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The Relationship Between Anxiety and Alcohol

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Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) affects over 6 million adults in the U.S. population. And with people’s daily lives becoming more demanding, this number is likely to rise. 

In times of crisis, people often escape their problems through substances. One of the most common is alcohol, and it can become very addictive. 

This article explores the links between anxiety and alcohol. 

We will cover what anxiety is and how it may occur. Then we will discuss why people might use alcohol when coping with anxiety. Finally, we talk about treatment options for recovery from anxiety-related alcoholism.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is when people feel worried or fearful, or a general feeling of unease. People may feel things with different intensities from mild to severe.

It is normal that everyone feels these things sometimes. But the difference with an anxiety disorder is the prolonged and intense feelings. It may start to affect your relationships, your work, or the things you enjoy doing.

Anxiety is more of a general term for several disorders. Some of the most common conditions are:

  • Panic Disorder
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Phobias of different kinds

Some signs of anxiety are heavy or fast breathing, dizziness, and increased heart rate. It may also cause problems with concentration and with sleep. But this can vary depending on the type of anxiety you have.

The Link Between Alcohol and Anxiety

Alcohol abuse and anxiety are often known as “co-occurring” disorders. This means that people who have an existing condition are more likely to develop a second or third issue. 

Alcohol use is linked to anxiety in many ways. Let’s take a look at a few areas in more detail.


“Hangxiety” is the colloquial term for hangover anxiety. This is where you feel anxious about what you have said or done whilst drinking alcohol. The anxiety often stems from forgetting what they said or did.

Alcohol also makes us feel more relaxed, due to a rush of Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA). GABA has an important role in the nervous system, influencing our balance, movements, and thoughts. This means people are more likely to do things they wouldn’t usually do and may regret them.

Difficulty Socializing

It is often the case that people who are shy or introverted may be more prone to using alcohol. They may use it to feel more confident in social situations and need it to feel part of a social circle. 

Also, they may begin to feel anxious when not drinking during social occasions. They may see themselves as less interesting or funny without it. Over time, alcohol can reduce your ability to deal with stress, so you become dependent on needing it.

Forgetting the Past

Another common reason people with anxiety use alcohol is to forget. If someone is struggling with PTSD, alcohol can help them forget the stress.

The problem is that this doesn’t help to deal with the problem, it only delays the response. Often, with time the alcohol loses its potency. So they end up struggling with both an alcohol dependency and bad memories. 

Treatment Options

The good news is that both alcoholism and anxiety are both treatable. Many people can make a full recovery and start living their best life.

Getting sober and reducing your anxiety will be a long journey. But using a rehabilitation recovery program can help you understand yourself better.

There are several routes you could choose to take when getting sober. The most effective is using alcohol treatment centers in San Diego. These facilities have different programs to treat both anxiety and alcohol dependency. 

For those who need more intensive support, there are detox programs available. There are also inpatient residential programs designed specifically for alcohol.

These programs can involve different types of therapy, such as one-to-one, group therapy, and family/couples therapy.

Family therapy is especially important, as alcohol dependence can cause issues at home. If you can repair and build on the support network at home, you are more likely to remain sober after finishing. The idea is that they prepare you to return to your life without constant worry or dependency.

The programs will also teach you skills on how to cope with difficult situations. It may also give you an opportunity to try new passions and give you the confidence to push your comfort zone.

The Partial Hospitalization Program is a good option for people wanting to stay at home during rehab. Patients are able to go home at night and work with their families outside of program hours.

Intensive outpatient programs are also available. These are designed so that people can maintain working hours alongside their treatment.

Understanding Anxiety and Alcohol

Anxiety and alcohol have a deep connection which can cause a lot of problems in people’s lives. Because they have a cyclical relationship, it is best to treat both parts with great care. The best option is to use a rehab facility, as this supports you through recovery. 

Apex Recovery Center is ready to help when you decide to reach out. Our San Diego alcohol rehabilitation center has purpose-built facilities and specialists on staff. It provides a calm and supportive environment so that you can return to your best self. 

Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you on the way to recovery. We are one of the best rehab centers in San Diego and we will be here to support you all the way.

Call Our Toll-Free Hotline 24/7 at 877.881.2689