People often associate alcohol with a feeling of relaxation, especially when it is used in a social setting or to unwind after work. However, that association can often become problematic especially for people that suffer from anxiety. There is a strong connection between chronic alcohol abuse and anxiety for many people in the U.S.
The tendency for people to drink in order to relax and celebrate can lead to the misconception that alcohol is a good cure for anxiety. People that feel anxious in social situations might end up drinking more or those who are unable to handle their stress might drink whenever they are tense. However, alcohol only provides short-term temporary relief from anxiety and over time can actually worsen anxious feelings when consumed regularly.
People with anxiety often feel restless, have difficulty focusing, experience a lot of muscle tension and have trouble sleeping. Alcohol can initially make them feel more relaxed because it has a sedative effect but developing a tolerance and going through withdrawal can lead to very severe symptoms of anxiety and depression. In many cases, frequent alcohol abuse can actually lead to an anxiety disorder.
Issues like social anxiety disorder, panic disorder and other anxiety illnesses are commonly linked with alcohol abuse. About 20 percent of people with social anxiety disorder suffer from some type of alcohol dependence. People with social anxiety use alcohol as a way to feel more comfortable in social situations but studies show that alcohol can increase anxiety within just a few hours of consuming it.
People with anxiety are more vulnerable to alcohol problems and people that drink are more susceptible to the development of anxiety. Those with co-occurring disorders will need to get treatment for both their anxiety and addiction in order to recover their mental health.