Article At A Glance:
Dealing with stress can be an overwhelming and somewhat daunting picture to manage, and when you throw alcohol into the mix, it can be difficult to cope.
The relationship between alcohol addiction and stress can be complex, and understanding both is crucial in managing addiction and reducing the impact on early sobriety.
In this article, we’ll explore the impact of stress on alcohol addiction, discuss how stress impacts early sobriety, and some alcohol-free strategies to manage stress.
Let’s dive in.
How Does Stress Impact Alcohol Addiction?
Stress is multifactorial, and when it comes to alcohol addiction, both are fairly intertwined.
For example, we encounter stress from things such as work, lifestyle or diet, and often when we experience high levels of stress, we can sometimes turn to alcohol to cope.
This is especially common in parenting, where stress often fluctuates.
Read my article on Sober Parenting: 4 Things I Learned While Parenting in Sobriety.
Studies show alcohol use actually leads to an increase in stress levels, and then as a result, we drink more to cope with the added stress (Sinha, 2008). This is the classic example of using alcohol to manage stress, which ultimately fuels alcohol addiction.
On top of this, a vicious cycle of stress and alcohol often creates feelings of anxiety, which is often a result of imbalances in various neurotransmitters.
Read more on Alcohol and Anxiety: Understanding The Connection and Finding Relief
How Does Stress Impact Early Sobriety?
Allowing stress to run rampant in our lives, especially when we’re going through early sobriety, can make it harder to stay on track.
Stress contributes to higher levels of anxiety, and greater emotional distress, both of which can contribute to higher cravings and increased alcohol relapse risk (Sinha, 2012).
Side note – Cravings are often inevitable in early sobriety, this is why I created 10 Simple Tips to Keep in Mind When Cravings Get Tough, I recommend having a read!
Early-childhood trauma, also a form of stress, has been associated with the development of alcohol dependence. This means even individuals with significant early-life stress may be more susceptible to using alcohol as a coping mechanism ( Stress and Alcohol, 2011).
Strategies to Manage Stress and Support Early Sobriety
That all being said, managing stress is crucial for individuals with alcohol addiction, or who are looking to really support their sober journey. Here are some strategies to manage stress without turning to alcohol:
Side note – Some of these tips are part of my core essentials in tackling cravings and staying accountable.
- Get Active: Exercise is a great way to reduce stress levels. It can help to release endorphins, which are natural mood boosters that shift our minds into a more positive state.
- Mindfulness Practice: Practicing mindfulness techniques, such as meditation or yoga, can help to reduce stress levels and improve overall well-being.
- Staying Connected: This is also known as accountability, a big one for sobriety. Joining a support group, or community can create a good environment to discuss challenges and share experiences.
- Magnesium Supplementation: Sometimes, finding a good supplement, such as a good Magnesium formula, can help lower those stress levels on those tougher days.
Stress and alcohol addiction are closely linked, and understanding this connection is crucial towards managing alcohol addiction in early sobriety.
Using alcohol as a way to cope with stress can have severe consequences on a person’s physical and mental health, and really just isn’t a sustainable way to hit that end goal, which is to get sober.
Strategies such as exercise, mindfulness, therapy, and support groups can help to manage stress without turning to alcohol.
Always keep in mind though, Seeking professional help can also be important for individuals with alcohol addiction. Remember, it is never too late to seek help and start on the road to recovery.
If you have any feedback regarding this article, reach out. Help Clarity reach more people and quit addiction by following us on Instagram, it’s also the perfect place to message us and ask questions!
Get the “Sober Tips” Newsletter in your inbox today.
A rapidly growing email list that provides the highest quality FREE sober resources and tips to live an addiction-free life, without limits.
Absolutely no spam. Just quality information to help you live your most limitless sober life.
- Publications | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism | Stress and Alcohol. (2011). Nih.gov. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arcr344/408-413.htm
- Sinha, R. (2008). Chronic Stress, Drug Use, and Vulnerability to Addiction. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1141(1), 105–130. https://doi.org/10.1196/annals.1441.030
- Sinha, R. (2012). How does stress lead to risk of alcohol relapse? Alcohol Research : Current Reviews, 34(4), 432–440. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3788822/
Former drinker, Nutritionist, Biohacking enthusiast, self-experimenter, research fanatic, and self-taught writer, Stephen immerses himself deep into the literature of human optimisation and better understand the nature of addiction. His goal is to help people take control of their addiction, reset their cravings, unscramble their broken brain circuitry and use actionable strategies that work ten times better than anything else.