Drinking alcohol to cope with stress, anxiety, and life challenges is a form of self-medication. Although the thought process behind self-medication is “I’m doing this to help that,” this pattern of behavior is unhelpful, and ultimately, a bad idea. In addition to masking and denying reality, self-medication can lead to addiction and relapse. The good news is you can stop self-medicating with alcohol. Here’s how.
Instead of responding to life’s challenges with alcohol, you can:
You probably feel most prone to self-medicating with alcohol when you’re having a tough time. When you feel like this, participating in activities you enjoy can help relieve stress and calm your mind. Reading, writing, listening to music, creating art, fishing, cooking, gardening, dancing, or playing a board or video game can help produce cathartic feelings that can protect your wellbeing. You can also try different hobbies to find what speaks to you and protects your peace.
Dealing with negative emotions can make you feel like you need a drink, but try exercise instead. Exercise helps your body release endorphins, or hormones that help relieve stress and diminish the perception of pain. Endorphins can also improve your mood and help your body produce feelings of pleasure. The type of exercise you choose is up to you but some of the most common options include:
Self-medication is an unhealthy way of coping with difficulties. Luckily, there are healthier ways of coping with life’s challenges. For example, when you feel like you need a drink, you can:
Despite what you might think, alcohol isn’t useful or helpful in making you feel better. Until you come to accept this fact, you will likely continue to use alcohol to self-medicate. Fortunately, therapy can help change your inaccurate views and thoughts about alcohol. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), for example, can help you identify and change harmful thoughts into healthier patterns of thinking. When this happens, your feelings about your situation can change, which can lead to healthier patterns of behavior. Therapy can also help you work through the issues that triggered self-medication in the first place and teach you new healthier ways of coping.
Using alcohol to cope with stress, anxiety, and challenges may seem harmless, but that pattern of behavior can easily lead to alcohol abuse and addiction. The stress, anxiety, and difficulties you’re dealing with may not go away, but there’s a better way to live. Instead of turning to alcohol when you’re down and out, frustrated, and overwhelmed, you can:
Alcohol doesn’t have to continue to rule your life. Our wide range of treatment programs can help you reclaim your life and give up alcohol for good. Contact us today to learn more.