‘Alcohol & Mental Health’ is the theme for the seventh EU Awareness Week on Alcohol Related Harm (AWARH), which runs from 18- 22 November 2019.
AWARH was initiated in 2013 by a group of like-minded organisations following three roundtable meetings on an integrated approach to alcohol-related harm.
During those meetings, the organisations agreed that an EU-level awareness raising campaign should be established to provide information on the detrimental effects associated with alcohol consumption.
Many policymakers and healthcare organisations have since joined in to highlight the negative effects of alcohol and call for greater policy action to address the problems it can cause.
According to mentalhealthireland.ie, mental health problems not only result from drinking too much alcohol, they can also cause people to drink too much.
Put very simply, a major reason for drinking alcohol is to change our mood – or change our mental state. Alcohol can temporarily alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression; it can also help to temporarily relieve the symptoms of more serious mental health problems.
Alcohol problems are more common among people with more severe mental health problems. This does not necessarily mean that alcohol causes severe mental illness. Drinking to deal with difficult feelings or symptoms of mental illness is sometimes called ‘self-medication’ by people in the mental health field. This is often why people with mental health problems drink. But it can make existing mental health problems worse.
Alcohol depresses the central nervous system, and this can make us less inhibited in our behaviour. It can also help ‘numb’ our emotions, so we can avoid difficult issues in our lives. Alcohol can also reveal or magnify our underlying feelings. This is one of the reasons that many people become angry or aggressive when drinking. If our underlying feelings are of anxiety, anger or unhappiness, then alcohol can magnify them.
According to mentalhealthireland.ie, one of the main problems associated with using alcohol to deal with anxiety and depression is that people may feel much worse when the effects have worn off.
Alcohol is thought to use up and reduce the amount of neurotransmitters in the brain, but the brain needs a certain level of neurotransmitters needs to ward off anxiety and depression. This can lead some people to drink more, to ward off these difficult feelings, and a dangerous cycle of dependence can develop.
If you, or someone you love, is struggling with addiction, get help. Tabor Group is a leading provider of residential addiction treatment services in Ireland. We provide support and care to hundreds of clients suffering from addictions to alcohol, substances, gambling and eating disorders. For more information on Tabor Group’s services, click here.