Alcohol and stress
Learn why alcohol can contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression, and make stress harder to deal with.
Have you ever reached for a beer or glass of wine after a stressful day? Turning to alcohol when stressed can seem like an easy way to relax, but it won’t help in the long run.
Regularly drinking more than the UK Chief Medical Officers' (CMOs) low risk drinking guidelines of 14 units a week could make feelings of stress harder to deal with.1,2,3
Alcohol is a chemical depressant.
Alcohol disrupts the delicate balance of chemicals and processes in your brain, affecting your thoughts, feelings and actions– and sometimes your long-term mental health.4
Even though you might think a drink can help you relax, in fact over time, regularly drinking to deal with feelings of stress can interfere with what your brain needs for good mental health as well as disrupt our sleep, making stress harder to deal with.5
Drinking alcohol to relieve stress doesn’t work in the long term. There are far more effective ways to deal with feelings of stress.
Tips to reduce stress without alcohol:
Arming yourself with strategies and tips can help you or a loved one take small steps towards big results.
 Becker, H.C. (2017). Influence of stress associated with chronic alcohol exposure on drinking. Neuropharmacology, 122, 115-126.
 Windle, M. and Windle, R.C. (2015). A prospective study of stressful events, coping motives for drinking, and alcohol use among middle-aged adults. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 76(3),465-473.
 Kushner, M.G., Abrams, K. and Borchardt, C. (2000). The relationship between anxiety disorders and alcohol use disorders: a review of major perspectives and findings. Clinical Psychology Review, 20(2), 149-171.
 Sari, Y. (2017). Commentary: Targeting NMDA receptor and serotonin transporter for the treatment of comorbid alcohol dependence and depression. Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, 41(2), 275.
 Anthenelli, R.M. (2012). Overview: stress and alcohol use disorders revisited. Alcohol Research: Current Reviews, 34(4), 386.