It is no longer news that excessive alcohol intake is detrimental to one’s health. Alcohol poses some risks that could lead to health consequences and dependence, requiring you to enter into a rehab programme.
While alcohol is majorly used to temporarily lift your spirit, suppress social anxiety, and boost your confidence, excessive consumption could totally disrupt your mental wellbeing. And for someone already dealing with mental health issues, matters could get pretty worse.
How does alcohol affect your brain?
Without the influence of any drugs or intoxicants, the brain maintains a chemical and function balance. However, your brain can be thrown off balance once alcohol enters the system.
For one, the neurotransmitter that transmits signals from one neuron or nerve to another begins to malfunction, making you feel less coordinated. It increases the functions of the inhibitory neurotransmitters and suppresses the excitatory neurotransmitters, which means that your thought process, muscle movements, and speech will slow down, and you could get highly clumsy.
Drinking also increases the release of dopamine in the brain’s reward center. Continuous intake could lead to the compulsive need to continue consumption, whether or not there’s a dopamine release.
It gets a lot more challenging to control negative emotions when intoxicated. Alcohol reduces serotonin levels in your brain and makes it impossible to regulate your mood.
After the first few glasses, drinking alcohol only brings pleasurable feelings, but regular intake will gradually worsen the case.
The connection between alcohol and your mental health
People dealing with a range of mental health issues may sometimes be compelled to use alcohol to ease their mental stress. In the long run, however, the brain chemistry change only worsens it.
Regular intake of alcohol can negatively impact your well-being. For example, heavy drinkers are more likely to creep into depression, deal with anxiety slowly, and are usually crowded with suicidal thoughts.
There is a high chance that you become more dependent on alcohol as you resort to it to suppress the mental issues you deal with. And when you try to stop, you begin to feel sick and resort to drinking again to help you feel better – this could lead to an increase in the symptoms of pre-existing mental health conditions and an endless cycle if not adequately dealt with.
Are you drinking too much alcohol?
There’s a high probability that you’re alcohol dependent if you do any of this:
- You feel empty when you don’t drink.
- You drink alcohol in the morning.
- You drink to get some sleep.
- You have trouble socialising without taking a drink first.
- You feel like you drink too much and need to reduce your intake.
How to control your intake
It is never too late to cut back on your alcohol intake. There are specific changes you can make to overcome your alcohol misuse:
- Monitor your drinking and drink pattern.To reduce the impact of alcohol, don’t consume more than 14 units a week. Also, avoid hanging around with people who increase your urge to drink.
- Talk to a specialist. Your doctor can help with medications or help create a plan that helps reduce your alcohol intake. They can also refer you to a specialist if needed.
Cutting out alcohol is a lot easier when you have some help. Hang around with people who make you feel good and talk to a professional as often as possible.
Adam Mulligan did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.
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