Drinking is often associated with anxiety, but for many people it is a simple way to relieve stress and cope with social anxieties.
Alcohol is not only a simple, relaxing drink to take with food, it can be used as a form of relaxation, says the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) programme.
This is because it can relieve anxiety and increase self-esteem, says Dr Chris Riddell, a clinical psychologist and founder of AA’s Alcoholics Support Network (ASN).
There are also psychological benefits for people struggling with alcohol dependence.
“There are a number of people who don’t drink, but their behaviour has changed,” he says.
What’s more, the more help you get, the less likely you are to drink, says Mr Riddells. “
If you’re struggling with a problem, it’s worth seeking help, and then having the right support available for you.”
What’s more, the more help you get, the less likely you are to drink, says Mr Riddells.
Alcoholics need support and help for social anxiety, depression, anxiety and self-harm and for dealing with alcohol abuse.
They may also need professional help.
Alcohol-related social anxiety disorders have a range of symptoms, including worry, anger, confusion and feelings of shame.
It is associated with an increased risk of suicide, poor social skills, anxiety, and substance misuse.
For some people, alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence can cause feelings of isolation, lack of trust, anger and even suicidal thoughts.
But, as alcohol-related conditions have become more common, the number of Australians who are drinking has risen.
There is no national data on alcohol-induced alcohol-use disorders, but the number in Australia has increased from around 14 per cent in 2004 to nearly 25 per cent last year.
This increase has been largely driven by increasing alcohol-impaired driving, with more people being involved in crashes.
Some of the factors that have led to an increase in alcohol-associated alcohol-dependence include a change in drinking patterns, increased use of social media and new, more popular, alcohol-based drinks, such as the black market.
This also leads to increased drinking, says Riddels.
Alcohol can also be used to cope with anxiety and depression, and reduce the fear that comes with drinking, by reducing the anxiety.
“People can also use alcohol to cope if they are experiencing a stressful situation, such the death of a loved one or a family member,” says Dr Riddel.
“This can include a person having panic attacks or feeling anxious or distressed, and feeling they can’t cope with it,” he adds.
People can also drink alcohol to relax, says a new study by the Alcohol Research Centre (ARC) in Adelaide.
“It can be a simple solution, such it may be to take a glass of wine or beer and sip on it, or a glassful of tea, to help reduce anxiety and stress,” says ARC alcohol research director Dr Michael O’Connor.
The new study also looked at how the use of alcohol affects a person’s ability to control alcohol consumption.
Alcohol consumption increased among people who were more anxious, stressed and alcohol-dependent.
Dr O’Donnell says that may be because alcohol increases the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter which has been linked to alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
“When a person is anxious, they can feel stressed and anxious and are less likely to drink,” he explains.
So, it is possible that when they drink, they are actually drinking more and are increasing the amount of dopamine they are releasing,” Dr O`Donnell adds.