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clock_iconJune 09, 2020 clock_icon9 min read

Why alcohol and drugs do not help in stressful situations

Since ancient times, in various cultures, it has been believed that a drink has a calming effect on the nerves.

Today, the whole world is under stress from the threats of COVID19. Following the old logic, we should all turn to alcohol and drugs for help. The idea is completely absurd – which most people understand. But unfortunately, not everyone is able to be reasonable under stress. Especially, it is difficult for those who already have an addiction to alcohol and drugs. They are the risk group under general stress and panic mood caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Therefore, today it is necessary to pay special attention to this group of people. And they themselves must understand that the time has come for serious decisions. Of course, it takes courage to admit their weaknesses and seek help. This help can be preventive – in rehabilitation centers, in contacts with psychologists, in groups of anonymous alcoholics.

It is also important to understand: stress cannot be perceived as an external phenomenon. It is wrong to think that a stressful situation is a reason. Stress is our reaction to external circumstances that we perceive as stressful. Do you feel the difference? It means stress depends on us, on our reaction. This explains why different people react differently to the same things: someone from one unfriendly look of a passer-by is able to become depressed, and the other keeps iron calm when everything around him literally collapses.

Based on this, there is one very important conclusion: how much stress we got depends more on ourselves than on what happened to us. This is a fundamental position. It turns out that although external circumstances cannot always be adjusted to the considerations of our comfort and balance (it’s not always possible to find less stressful work or leave the city for a more peaceful place), you can always change your perception of what is happening so that it does not give rise to nervous tension in us.

And even more so, it is necessary to resist the temptation to take a “light curve” for anxiety and stress – drink alcohol or use a drug.

Scientists have established the connection between stress and alcohol – it has a bi-directional structure. Ethyl alcohol, getting into the body, begins to change its response to stress.

It happens because the production of the hormone cortisol decreases, which increases during stress. 

That is, the effect of intoxication is reduced, which leads to your desire to drink even more alcohol.

Alcohol reduces the hormonal background that is triggered by mental illness. However, the illness does not go away but only intensifies, and discomfort occurs again.

At the same time, stress reduces the pleasant sensations of alcohol, since a person does not get the same pleasure.

With time it leads to chronic alcoholism, which is much more difficult to deal with than chronic stress, nervousness, and anxiety.

It turns out that such stress relief leads to the development of persistent dependence on alcohol. As a rule, a person does not notice that he has formed a habit, he believes that he can do without drinking. However, in fact, in any stressful situation, he is no longer able to do without a dose of alcohol.

This is what leads to alcoholism, which is accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • persistent desire to drink;
  • causeless attacks of aggression and anger;
  •  problem with alcohol addiction recognition;
  • uncontrolled consumption of alcoholic beverages;
  • memory losses.

Long-term use of ethyl alcohol leads to various physiological disorders, and also changes the mental state of a person.

Long-term studies have shown that the cure for alcoholism due to emotional illness, is extremely difficult. It is due to the fact that alcohol eventually destroys the structure of the brain.

The mutual influence of the aging factor of the body and the level of alcohol consumption is noted. Alcohol leads not only to premature aging, deterioration of organs and systems of the body, but also changes the body’s response to the effect of alcohol on human physiology and psychology. The hormone cortisol, the production of which accelerates and increases under the influence of alcohol, contributes to the deterioration of the metabolism of alcohol and increases the vulnerability to the consequences of its breakdown. Aging worsens the adaptive properties of the body to the effects of stress factors.

With time, a person “relieves” psycho-emotional stress with ever-increasing doses of alcohol, which strength also increases. Ethyl alcohol now does not soothe, does not help solve problems, but irritates the body of the former teetotaler.

Trying to get away from the negative effects of stress through drinking, an alcoholic gets even more stress, which alcohol no longer removes, namely:

  • hangover syndrome
  • pain in the head, liver, heart,
  • alcoholic tremor of limbs,
  • memory problems
  • a feeling of constant dry mouth
  • swelling of the face.
  • negative reaction to any annoying situation (the response is enhanced by the breakdown of alcohol and the absorption of toxic decomposition products into the blood).
  • finding reasons for drinking alcohol,
  • increased desire to drink alcohol.
  • acute rejection of everything that interferes with drinking
  • constant anxiety, hallucinations.

The more serious social consequences of alcoholism are a condemnation of the society; loss of family, work, friends, acquaintances; complete loss of self, often ending in physical death.

Тhere is an alternative

Remember that alcohol, drugs, and stress are incompatible concepts! There is an alternative to alcohol and drugs in case of stress. The most reasonable way to relieve psycho-emotional stress is to identify and eliminate the causes of its occurrence. It is necessary to learn how to solve your problems, to understand that any problem is not a disaster, but an opportunity for self-improvement.

Fatigue, nervous tension, responsible attitude, relationships with people, the bustle of the city, family quarrels – all these are stress factors. The consequences of their impact felt during and at the end of the day, affect us with fatigue, nervous exhaustion, poor mood, and nervousness.

Today, COVID19 has joined the “usual stresses”. And not only joined but pushed aside all other concerns, making us think more and more about the threats of the pandemic. In these conditions, one must be especially attentive to oneself and others.

Have you heard the slogan “fire is easier to prevent than to put out”? Everyone needs to know what measures should be taken to extinguish the fire, but it is even more important to understand what needs to be done to prevent the fire (for example, not to sleep with a cigarette in your mouth or with a working iron and boiler in your arms). The same with stress: you need to be able to prevent it. Here are some tips to reduce your stress tolerance without alcohol and drugs.

Free yourself from unpleasant thoughts

How familiar this is: annoying thoughts about unpleasant facts and events do not leave us. We worry about them again and again and cannot stop at all. It is very exhausting and disheartening and does not contribute to getting rid of stress.

The key is to postpone thinking about the situation for tomorrow, turn your attention to something else. Please, note: the perception of life problems depends largely on our physical and psychological state. In the morning, being peppy and fresh, everything seems to be doable, we can deal with everything, but in the evening, when we are tired and stressed, problems begin to take on terrifying sizes, as if you were looking at them through a magnifying glass.

It seems you are a different person. But fatigue and exhaustion misrepresent many things. You should be aware of this when assessing your current state: “ Now I am exhausted and tired both mentally and physically, therefore I do not quite adequately perceive many things, therefore, I will not think about them now.”

It’s easy to say, but sometimes it’s hard to give yourself such an order, since negative thoughts, it would seem, get into our heads and do not want to leave it.

But there is a small trick on how to deceive your mind, which wants to immediately begin to think about the problem, which now seems extremely important. Promise yourself that you will think it over tomorrow morning, as soon as you wake up and open your eyes, sit down and give it proper consideration. So you lull the vigilance of the mind, which “agrees” to make a concession and postpone the solution to this situation until later. Do you remember the famous words of a famous lady:” I will think about it tomorrow !”?

Get rid of negative thoughts. Clean your head. This may not seem easy, but the ability to control your mind appears during meditation.

Practice relaxation techniques, meditate

If you want to immediately relieve stress, this is an excellent occasion to try to meditate or start practicing various relaxation techniques and see how well they relieve stress. The more you do meditation, the better you start to abstract from problems and the less stress you get every day due to the fact that your mind becomes calmer.

Go in for sports

When you go in for sports the endorphins “ the hormones of happiness” are secreted. Physical training has got a double effect: your mood is high and your body is getting stronger. It is much better than drinking beer because beer only weakens your ability to overcome stress. Sports keep you positive and healthy.

Take a contrast shower.

Extreme sports are believed to be associated with adrenaline. This is true. But it’s not adrenaline that provokes people to dizzying jumps and tricks, it’s not for it as many mistakenly believe. Adrenaline – only makes your heart beat faster, increases your stamina and speed of reaction. But the thrills after a parachute jump give endorphins.

These are not only “hormones of happiness”, but they also contribute to pain relief, the body begins to secrete them in an extreme situation, which it perceives as threatening and, in order to partially exclude the possibility of death from pain shock as a result of a possible injury, the release of this hormone begins, which has such a pleasant side effect.

A similar mechanism is triggered by cooling the body, as it is also stress for the body (not to be confused with the stress discussed in the article).

A contrast shower is a gentle and affordable tool. This procedure is not only able to relieve stress and increase mood, but also greatly tempers the body. Not only a contrast shower but also any water procedures can help relieve stress, such as a hot bath, bathing in a pond, visiting the pool.

Listen to music

The pleasure that you get from listening to music is also directly related to the chemical processes in the brain. They are triggered by a harmonious sequence of sounds (or not quite harmonious – it depends on your taste) and cause a feeling of happiness and euphoria. Even sad and gloomy music can cheer you up, on the condition you like it.

Contemplate while walking

To relieve stress, you can walk a bit and breathe. It is better to choose a calm and quiet place, for example, a park. Avoid crowds. During the walk, try to relax, free yourself from thoughts, look around more, direct your gaze to the outside, not inside yourself and your problems.

Contemplative exercises contribute well to calm. Sit on a bench and look at a tree, look at it’s every bend, try to keep your attention occupied for a certain amount of time. This is a subtype of meditation practice that you can do whenever you want, even at lunchtime at work.

Start relaxing on the road after work

Even if the day did not turn out to be particularly difficult in terms of nervous load, then, all the same, the road home can greatly tire or spoil the mood. Many do not know how to relieve stress after work and continue to accumulate it on the way home. Therefore, already on the road, start turning off thoughts about work and current problems, abstract yourself from what is happening, do not succumb to general anger and nervousness, the atmosphere of which, as a rule, reigns on the roads.

Keep calm, try to suppress within yourself those impulses that lead to anger at someone which makes you start to swear out loud or quietly. All this negativity is able to bring the finishing touches to your evening picture of stress and tension and finally exhaust you. Let others get angry and nervous at the expense of themselves, but not you!

Stress is easier to prevent than to relieve! In order not to have to get rid of stress with all sorts of lethal means such as drugs or alcohol, it is better to minimize its manifestations throughout your day, starting in the morning.

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