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  • Writer's pictureDr. Arsalan Azam

Unseen Effects of Alcohol on Mental Well-Being

As the workweek ends, many individuals find solace in heading to a bar on Friday night, sharing a drink with friends or colleagues—a customary way to unwind after a demanding week.

While this ritual is a common and often enjoyable practice, it's noteworthy that, in 2023, researchers are uncovering a concerning trend: the rise of self-medicating, particularly with alcohol, as mental health issues become increasingly prevalent. In this article, the Daydream MD team will guide you through the intricate relationship between alcohol and mental health, helping you identify whether you or a family member might benefit from additional support in managing overall well-being.

Alcohol and Mental Health- Are They Linked?

Are alcohol and mental health issues connected? In a word, absolutely. How does alcohol affect mental health? Ever wondered about the impact of alcohol on mental health? In simple terms, it's not a positive influence, especially when there's a family history of alcohol use disorder or alcoholism. Intriguingly, research indicates that alcoholism isn't just a marker of mental illness; it might be an illness on its own, closely tied to conditions like trauma, depression, and anxiety disorders. 

For some individuals grappling with mental health challenges, alcohol consumption can morph into a coping mechanism, providing a temporary escape from the discomfort associated with conditions like heightened anxiety. It may also serve as a tool to suppress haunting memories of past abuse, seemingly offering a better night's sleep. However, this is a fallacy, as daily alcohol use can detrimentally affect sleep quality, mainly due to the increased occurrence of sleep apnea among regular drinkers.

Signs of Self-Medicating with Alcohol 

When conventional treatments like antidepressants prove ineffective in addressing your mental health issues, there's a risk of turning to alcohol or other drugs for self-medication. While this may provide temporary relief from symptoms like depression and anxiety, it's far from an optimal long-term solution. How can you tell if your drinking habits are a form of self-medicating? 

Navigating life involves encountering stress and potentially challenging situations, and it's essential to adopt healthy strategies for managing stress in both the short term and the long term. If your immediate reaction to receiving bad news or facing daily setbacks is to drink alcohol, or if you find yourself craving alcohol during these situations, it could be a sign that you are relying on alcohol as a form of self-medication.

Contrary to the media stereotype that portrays people turning to heavy drinking in response to bad news, it's important to recognize that this is not a beneficial plan for your physical or mental health.

Engaging in a night out with friends often means enjoying a few drinks, and it's not uncommon to lose track of your alcohol intake amid socializing. However, if this becomes a regular occurrence where you consistently lose track of the amount of alcohol you're consuming, it may be indicative of a self-medicating pattern.

While it's known that alcohol affects memory, the issue escalates when daily consumption reaches a point where you can't recall the extent of your intake. This signifies a potential overindulgence, and such a habit can significantly impact your mental health in a negative way. Consistently losing awareness of your alcohol consumption may be a red flag, urging a closer look at the relationship between your drinking habits and their influence on your overall well-being.

The effects of alcohol on mental health extend beyond the expected feelings of depression the day after drinking. If you regularly consume alcohol and feel that you are moodier, angrier, or feel a deep depression daily that can shift unpredictably, it's essential to explore healthier alternatives for your mental well-being. 

Mood swings can be linked to alcohol addiction, serving as a potential signal that your mental health is deteriorating. Moreover, these fluctuations may also signify underlying liver or kidney issues. Recognizing the broader effects of alcohol on mental health is a crucial step in making informed choices for your overall well-being. 

A clear sign of self-medication with alcohol is experiencing cravings when you've abstained from drinking and encounter stress in life. Heavy alcohol consumption can result in withdrawal symptoms, including a strong desire for alcoholic beverages, which, in turn, can trigger anxiety. It's crucial to recognize that craving a substance during alcohol withdrawal, when you don't have it, may signify addiction, pointing to potential withdrawal effects.

Alternatively, if you're still consuming alcohol and find that you're developing a tolerance, it serves as another red flag. Tolerance suggests that your body has become accustomed to the substance, and this escalation may indicate the need to consider addiction treatment for addressing this issue. Paying attention to these signs is vital for understanding to address potential challenges related to alcohol use and mental health.

Individuals grappling with mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, often face disruptions in their social lives. However, the interplay between alcohol and mental health can negatively impact the lives of those around you, fracturing relationships and causing family members to distance themselves. This is painful but can be a clear sign that your alcohol and mental wellness are spiraling, and you should seek help from support groups or treatment programs. 

How Daydream MD Can Help

At Daydream MD, we understand that individuals with mental health issues and a family history of alcohol abuse may experience significant mental distress. Our approach involves utilizing psychedelic medicine, specifically intravenous ketamine treatment, to address the underlying issues exacerbating alcohol consumption and contributing to the challenging cycle. If you've found that conventional medications and treatments alone aren't effectively breaking the cycle of poor mental health and alcohol abuse, we encourage you to reach out to our team for support.

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