Alcohol and Stress a Double-Edged Sword
Many people have long believed that a simple cocktail can help them relax, but the link between alcohol and stress is really a double-edged sword. Acute stress is believed to hasten alcoholic drinking. However, the ways in which severe stress can actually increase the consumption of alcohol are not yet clear.
A recent report on Doctor NDTV suggests that alcohol can dampen the negative emotional or physical effects of stress. The research involved 25 healthy males who were asked to perform a public speaking assignment that was known to increase stress and to complete a non-stressful assignment to compare it against.
After completion, the first male study group received alcohol administered intravenously, equivalent to two normal drinks and a placebo, while the other group received them in the opposite order, with the placebo first. Both groups were monitored to test their anxiety levels.
The results showed a multifaceted interaction between stress and alcohol, meaning it lowered the hormonal reaction to stress but prolonged the negative experience of the situation that was skewed while the stress lowered the enjoyable aspects of the alcohol. The conclusion: Using alcohol to manage your stress may in fact make matters worse.
The study further showed that stress may change the way we feel when drinking alcohol and cause us to drink more. Drinking more to relieve stress or tension may ultimately make you feel worse and prolong your stress.
Our stress response can actually benefit us because it helps us react to unpleasant events. If we alter the way our body handles stress, we may in turn be increasing the chances of later developing a stress-induced disease that possibly leads to alcohol addiction. Using alcohol to cope with stress may, in fact, only add to your problems and extend your recovery period from the initial stressor.