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Quirky Jessi

Turning to alcohol

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This is not about me, but rather a friend of mine.

She swears by having a drink or two, for example, when she starts freaking out or can't get out of her own head. While I understand being stressed, it also has me really worried. She doesn't seem to do it -too- often, but I'm afraid instead of learning how to deal with her anxiety, getting professional counseling or medication, etc....that she's just going to turn to alcohol more and more.

I have expressed concern before, but she brushes it off and says people do this all the time and that she doesn't want to be on a medication long term when she's handling it fine like this. After all, plenty of our friends go out binge drinking on the weekends and that's considered acceptable, right? I don't want to end up pushing her away by pushing the subject more, so what do you think? If she only does it occasionally or doesn't constantly go overboard, is it really so bad? Or is this a time where I should really push because she's leaning on booze when there's an actual problem?

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I know people that drink to cope with social situations that make them anxious. They often drink a lot, but at the same time they are the type that just like to drink to have fun, so it is not necessarily always about the anxiety. They do not necessarily seek out alcohol, but rather if it is there to buy or offered to them they are going to have it.

I think it can sometimes be hard to determine whether it really is a problem or not, especially if it is only a drink or two occasionally. While there certainly are other ways to cope, I am of the thinking that if you already have something that works and you are not always getting totally drunk then why not have a little bit of a buzz and actually enjoy stuff. However, I am mainly talking about social anxiety, as for some a little bit can help them do more. Drinking for other anxiety reasons can seem counterproductive and sometimes actually avoiding the issue.

That said I actually do not drink more than a glass of wine every once in a while because the idea of drinking more than that actually causes me more anxiety.

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You'll know when her drinking becomes a problem when it starts causing problems at home. I would say don't nag, but keep your eyes open. If it seems like she's starting to use alcohol as a constant crutch, and it's affecting other areas of her life, she may be progressing toward problem-drinking. The only thing you can do at that point is offer your support - there are a lot of options out there for people who want help. I've posted before that my husband uses alcohol to self-medicate, and drinks everyday. I wish he wouldn't, but it's a tedious situation because he doesn't usually drink to get drunk, so I've been pretty much just living with it. If it ever gets to the point where it's unmanageable and he's drinking more than just to relax, the ball will be in my court to figure what I will do. It's a tough call, and a very common problem.

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I have a hard time giving advice on this since I'm pretty opposed to drinking as a way to deal with some issues, but I know that a lot of people do it without going overboard. I'm just a little biased since my husband is a recovering alcoholic and life was too bad for me to even find words to describe it. I can't in good conscience say that it's okay to do, but I don't really feel like I have a place to give advice on it.

What I can say is that it's a problem when it becomes their escape. Alcohol sometimes causes you to go through a vicious cycle. You feel better when you've been drinking which can make sober times seem that much worse. Eventually, you just keep drinking because that has become your new normal. It's bad news :(

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We all have our comfort foods or security blankets whenever we are anxious or stressed out. Some people see alcohol that way. I think a glass or two is normal but too much of it especially if it poses problems to her environment and significant others, should not be tolerated. Help your friend explore some other ways to cope up with anxiety.

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I guess if a drink or two fixes it, then that's probably not soooo bad. But what happens when you get stressed or panicked 8 times a day? You going to have 16 drinks or 20 or 25 a day? Most panickers when they are acutely symptomatic can have several episodes daily and to drink a couple of drinks would be too much. Not to mention, for every drink, you're just delaying addressing the problem. I hope your friend sees a better way . :)

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This is the problem, getting drunk at the weekend or even on a weekday is socially acceptable, this blurs the boundaries between social drinking and drinking to medicate oneself. Clandestine self-medication can easily be disguised in this socially accepted environment where most people are drinking. Does the person who has a few glasses of wine to destress after work have a drink problem? I would say yes, but society would say no.

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