Why People Self-Medicate With Alcohol

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Anyone over the age of 21 has access to alcohol. Many people casually enjoy a beer or a glass of wine during a social gathering or event. For those over the age of 35, alcohol is likely something you have been around for a long time, and it has become a very common thing to see when you are out.

Unfortunately, many people take advantage of the readily available access to alcohol, sometimes unintentionally drinking to help themselves self-medicate for underlying issues.

Drinking Alcohol to Self-Medicate

There is a large group of people who choose alcohol instead of seeking professional help. Alcohol is a very commonly used substance around the world. Depending on how often you consume, it can have some mild, moderate, or severe effects. While you’re drinking alcohol, it can help you feel relaxed or joyful, sometimes even giving you a euphoric feeling. These effects are usually why people run to this substance to self-medicate when they are battling things like depression, anxiety, unresolved emotions, or even a physical problem.

The Harmful Effects of Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol is never a solution for the problems, but some people treat it as an escape. However, alcohol impairs many cognitive functions that are supposed to help you properly deal with these issues. Many alcohol consumers believe that alcohol will not harm their physical health, but the effects can happen with just one binging episode. Alcohol can damage your heart, liver, stomach, even weakening your immune system.

Outside of the physical problems, heavy alcohol consumption can hurt your social relationships. This is especially relevant for those who have extreme rage, violent behavior, or depression while they are under the influence. Over time, users can become consumed by their desire to drink, placing alcohol over everything else in their life.

Attempting to Solve Problems With Alcohol

In many situations, people start drinking to feel better, using it as a tool to treat mood issues like anxiety or depression. This feeling can make someone think like they need to change who they are to improve their mood in the current moment. When people are in a bad mood, they often turn to alcohol to alleviate their issues.

Self-medicating is a very short-lived solution that can make your mood even worse when you are finally sober. The chances of self-medicating individual drinking again are high, which can eventually become a more frequent cycle of self-medicating with alcohol to help with moods.

Trauma and Underlying Mental Health Issues

Traumatic events like death, abuse, or tragic accidents can lead to people looking for a way to cope. Those who have experienced traumatic events like this may have difficulties sleeping, and they may use alcohol as a means to forget the trauma or to aid in their sleep.

One of the more common self-medicating uses for alcohol is for stress. In general, many people experience a great deal of stress associated with the pressure to be successful or live up to everyone else’s expectations. This pressure can contribute to people believing that they do not have the means to relax without using alcohol. Regardless of the reasons, alcohol consumption does not have any long-lasting solutions to any of these problems.

How to Help Those Who Self-Medicate

It’s not easy to realize that you or someone you love has a dependency on alcohol. Some believe that they have their drinking under control because they only drink in social settings that involve casual drinking. Many people do not realize that they have a problem. They may not understand how much alcohol they are actually consuming or how often they are drinking.

Here are some signs of using alcohol to self-medicate:

  • Drinking under stress
  • Drinking every day after work
  • Drinking while under emotional duress
  • Drinking when you are not happy
  • Drinking after conflict

Coping Without Alcohol

There are plenty of options that do not involve alcohol that can be used when deciding to cope with stress, anxiety, and depression. Before anything, it is important to take care of your problems instead of trying to run away from them. Until your problems are solved or completely understood, they may continue to return.

If stress is your issue, you can try exercising or yoga as a means to relax and escape. Any type of physical activity like walking, jogging, or hiking can help you get rid of any built-up negative energy you have inside. These options prepare you to handle your problems with a clear mind.


If you or a loved one uses alcohol to self-medicate for anxiety, stress, or depression, then it may be time to seek help. Attempting to solve your problems with alcohol is only a temporary fix to issues that could be long-term. Running to alcohol could even be the beginning of some serious long-term issues. There are plenty of ways to cope with stress, depression, and anxiety, like meditation, yoga, running, or hiking. These activities can help relieve you of your innermost conflicts. People are often afraid to discuss their problems because of the fear of judgment, which is why it is important to create a safe space for anyone you believe is struggling with some form of alcohol abuse. Facilities like The Kimberly Center can help you or your loved one get the help they need to get sober. Contact us at (855) 452-3683 to discuss how we can help you and your family.


Kimberly Center Staff
Kimberly Center Staff
Publishing account for ADDICTION RECOVERY

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