What’s the connection between alcohol and stress?
- Coping psychologically and emotionally with the stresses of our busy lives is a challenge.
- Chronic stress can trigger or exacerbate alcohol abuse problems.
- Its important not to use alcohol in response to a stressful situation or event.
- Research indicates that stressful events may profoundly influence the use of alcohol.
People may drink as a means of coping with certain stressful feelings such as
- financial problems
- job stress
- marital problems.
It is important to be aware that using alcohol in reaction to a stressful event or feelings may increase the risk of alcohol abuse.
There are several risk factors for abuse of alcohol in reaction to stress
- Using alcohol to cope.
- Experiencing the stressful event of feeling as severe, chronic, intense, or unavoidable.
- Lack of social support or other resources for helping to cope with stressful events
- Having a family history of drinking in response to stress.
- Believing that alcohol will help to reduce stress.
- Having unhealthy or other problematic drinking behavior preceding the stressful event or feeling.
- Feeling or having no control over the stressful event or feeling.
- Trying to avoid or numb feelings in reaction to the stressful event.
Special concerns for recovering alcoholics include
- Among abstinent alcoholics, personally threatening, severe, and chronic life
stressors may lead to alcohol relapse.
- An alcoholic may resume the use of alcohol after a lengthy period of abstinence
to try to lessen the stressful feelings.
- Those most vulnerable to relapse tend to be alcoholic persons who have low levels
of coping skills, self-efficacy, and social support.
Here’s what might help:
Learn what constitutes at-risk levels of drinking.
- For a man, less than 14 standard drinks a week or 2 per day on average. No more than four during any single event.
- For a woman, less than 7 standard drinks a week or 1 drink a day, on average. No more than two during any single event.