Why Do People Drink Alcohol?

Why Do People Drink Alcohol?

Alcohol is recreationally enjoyed by many people all over the world. However, it is also a substance that millions are addicted to. Alcohol-related deaths, driving accidents, and health issues are on the rise and it is the only substance in which its withdrawal can be fatal. With so much at stake when alcohol is consumed, you might wonder why so many people choose to take part in it in the first place. Keep reading to find out just a few of the reasons why people drink alcohol.

Why Do People Drink Alcohol: Stress Relief

One of the main reasons people drink alcohol is for stress relief. According to the University of Utah, alcohol is a downer, therefore alcohol is a sedative.  After a long, stressful day at work or with family, having a glass of wine is the way many people choose to relax.

However, alcohol is a temporary stress reliever in the moment. It ends up doing more harm than good in the long-term. Alcohol consumption can interfere with sleep, as well as raise anxiety levels. This can cause the cycle of stress-related drinking to start over again, which causes a cycle that quickly leads to alcoholism and dependency.

Social Norms

Alcohol is a legal substance, which is another reason why people drink alcohol. It has become more than just a substance. It has become a social, and even cultural, norm. It is available at any grocery store, restaurant, and most neighborhoods have plenty of corner liquor stores. It is completely normal to have alcohol at get-togethers, celebrations, and events. In fact, according to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 85.6 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime.

Not only is it completely normal, but it is also seen as odd when there is no alcohol involved at a wedding or a Friday night celebration. It’s not unusual for coworkers to go out for a drink to celebrate a big sale or the finishing of a project. Bringing a bottle of wine to a friend’s house or toasting with champagne at a birthday party are all commonplace.

Enjoyment

Simply put; people drink alcohol because they enjoy it. Visiting a brewery has become very popular, as well as going wine tasting. Perhaps you simply enjoy the taste of certain wines and enjoy pairing them with meals. Whiskey is another type of alcohol that has many varietals that people enjoy tasting and trying out.

Many individuals are able to truly enjoy a glass of alcohol and appreciate the craftsmanship, work, and science behind it all. However, many others are not. The enjoyment of alcohol can be used as a veil for alcoholism for many people, and if you notice that you or a loved one is drinking too much, it is important to seek help before it gets worse.

Underlying Mental Health Conditions

One of the reasons people drink alcohol is due to underlying mental health conditions. Self-medicating with alcohol, whether the mental health condition is diagnosed or undiagnosed, is a slippery slope that leads straight to alcoholism.

  • Anxiety and depression. Many individuals with anxiety and depression self-medicate with alcohol to help ease their symptoms. While alcohol can be a temporary fix, it can actually exacerbate anxiety and depression to worsen once the intoxication wears off and a dangerous cycle begins.
  • Trauma. Intrusive thoughts and sad feelings can overwhelm individuals suffering from trauma. They may turn to alcohol to help soothe their sad feelings and curb their intrusive thoughts, however, as mentioned, this will only make it worse in the long run.
  • Social issues. People who may have social issues, such as anxiety or low self-esteem, can use alcohol to give them more confidence and be more talkative at parties or in other situations where they are otherwise uncomfortable.

While alcohol is a temporary fix for underlying mental health conditions, it can quickly lead to tolerance, dependency, addiction, and a wealth of negative health and personal consequences. In order to treat underlying mental health conditions, it is imperative for the individual to be sober. Treating alcoholism and mental health conditions at the same time is called dual diagnosis — one will only exacerbate the other, requiring them to be treated at the same time.

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