Are You Drinking To Cope With Anxiety?

It’s no secret that many people drink in order to combat anxiety.  After one or two drinks, they state that they feel more relaxed and can navigate relationships or social scenes better.  This may sound great, but there are many people who cannot stop drinking after just one or two drinks. They may only want to have a social drink occasionally, but once they start drinking, they drink more than they want. In fact, sometimes they end up highly intoxicated, and this has caused a good many arguments in a relationship.

Relationship anxiety

Relationships can sometimes be challenging, but if you struggle with insecurity and anxiety in yours, it can really affect the relationship in a negative way.  In fact, if you do not understand how to overcome your relationship or love anxiety, you may pick up some negative coping skills, like drinking to ease your nerves. This can lead to a dependence on alcohol and ultimately can cost you your relationship.

Do you struggle with relationship anxiety? Do you drink in order to try to calm your nerves when engaging with others?

Here are some steps you can take to take control of your emotions and reduce or overcome relationship anxiety that you are experiencing.

  1. Determine why you feel anxiety. If you are feeling anxious feelings, something deep inside you may be insecure.  Take some time to think what you may be feeling insecure about. You may have to start digging to see if there are some root causes for that anxiety. Maybe you had to deal with some abandonment or rejection as a child.  Maybe that’s why you feel insecure today. When you can get to the root issue, and address it there, you’ll be less likely to feel anxiety, and therefore less likely engage in drinking to cope with relationship anxiety.
  2. Have a discussion with your partner. If there is something that your partner is doing to cause the anxiety to arise, have a kind discussion about the matter with him or her. It might be as simple as saying, “Honey, I feel quite anxious when you say you are going to be home at 6 pm for dinner, but don’t show up until 8.”  Or if your partner is flirting with the waitress and this makes you uncomfortable, simply let him know. Open and honest communication goes a long way in any relationship and will help you feel relief that you got things off your chest. This lighter feeling can help you from drinking to cope.
  3. Discuss the matter with a friend or counselor. Sometimes just bouncing your concerns off a friend, family member, or counselor may help the situation. If you tell your mom you are having relationship anxiety because your man is getting home for dinner late, she may simply remind you that he has a demanding job and sometimes he can’t leave until the job is complete. She may let you know that you do not have to take it personally but make a decision to accept the situation as it is. Reaching out for help from a professional counselor or maybe even a support group is a great tool for dealing with anxiety. It can certainly help you reduce drinking to cope.
  4. Learn techniques to reduce your anxiety. There are different ways you can reduce your anxiety, and therefore, reduce drinking to cope. Consider things such as meditation, exercise, yoga, qigong, or perform deep breathing exercises. Sometimes relationships bring about anxiety for one reason or another, so having a handbag of anxiety reduction techniques on hand will serve you well. A good therapist can help you learn how to lower your stress and anxiety levels. If you can’t see a therapist in your community, consider seeing an online counselor.  There are even online video support groups where you will be able to share your story, feelings, and hope.  Take some time to do your homework and try various things to see what works for you. This can certainly help you stop drinking to cope.
  5. Much of the time relationship anxiety is centered around jealousy. You might be afraid that your partner is interested in someone else and this can cause a great deal of anxiety, prompting you to engage in drinking to cope.  If you struggle with jealousy, consider that you may have a fear of abandonment that will need to be resolved on your own or with a professional. Most of the time jealous feelings are not justified in a relationship, so come to a place where you can dismiss the jealousy feeling and concentrate on how much your partner loves you.  You can also focus on the worst case scenario that if your partner leaves you, it will hurt for a while, but it will be alright in the long run.
  6. Invest in your personal development. There are many ways you can invest in your personal development. There are workshops, classes, support groups, online courses, videos, websites, guides, life coaches, pastors, mentors, and more. There is no excuse as to why you cannot embark on a personal development journey to work toward abstaining from drinking to cope with anxiety or anything in life. Try not to think of it as you have to “fix” yourself overnight. In fact, you’re not broken, so you don’t have to fix yourself. However, there are plenty of things you can learn about yourself, others, alcoholism, and life in general that will help you live a better life.  Give yourself permission to attend a workshop or take a class. Order a good book and commit to reading a chapter a day. Meet a mentor for coffee regularly and discuss your goals and progress. What you invest in yourself can certainly get you a good return, and one positive that can come out if it is that you engage in drinking to cope less.

If you’re struggling with quitting drinking

Whether you’re dealing with relationship issues or any other issue, drinking to cope or not being able to stop drinking, know that you are not alone. Perhaps you’ve tried to quit drinking on your own over and over to no avail. This is actually quite common in recovery, and a relapse should not be looked upon as a failure.

Look at a relapse as a learning experience, where you can learn from it and perhaps not make the same mistake again. You’re probably well aware that drinking to cope might relieve your anxiety for the moment or numb your pain temporarily, but then when you’re sober, you feel terrible about yourself. You feel as if you are a failure and just cannot get your life together.

Remember that alcoholism is a disease of the brain. When you drink, it affects your brain in a particular way. Some say that it sort of hijacks your brain because even when you want to stop drinking, your brain is screaming for more. It does its best to overpower your rational mind, and sometimes it wins.

But you can learn to stop drinking and maintain sobriety when you embrace a new recovery journey, finding the tools and the path that works for you. Each person will find their unique individual path to healing and recovery. It’s up to you to find out what works for you.

Perhaps attending an inpatient or outpatient rehab will serve you well. Or maybe you’ll do well attending a 12 Step group regularly and by getting yourself a mentor or sponsor. Maybe you’ll benefit from professional counseling to really get at the very core issues of your problems.

Perhaps you will take the more educational route and take an online course dealing with addiction recovery, or get yourself a life coach or recovery coach and work that route. The point is that there are many paths to recovery, and recovery is possible.

Reach out for help

If you need assistance, feel free to reach out to us for help. We’re here to answer any questions that you may have and direct you to the path that is best for you. You do not have to stay in this negative cycle any longer, as today can be your first of the day to a new life free from drinking to cope.

Regarding anxiety surrounding a relationship, know that it may arise from time to time, but if you communicate with your partner when necessary and have a few anxiety reduction techniques handy, you’ll be able to minimize or overcome relationship anxiety.  Without turning to alcohol for liquid courage, you empower yourself to stand on your own merit, believing that you’ll be alright even if your nerves are a bit on the rise.

If you get to a point in which the anxiety is becoming a real problem, seek some professional help or couples counseling if the issue stems from the both of you. A season of counseling, either individual or together, should help you become more confident in yourself and your ability to navigate a relationship well.  It’s alright to ask for help, and there’s no shame in it. In fact, everyone should spend some time in a therapist’s office at least one time in one’s life. There are so many valuable lessons to learn about yourself, others, and life in general, and a therapist can help.

Again, should you have any questions about the best recovery path for you, simply reach out for help today.