How Alcohol Affects Your Anxiety

Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on October 8, 2021.

If you're struggling with an anxiety disorder, you may think drinking alcohol helps quiet your symptoms. Unfortunately, the truth is a bit more complex than that. Although alcohol may help you feel more comfortable with your surroundings at the moment, there's evidence that it may do more harm than good in the long run. Read on to learn more about how alcohol and anxiety interact and the possible links they share.

How Common Are Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. Every year, anxiety affects about 40 million people in the U.S., or about 18% of the population. People with anxiety disorders also often have another mental illness diagnosis, like depression or a substance abuse disorder.

How Are Alcohol and Anxiety Linked?

According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, as many as 20% of people with anxiety also meet the criteria for alcohol addiction. There is much debate over whether anxiety causes alcohol addiction or vice versa. Still, an indisputable fact is that a co-occurring diagnosis of anxiety and substance use disorder is more common than a singular diagnosis of anxiety.

Many people who begin suffering from anxiety use alcohol for relief from their symptoms, like paranoia and anxiety attacks. They may find it is easier to be in public and interact with others while intoxicated. However, a common issue for some people is anxiety after drinking, which sometimes occurs at a more intense level than before they'd started drinking in the first place.

This increased anxiety then causes them to drink more alcohol to continue feeling better, which builds their body's tolerance to alcohol. They need to drink more to feel the same effects, increasing their risk of developing an alcohol addiction. This becomes a cycle they find themselves unable or unwilling to escape without external support from others.

Get Treatment for Co-Occurring Alcohol Use and Anxiety Disorders

If you think you need assistance for alcohol addiction compounded by anxiety, it's essential to find a treatment plan that will help both of your concerns simultaneously. Receiving treatment for just substance abuse or an anxiety disorder may cause a relapse.

At Diamond House Detox, we understand how important it is for clients to receive simultaneous treatment for alcohol addiction and anxiety. That's why we offer dual diagnosis treatment at our Sacramento treatment center, where we have mental health professionals on staff who specialize in addiction. Call us or contact us online for confidential help with substance abuse and anxiety.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner at Diamond House Detox
Vicky is a board certified Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. She began her nursing career in healthcare by working in the intensive care unit, and then an inpatient psychiatric hospital. After realizing the mental health needs of both the patients and the families she served, she became a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. Throughout her experience working with clients, she has developed a passion for those with dual diagnoses and specializes in helping individuals recognize the issues driving their substance use. This recognition has been crucial to the individual’s success in treatment. Vicky opened Diamond House Detox so that she can address these issues early on in a therapeutic environment to allow clients to transition to the next level in their recovery.
Vicky Magobet
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