How Alcohol Addiction May Affect Mental Health

Alcohol happens to be the most preferred go-to thing for Americans, whether someone wants to de-stress after a long day at work or spending an evening with friends. Sadly, the booze is like a customary for most people. Despite being the leading cause of preventable deaths, alcohol is marketed openly and projected in the media as a positive substance.

Contrary to the popular belief, alcohol does more harm than good when consumed in large quantities over a prolonged period. It is known to cause numerous negative effects, ranging from memory loss and blackouts to a number of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. Since alcohol is a depressant, it can hamper the normal functioning of brain, affecting one’s thoughts, feelings and actions.

Evidently, alcohol addiction and poor mental health go hand in hand. For people who cannot live without alcohol every day, mental health issues are a common occurrence. At the same time, an individual dealing with a mental health condition like depression or anxiety is more likely to develop alcohol addiction in comparison to those who are not afflicted by any mental disorder. Precisely, when an individual deals with both a substance abuse problem and a mental disorder, he or she is known to have a co-occurring condition or dual diagnosis.

Here are some most common co-existing conditions, which can cause serious repercussions:

  1. Alcohol and anxiety: Alcohol often acts as a first resort to fight the symptoms of anxiety in a short run. But when the consumption of alcohol becomes a regular affair, it is likely that the symptoms of anxiety would worsen over time. Drinking heavily interferes with the healthy functioning of neurotransmitters present in the brain, which in turn has a negative impact on a person battling any mental health issue, such as anxiety, thus worsening the existing symptoms.
  2. Alcohol and depression: Alcohol is a depressant and therefore its regular consumption can make a person feel sad, low and extremely tired or uncomfortable. Moreover, consumption of alcohol over a prolonged period can worsen the existing depressive symptoms. However, for some people, the presence of anxiety or depression can prompt them to experiment with alcohol to relieve the symptoms. Clearly, alcohol and depression form a vicious cycle, which can eventually lead to self-harm, psychosis or even suicide.
  3. Alcohol and memory loss: Drinking alcohol occasionally as well as over a long period of time can cause memory loss. Actually, alcohol slows down the brain processes, which causes significant impairments to the memory. Heavy drinking impairs a person’s ability to remember or even recall things. It even puts the person at a risk of having poor health getting involved in anti-social activities.

Seeking treatment for dual diagnosis

Unlike a single problem of say an addiction or a mental condition, dual diagnosis needs comprehensive treatment. While an inpatient program may be comparatively more helpful for dual diagnosis, the availability of the latest tools and medications also increases the chances of overcoming the problem. However, it is important to seek medical help in case of addiction to any substance or occurrence of any mental disorder, or both.