed most of the day when they should be walking the dog, cleaning the house or going to work.

Likewise, high alcohol intake also suppresses appetite. Because of this, only unhealthy calories are being taken into the body, resulting to poor and harmful diet. The person will become more sluggish and will be less productive. Nothing will be accomplished in a day and work will pile up. This will eventually lead to chronic stress as the person would start feeling useless.

People who are faced with financial problems find company in drinking large amounts of alcohol. Because of this, they find it harder to cope with the problem. They become more stressed as they continue reacting to the problem the wrong way. The effects of alcohol in the body and in the mind won’t help them solve their problems. Rather, it only makes even the simplest tasks more difficult to do. At the same time, cognitive functions are also being affected by excessive drinking. This eventually may lead to chronic stress.

Obviously, this case has a vicious cycle. Stress could have been prevented had it been dealt with properly. To some people, stress is the main reason they drink alcohol heavily. Their main concern is to run away from the problem instead of facing it head on. They do this without understanding that heavy alcohol drinking only hampers them from dealing with the internal and external factors that contribute to the stress they are experiencing. In fact, depending on a person’s alcohol tolerance, with two or three shots of whiskey in a day, the effect could be indeed terrible.

There is a need to put an end to this vicious cycle. To do this, one needs to seek alternative ways to minimize stress. A positive attitude can surely make a difference. We have to understand that life is full of challenges. We have to strive hard to achieve what we desire, but we also have to recognize the fact that we could fail sometimes not because we are incapable, but because there are things that are just not meant for us. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly and following a proper diet can also be a big help.