Dry January: the Impact of Alcoholism on Mental Health
Dry January might just be the solution to cutting down on your alcohol consumption. There are many reasons as to why the next person drinks; whether it’s to forget about their worries, have fun with their friends, to celebrate or as a way of relaxing. These are only a couple of examples, but even some light weekend drinking can quickly spiral out of control. Excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to many mental health issues, and so it is only imperative that we learn to control our alcohol intake.
People who suffer from alcohol issues may be using alcohol as a form of ‘self-medication’ in an attempt to help cheer themselves up or sleep. Others might have taken a few drinks with friends too far and make it a daily occurrence. Whatever has led you to alcoholism, there is a way out; with the right determination, support and honesty, you can teach your mind to not rely on it. Keep reading to learn more about alcoholism and how you can overcome your desire to drink.
Depression and Alcoholism
Dry January is a pledge not to drink alcohol in January, and anyone can get involved; casual day drinkers, party lovers or even more severe drinkers. Although this is another version of going cold turkey, sometimes this is the best solution. December is usually a hectic month for celebrating, so taking January off can help to balance out your consumption.
However, not everyone can make this commitment, especially when alcohol is abused to suppress emotions, help somebody sleep or a version of self-medication; in these cases, stopping in January will be a tougher task than they may have expected.
Alcohol is a depressant which lowers inhibition, and excessive consumption of it can disrupt our body’s ability to rest, making it harder for our body to break down the alcohol in our system. As the alcohol interferes with our sleeping pattern, this will cause us to have a reduction in energy levels; leaving us tired and sluggish.
Alcohol also affects the central nervous system, making our moods fluctuate; so, it’s seemingly easy for an alcoholic to go from happy to angry at the drop of a hat. It ‘numbs’ our emotions so that we can ignore and avoid difficult situations. Alcohol also has a tendency to reveal or resurface memories, trauma or underlying events that we have tried to forget; thus, having the ability to cause significant mental stress, anxiety and depression. Re-living these memories can be difficult and cause you to drink more in an attempt to forget them, trapping you in a vicious circle.
The After Effects of Alcohol on Your Mood
A significant problem associated with alcoholism is its impact on mental health. Regular consumption of alcohol changes the chemistry of the brain; decreasing the levels of the brain chemical serotonin which is a critical chemical in the control of depression. Then, because we are feeling depressed, we think drinking more alcohol will boost our mood and repress the depressive thoughts and feelings. And so, a detrimental cycle is born.
So, how can we find a solution to this? Alcoholism revolves around this cycle of drinking to feel better, but instead, feeling worse, leading us only to drink more again. It’s cruel and hard to overcome and for many, it might seem easier to give in to the temptation. But, by making Dry January the first stepping stone on the road to recovery, you can say goodbye to that circle.
Join an AA Group
An AA group isn’t just something that you’ve seen in TV and film as a good premise for a drama or comedy; in fact, it is a great way to connect with people who are going through the same struggles as you. An AA group allows you to open up about your journey, while also getting support and advice from others.
It can sometimes be hard to open up about your alcohol issues to your friends and family as they might not understand the problem at hand or because you are simply ashamed of your actions. AA groups give you a safe, judgemental-free environment to talk about how you’re feeling.
Speak to a Therapist for Your Alcoholism
If you think you could benefit from one-on-one support then therapy is a great way to acknowledge the causes and find a solution. You will again be in a safe, confidential setting that’ll allow you to open up about your alcohol issues and why you started excessively drinking in the first place. With only one person listening to you, this can make it easier for you to dig deep into the issue.
With a better understanding of why you drink, a therapist can then help you to understand how alcohol is taking an even bigger toll on your life, and work with you to come up with a solution.
Are you thinking of taking part in dry January? Check out my website to learn more about my services as a therapist and how I can help you overcome your alcoholism. You shouldn’t let alcohol define your life, but instead, take the steps detailed above and look towards a brighter future.