If You Drink Because of Your Problems, Your Problem Might Be Drinking

Reviewed Aug 31, 2017

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Summary

The more you drink to change your mood, the more likely you are to lose control over your life.

There is no doubt that drinking a little alcohol can take the edge off a difficult day and temporarily reduce stress. After all, alcohol is a sedative hypnotic drug in the same class as prescription sedatives and sleeping aids such as Xanax®, Valium®, and Ambien®.

A five-ounce glass of wine before dinner or having a few 12-ounce beers while watching a football game is commonplace in our culture and for the most part not harmful. There is even evidence that for men having one or two alcoholic drinks per day has some health benefits. For women, it is one alcoholic beverage per day. Although most adults learn to drink responsibly, as many as 10 percent to 20 percent do not. People who overuse alcohol are a very diverse group, yet most have at least one thing in common—they all seem to have problems. Just ask them.

Alcoholic thinking

Karen, a 35-year-old computer professional whose excessive drinking played a major factor in her divorce, claims that the reason she drinks so much is because her husband left her.

When the consequences of problem drinking arise, those with the problem quickly blame it on their circumstances—their boss, their spouse, an adversity, illness, etc. The psychology of this thinking is simple. On some level people with alcohol use disorder know that their drinking is having harmful effects on the important things and people in their life, yet drinking makes them feel better. As one woman said, “drinking is a four-hour vacation from my problems.” To continue to drink in spite of the harmful consequences is easier if you can use the problems in your life as an excuse.

The bottom line: Drinking alcohol to cope with a problem always leads to bigger ones.

Changing your mood

The reason people drink alcohol, regardless of what they may say, is to change their mood. So when we face problems or feel fearful or hurt, alcohol, because of its unique pharmacology, will quickly change our mood. But the change is short-lived. And, here is the catch: The more you drink to change your mood, the more likely you are to lose some control over your life. That could mean that you come to work late with a hangover or do something to a loved one that you regret. As a result, you eventually have more stress and problems in your life, not fewer.

Unfortunately, most people who drink never see it this way. Like Karen in the story above, they simply know that drinking has an immediate and positive effect on their mood and they enjoy the euphoria alcohol provides. As this pattern progresses, more and more problems will arise.

What to do

Alcohol never solves any problems; it creates them. If you are facing a tough time or are worried about your drinking, talk with someone who will be honest and objective with you. Alcohol use disorder is highly treatable. You can also call the toll-free number on this site to speak with a professional who can help you.

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

Summary

The more you drink to change your mood, the more likely you are to lose control over your life.

There is no doubt that drinking a little alcohol can take the edge off a difficult day and temporarily reduce stress. After all, alcohol is a sedative hypnotic drug in the same class as prescription sedatives and sleeping aids such as Xanax®, Valium®, and Ambien®.

A five-ounce glass of wine before dinner or having a few 12-ounce beers while watching a football game is commonplace in our culture and for the most part not harmful. There is even evidence that for men having one or two alcoholic drinks per day has some health benefits. For women, it is one alcoholic beverage per day. Although most adults learn to drink responsibly, as many as 10 percent to 20 percent do not. People who overuse alcohol are a very diverse group, yet most have at least one thing in common—they all seem to have problems. Just ask them.

Alcoholic thinking

Karen, a 35-year-old computer professional whose excessive drinking played a major factor in her divorce, claims that the reason she drinks so much is because her husband left her.

When the consequences of problem drinking arise, those with the problem quickly blame it on their circumstances—their boss, their spouse, an adversity, illness, etc. The psychology of this thinking is simple. On some level people with alcohol use disorder know that their drinking is having harmful effects on the important things and people in their life, yet drinking makes them feel better. As one woman said, “drinking is a four-hour vacation from my problems.” To continue to drink in spite of the harmful consequences is easier if you can use the problems in your life as an excuse.

The bottom line: Drinking alcohol to cope with a problem always leads to bigger ones.

Changing your mood

The reason people drink alcohol, regardless of what they may say, is to change their mood. So when we face problems or feel fearful or hurt, alcohol, because of its unique pharmacology, will quickly change our mood. But the change is short-lived. And, here is the catch: The more you drink to change your mood, the more likely you are to lose some control over your life. That could mean that you come to work late with a hangover or do something to a loved one that you regret. As a result, you eventually have more stress and problems in your life, not fewer.

Unfortunately, most people who drink never see it this way. Like Karen in the story above, they simply know that drinking has an immediate and positive effect on their mood and they enjoy the euphoria alcohol provides. As this pattern progresses, more and more problems will arise.

What to do

Alcohol never solves any problems; it creates them. If you are facing a tough time or are worried about your drinking, talk with someone who will be honest and objective with you. Alcohol use disorder is highly treatable. You can also call the toll-free number on this site to speak with a professional who can help you.

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

Summary

The more you drink to change your mood, the more likely you are to lose control over your life.

There is no doubt that drinking a little alcohol can take the edge off a difficult day and temporarily reduce stress. After all, alcohol is a sedative hypnotic drug in the same class as prescription sedatives and sleeping aids such as Xanax®, Valium®, and Ambien®.

A five-ounce glass of wine before dinner or having a few 12-ounce beers while watching a football game is commonplace in our culture and for the most part not harmful. There is even evidence that for men having one or two alcoholic drinks per day has some health benefits. For women, it is one alcoholic beverage per day. Although most adults learn to drink responsibly, as many as 10 percent to 20 percent do not. People who overuse alcohol are a very diverse group, yet most have at least one thing in common—they all seem to have problems. Just ask them.

Alcoholic thinking

Karen, a 35-year-old computer professional whose excessive drinking played a major factor in her divorce, claims that the reason she drinks so much is because her husband left her.

When the consequences of problem drinking arise, those with the problem quickly blame it on their circumstances—their boss, their spouse, an adversity, illness, etc. The psychology of this thinking is simple. On some level people with alcohol use disorder know that their drinking is having harmful effects on the important things and people in their life, yet drinking makes them feel better. As one woman said, “drinking is a four-hour vacation from my problems.” To continue to drink in spite of the harmful consequences is easier if you can use the problems in your life as an excuse.

The bottom line: Drinking alcohol to cope with a problem always leads to bigger ones.

Changing your mood

The reason people drink alcohol, regardless of what they may say, is to change their mood. So when we face problems or feel fearful or hurt, alcohol, because of its unique pharmacology, will quickly change our mood. But the change is short-lived. And, here is the catch: The more you drink to change your mood, the more likely you are to lose some control over your life. That could mean that you come to work late with a hangover or do something to a loved one that you regret. As a result, you eventually have more stress and problems in your life, not fewer.

Unfortunately, most people who drink never see it this way. Like Karen in the story above, they simply know that drinking has an immediate and positive effect on their mood and they enjoy the euphoria alcohol provides. As this pattern progresses, more and more problems will arise.

What to do

Alcohol never solves any problems; it creates them. If you are facing a tough time or are worried about your drinking, talk with someone who will be honest and objective with you. Alcohol use disorder is highly treatable. You can also call the toll-free number on this site to speak with a professional who can help you.

By Drew W. Edwards, MS, EdD
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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