Relationship between alcohol consumption and anxiety

Unfortunately, we now live in a world where mental health conditions are highly prevalent. Down to greater pressures in life, down to higher diagnoses rates, down to the inability to cope through everyday stresses, the likes of anxiety disorders are heightening.

Years ago, anxiety was unheard of, apart from nervous energy, as a positive attribute to have. While this may have been down to the stigma associated with mental health conditions, greater quality lives were experienced. Since a number of environmental, biological, social and psychological influences and stresses have increased, so have anxiety related diagnoses.

However, there is a dominant influential factor now leading the way in anxiety related diagnoses, known as excessive alcohol consumption. Sadly, as have diagnosis rates for mental health issues, alcohol use disorders and addictions have amplified. In the majority of those cases, the true relationship between alcohol consumption and anxiety is highlighted, known as a dual diagnosis.

Yet, alcohol isn’t the only influential part to play in this relationship. Anxiety can in fact influence the misuse of alcohol, again, strengthening this toxic relationship, causing addiction weaknesses.

As there’s such a strong relationship between both mental health conditions, it’s imperative that those struggling with either, consider the severity of this vicious circle, stemming into a dual diagnosis. If you are experiencing anxiety or an alcohol use disorder, reach out to our team at Ocean Recovery.

Signs and symptoms of anxiety

Anxiety is a highly sensitive, dominant mental health condition in today’s society. It can materialise into a stream of conditions, such as panic disorders, social anxiety, alcohol induced anxiety, phobias, and chronic mood conditions. Down to the complexities of mental health conditions, it can be difficult to pinpoint an exact definition or symptom of anxiety.

However, a general view is that a degree of anxiety is classed as healthy, influencing nervous energy. In those nervous situations, the average person will have the ability to control their ‘fight or flight’ response. Yet, those suffering with an anxiety disorder will struggle to rationally control that response, resulting in ongoing panic.

The difficult nature of anxiety is that anything can trigger an anxiety attack. From a small thought, to a serious life event. With this in mind, it must be treated with care as a heightened psychological response can soon aggravate.

Common signs and symptoms of anxiety include insomnia, headaches, tension, irritability, heart problems or palpitations, IBS problems, irrational decisions, severe fear, and depression. If you are experiencing a mix of these, it is recommended that you reach out for professional support. If you are experiencing them, while excessively consuming alcohol, you should act with urgency to avoid the damaging relationship between both mental health conditions.

Anxiety disorder and alcohol consumption

Unfortunately, many individuals living with an anxiety disorder will use alcohol as a coping strategy. This is very common, down to the escapism that alcohol can offer. However, through this, a chronic relationship between alcohol consumption and anxiety can fester.

For someone suffering with anxiety, adaptations will soon take place in the brain. Hormones will imbalance, blood flow will be disrupted, the ‘fight or flight’ response will be activated on a consistent basis. This is exactly why many clients with anxiety are on edge or irritable.

When consuming alcohol, further adaptations take place, slowing down psychological responses and changing outlooks. This mix, with the existing changes caused by anxiety can aggravate side effects, can heighten panic, can cause irreversible weaknesses.

Down to this toxic mix, those with anxiety are encouraged to avoid alcohol consumption, especially excessively. By enabling this, not only can anxiety related side effects worsen, the prospects of an alcohol addiction will increase.

The relationship between alcohol consumption and anxiety 

While those with pre-existing anxiety are recommended to avoid alcohol consumption, the reverse impacts can also materialise, where excessive alcohol consumption can lead to anxiety.

Initially, alcohol consumption is viewed as innocent. It is heavily normalised, especially in the UK. However, once consumption reaches the excessive mark, there is a risk of addiction. A common symptom of addiction are mental health conditions, in the form of anxiety, depression and paranoia.

Through ongoing consumption, those symptoms can continue to develop, can take control, can ultimately influence greater substance abuse. A vicious circle can mature here, where alcohol will be used to control those anxious feelings or emotions, again utilising alcohol as a coping strategy.

It’s clear to see the toxic relationship between alcohol consumption and anxiety, especially for those who are experiencing both. Yet, concerns do lie for singular diagnoses, where the possibility of a dual diagnosis can progress.

Whether alcohol is consumed to cope through anxiety, or whether anxious emotions are heightening alcohol consumption, they are an uncontrollable, damaging mix. To overcome both mental health conditions, treatment for a dual diagnosis will be required.

Treatment and care for a dual diagnosis

At Ocean Recovery, we’ve sadly witnessed the damaging effect of alcohol consumption and anxiety. Through this experience, we’ve seen how pinnacle standalone treatment programmes are, focusing in on each individual condition. While a dual diagnosis will be present through the relationship between alcohol consumption and anxiety, a specialist, personal approach to treatment must be followed.

As psychological responses and adaptations are caused through both conditions, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, support groups and exposure therapy are important addiction treatment options. Yet, through both anxiety and an alcohol use disorder, medical streams will be required, such as detoxification and replacement drugs.

Down to the complexities of each standalone illness, once combined together, a multifarious diagnosis will be present, requiring personal treatment, ideal for both anxiety and alcohol abuse. At Ocean Recovery, we can provide this level and quality of care, helping to tackle both lifechanging conditions.

If you are abusing alcohol on an excessive scale, please consider the risks of developing an anxiety related disorder. If you are already living with anxiety, where alcohol is used as a coping strategy, please consider the risk of addiction and your enablement.  

The relationship between alcohol consumption and anxiety will continue to develop and adapt. Overcome your experience with both by reaching out for our support, helping you also adapt, for the better.





John Gillen - Author - Last updated: December 14, 2021

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.