Should I Avoid Alcohol During Recovery From Anxiety Disorder And Hyperstimulation?

Written by Jim Folk
Last updated April 12, 2022

Follow us on YouTube

We regularly post helpful and informative videos. Subscribe now!
Subscribe

---------- Advertisement - Article Continues Below ----------


---------- Advertisement Ends ----------

Video Transcript

I’ve been suffering with high anxiety for several months. I started counseling 3 weeks ago, and I feel it is slowly helping. However, I’m afraid to tell my therapist that I drink 4 cans of beer every night. Is this amount of alcohol every night making my anxiety worse and slowing my progress?

Unfortunately, yes, consuming that amount of alcohol every night can make your anxiety worse and interfere with your recovery from anxiety disorder and hyperstimulation.

There are many reasons for this. We explain these reasons in chapter 4 in the Recovery Support area of our website under the section “Alcohol.”

However, to answer your question, here are a few reasons to consider:
 
First, anxiety has a dramatic effect on the nervous system. As such, anxiety can hyperstimulate the nervous system. Hyperstimulation is one of the main reasons for persistent anxiety symptoms.

You can learn more about how anxiety causes hyperstimulation, and how hyperstimulation can cause persistent symptoms, at our website. The links are in the comments.
 
Alcohol also dramatically affects the nervous system. The combination of anxiety and alcohol can punish the nervous system, interfering with your recovery and making you feel much worse overall.

Second, while you might feel better while drinking alcohol because small amounts of alcohol increase GABA, the neurotransmitter primarily responsible for calming the body, higher amounts of alcohol increase cortisol, one of the body’s most powerful stress hormone stimulants.

Since chronic stimulation is one of the main reasons the body becomes hyperstimulated and symptomatic, consuming alcohol each night will keep your body hyperstimulated and symptomatic, again, interfering with your recovery and even making you feel worse.

Third, research has shown that regular alcohol consumption can keep cortisol levels elevated during the day rather than tapering off under normal conditions.

Again, since cortisol is a powerful stimulant, chronically elevated cortisol will keep your body hyperstimulated and symptomatic, certainly interfering with recovery and symptom elimination.

And fourth, alcohol can set up a negative cycle where:

  • Anxious behavior stresses the body.
  • A body that becomes stressed can produce symptoms.
  • Worrying about symptoms will keep the body stressed and symptomatic.
  • Alcohol will keep your body stimulated and symptomatic.
  • Fretting about your persistent symptoms further stresses the body, causing it to remain symptomatic.
  • Alcohol keeps cortisol levels elevated, and the body stimulated, causing symptoms to persist.
  • Worrying about your persistent symptoms stresses the body, causing symptoms to persist.

And so on.

These four factors alone can interfere with your recovery and even make you feel worse overall.

For these reasons and more, we recommend avoiding alcohol while in recovery from anxiety disorder and hyperstimulation.

Once your body has recovered, you can consider resuming alcohol consumption. But for now, it’s wise to avoid alcohol until your body has recovered and stabilized.

---------- Advertisement - Article Continues Below ----------


---------- Advertisement Ends ----------

The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – which we call the underlying factors of anxiety – a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to address problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources

Return to our Anxiety Frequent Questions archive.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including this Frequently Asked Anxiety Question.