Alcohol Usually Makes a Bad Problem Worse

Reviewed Aug 31, 2017

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Summary

Alcohol impairs the ability to solve problems and to be emotionally present for those who depend on us.

Life is uncertain … especially these days. When confronted with events and circumstances beyond our control, such as layoffs, financial problems or illness, people normally want to change their circumstances, or change how they feel. During difficult times many people turn to alcohol in search of relief.

Calming your nerves

Alcohol has been used and overused to calm nerves for more than 3,000 years. The short-term effects of alcohol are well-known and compelling. Alcohol is a sedative hypnotic drug in the same class as benzodiazepines, which include Xanax® and Ativan®. These medications are commonly prescribed for acute anxiety and panic disorder. Similarly, alcohol provides short-term relief from worry and stress, but, like Xanax® and Ativan®, alcohol is addictive and widely overused.

So when problems occur, such as financial stress, problems at work or serious illness, some people turn to alcohol to calm their emotions and take the edge off. What most people fail to recognize is that using alcohol to cope with a problem, large or small, can quickly turn into alcohol misuse or alcohol use disorder.

The paradox of alcohol

Miguel was a 33-year-old department head at a teaching hospital with no history of substance abuse. His wife, who also worked at the hospital as a nurse, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Miguel had never faced a problem like this before. Although his wife’s cancer was treatable, she was experiencing tremendous fatigue and depression. Eventually she had to take an indefinite leave of absence from her job. Now that his wife had a life-threatening illness, Miguel faced the additional pressures of financial burdens and uncertainty.

To cope with his problems, Miguel began drinking “a few beers” after work, and reported that it helped calm his nerves before he arrived at home. Although Miguel felt better when he was drinking, he wasn’t performing better—in any aspect of his life. The “few beers” Miguel was drinking after he learned about his wife’s illness soon escalated to six to eight beers per night. As a result, his job performance slid and he didn’t spend time with his two young children. He also wasn’t emotionally available or strong for his wife. Miguel’s drinking actually created more problems for his family.

The paradoxical effect of using alcohol to cope with a problem is that it provides a false sense of relief and well-being. Just because someone feels better when she drinks, doesn’t mean that she is functioning better. The fact is that alcohol impairs our ability to solve problems and to be emotionally present for those who depend on us.

Where to turn for help

If you are feeling overwhelmed by life, or you think you or a loved one has an alcohol problem, try talking with a trusted friend or family member. Sometimes just talking things out with someone who cares puts problems in a new perspective. You may also call the toll-free number on this website to talk with a professional who can help.

Remember, drinking is never a solution to a real problem.

By Drew Edwards, EdD, MS
Reviewed by Enrique Olivares, MD, FAPA, Director of Addiction Services, Beacon Health Options

Summary

Alcohol impairs the ability to solve problems and to be emotionally present for those who depend on us.

Life is uncertain … especially these days. When confronted with events and circumstances beyond our control, such as layoffs, financial problems or illness, people normally want to change their circumstances, or change how they feel. During difficult times many people turn to alcohol in search of relief.

Calming your nerves

Alcohol has been used and overused to calm nerves for more than 3,000 years. The short-term effects of alcohol are well-known and compelling. Alcohol is a sedative hypnotic drug in the same class as benzodiazepines, which include Xanax® and Ativan®. These medications are commonly prescribed for acute anxiety and panic disorder. Similarly, alcohol provides short-term relief from worry and stress, but, like Xanax® and Ativan®, alcohol is addictive and widely overused.

So when problems occur, such as financial stress, problems at work or serious illness, some people turn to alcohol to calm their emotions and take the edge off. What most people fail to recognize is that using alcohol to cope with a problem, large or small, can quickly turn into alcohol misuse or alcohol use disorder.

The paradox of alcohol

Miguel was a 33-year-old department head at a teaching hospital with no history of substance abuse. His wife, who also worked at the hospital as a nurse, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Miguel had never faced a problem like this before. Although his wife’s cancer was treatable, she was experiencing tremendous fatigue and depression. Eventually she had to take an indefinite leave of absence from her job. Now that his wife had a life-threatening illness, Miguel faced the additional pressures of financial burdens and uncertainty.

To cope with his problems, Miguel began drinking “a few beers” after work, and reported that it helped calm his nerves before he arrived at home. Although Miguel felt better when he was drinking, he wasn’t performing better—in any aspect of his life. The “few beers” Miguel was drinking after he learned about his wife’s illness soon escalated to six to eight beers per night. As a result, his job performance slid and he didn’t spend time with his two young children. He also wasn’t emotionally available or strong for his wife. Miguel’s drinking actually created more problems for his family.

The paradoxical effect of using alcohol to cope with a problem is that it provides a false sense of relief and well-being. Just because someone feels better when she drinks, doesn’t mean that she is functioning better. The fact is that alcohol impairs our ability to solve problems and to be emotionally present for those who depend on us.

Where to turn for help

If you are feeling overwhelmed by life, or you think you or a loved one has an alcohol problem, try talking with a trusted friend or family member. Sometimes just talking things out with someone who cares puts problems in a new perspective. You may also call the toll-free number on this website to talk with a professional who can help.

Remember, drinking is never a solution to a real problem.

By Drew Edwards, EdD, MS
Reviewed by Enrique Olivares, MD, FAPA, Director of Addiction Services, Beacon Health Options

Summary

Alcohol impairs the ability to solve problems and to be emotionally present for those who depend on us.

Life is uncertain … especially these days. When confronted with events and circumstances beyond our control, such as layoffs, financial problems or illness, people normally want to change their circumstances, or change how they feel. During difficult times many people turn to alcohol in search of relief.

Calming your nerves

Alcohol has been used and overused to calm nerves for more than 3,000 years. The short-term effects of alcohol are well-known and compelling. Alcohol is a sedative hypnotic drug in the same class as benzodiazepines, which include Xanax® and Ativan®. These medications are commonly prescribed for acute anxiety and panic disorder. Similarly, alcohol provides short-term relief from worry and stress, but, like Xanax® and Ativan®, alcohol is addictive and widely overused.

So when problems occur, such as financial stress, problems at work or serious illness, some people turn to alcohol to calm their emotions and take the edge off. What most people fail to recognize is that using alcohol to cope with a problem, large or small, can quickly turn into alcohol misuse or alcohol use disorder.

The paradox of alcohol

Miguel was a 33-year-old department head at a teaching hospital with no history of substance abuse. His wife, who also worked at the hospital as a nurse, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Miguel had never faced a problem like this before. Although his wife’s cancer was treatable, she was experiencing tremendous fatigue and depression. Eventually she had to take an indefinite leave of absence from her job. Now that his wife had a life-threatening illness, Miguel faced the additional pressures of financial burdens and uncertainty.

To cope with his problems, Miguel began drinking “a few beers” after work, and reported that it helped calm his nerves before he arrived at home. Although Miguel felt better when he was drinking, he wasn’t performing better—in any aspect of his life. The “few beers” Miguel was drinking after he learned about his wife’s illness soon escalated to six to eight beers per night. As a result, his job performance slid and he didn’t spend time with his two young children. He also wasn’t emotionally available or strong for his wife. Miguel’s drinking actually created more problems for his family.

The paradoxical effect of using alcohol to cope with a problem is that it provides a false sense of relief and well-being. Just because someone feels better when she drinks, doesn’t mean that she is functioning better. The fact is that alcohol impairs our ability to solve problems and to be emotionally present for those who depend on us.

Where to turn for help

If you are feeling overwhelmed by life, or you think you or a loved one has an alcohol problem, try talking with a trusted friend or family member. Sometimes just talking things out with someone who cares puts problems in a new perspective. You may also call the toll-free number on this website to talk with a professional who can help.

Remember, drinking is never a solution to a real problem.

By Drew Edwards, EdD, MS
Reviewed by Enrique Olivares, MD, FAPA, Director of Addiction Services, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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