How Does Alcohol Affect Your Mental Health?

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How Does Alcohol Affect Your Mental Health?

SAMHSA’s mission is to lead public health and service delivery efforts that promote mental health, prevent substance misuse, and provide treatments and supports to foster recovery while ensuring equitable access and better outcomes. Roughly one third of individuals struggling with alcohol abuse also suffer from a mental illness. It is not uncommon for an addiction to alcohol to also come with a mental health dual-diagnosis. While the answer to this question can be a little tricky, it’s an important one to answer, especially for those who might be in a position where they need help for either alcoholism, mental health issues, or both. Let’s take a look at that question and talk about some of the ways you or someone you know can get help for alcoholism.

A Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation publication discusses the prevalence of co-occurring alcohol or substance use disorders with other mental disorders, and which are most commonly comorbid. Alcohol use increases depression, anxiety, and stress, which can trigger depressive and other mental disorders. The production of this chemical often reinforces behaviors, both healthy and unhealthy.

Dual diagnosis programs

Although often referred to as dually diagnosed, these people typically are impaired by several additional problems, including abuse of drugs other than alcohol, general medical illnesses, and legal problems. This group also has histories of trauma and behavioral disorders, deficient social and vocational skills, and support networks that include people involved in alcohol and other drug (AOD) abuse or other illegal behavior. Rather than thinking in terms of cause-and-effect, it’s helpful to view the co-occurring nature of these conditions.

is alcoholism a mental illness

At FHE Health, we’re committed to treating the full range of illnesses and getting patients back to long-term health, whether their struggles began or worsened when they drink alcohol. Our treatment program is designed to support the physical and mental health of those suffering beyond their mental illness. As a way to distract from intrusive thoughts or behaviors, some individuals with OCD turn to alcohol. Instead of helping a person relax and escape their fears, drinking actually makes OCD symptoms worse. Relying on alcohol as a method to self-treat OCD can quickly turn into a dangerous addiction. Without proper treatment, co-occurring alcoholism and OCD can come with a lifetime of consequences, including health complications and emotional troubles.

What to Know About Alcohol and Mental Health

In fact, once it gets to a point where it is a real problem, many people have trouble pinpointing when exactly their drinking became an issue. When these three parts of the brain are disrupted, it significantly increases the desire for the person to drink alcohol, increases their feelings of stress, and reduces impulse control. Acknowledging that you have a problem with substance abuse and addiction can be incredibly difficult.

is alcoholism a mental illness

Research from 2019 suggests social support as well as building self-efficacy and a sense of meaning can help reduce rates of AUD recurrence, and mental health care often fills this role. But in 1956, the AMA officially designated alcoholism as a disease, meaning people should be hospitalized and treated for the condition. The AMA emphasized that in the case of alcoholism https://www.excel-medical.com/5-tips-to-consider-when-choosing-a-sober-living-house/ (as opposed to intoxication), the person did not have control over their alcohol use. Mental health treatment often focuses on and exploration of a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors, focusing on ways to improve those feelings through one-on-one counseling or group therapy. This type of treatment often includes medication paired with psychotherapy.

Impact of Alcohol on Mental Health

Just make sure your group is accepting of the idea of co-occurring disorders and psychiatric medication. Some people in these groups, although well meaning, may mistake taking psychiatric medication as another form of addiction. Once you are sober and you feel better, you might think you no longer need medication or treatment. But arbitrarily stopping medication or treatment is a common reason for relapse in people with co-occurring disorders. Always talk with your doctor before making any changes to your medication or treatment routine. To help you spot the signs of a substance abuse problem, answering the following questions may help.

Does your brain crave alcohol?

More simply, our brains begin to regulate themselves with alcohol. Without it, the brain makes chemical demands and requests for alcohol. For the cue-induced craving, it has to do with memory. Alcohol and other drugs flood our brain with reward chemicals like dopamine.

All these changes in the brain can contribute to the emergence of a comorbid psychiatric condition. The WHO calls alcoholism “a term of long-standing use and variable meaning”, and use of the term was disfavored by a 1979 WHO expert committee. Even after formal treatment ends, many people seek additional support through continued involvement in such groups. A lack of sleep can exacerbate stress, anxiety, and depression, so try to get 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep a night. Exercise is a natural way to bust stress, relieve anxiety, and improve your mood and outlook. To achieve the maximum benefit, aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on most days.

Consequently, clinicians should pay attention to any current AOD use, even if there appear to be no harmful consequences. Furthermore, clinicians should pay attention to reports of clients’ past AOD-related problems, because the clients are more likely to report past use than current use (Barry et al. 1995). Conversely, dually diagnosed patients who achieve abstinence appear to experience better prognoses and more positive adjustment, including improved psychiatric symptoms and decreased rates of hospitalization.

Mental illnesses are disorders that affect your mood, thinking, and behavior. Alcohol affects the pleasure, reward, and motivation centers in the human brain. Excessive alcohol use alters brain chemistry and leads to physical, psychological, and social dysfunction. Substance use disorder (SUD) is a broader term that includes drug abuse and alcohol abuse. SUD and AUD are behavioral health conditions that can benefit from treatment by addiction medicine experts. One reason for this increased risk appears to be that dually diagnosed clients often are excluded from housing and treatment programs designated specifically for people with single disorders (Drake et al. 1991).

Long-Term Risks of Alcohol Dependence

An estimated 24 percent of people with OCD also suffer from a substance use disorder, including alcohol abuse. Alcohol consumption is common in this country with drinks being consumed at home, in restaurants and bars, and at social gatherings and public venues of all types. For many people, drinking alcohol is something they do occasionally and with the ability to control how often and how much they consume.

  • Additionally, you should make sure that the program has experience with your particular mental health issue.
  • But as you continue to drink, you become drowsy and have less control over your actions.
  • A person suffering from a mental illness may use alcohol to dull certain emotions, or to lift their mood.
  • In this article, we will answer the question — Is alcohol misuse a mental illness or chronic disease?

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