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How to Relieve Stress Without Alcohol?

Is Alcohol Good for Stress? Alcohol for Stress. Drinking Alcohol to Relieve Stress. Alcohol Health Risks.

Alcohol for Stress

If you’re asking, “how to relieve stress without alcohol?” This article is for you. Depression, stress, and anxiety often go hand in hand with heavy drinking. Studies show that people who are alcohol dependent are two to three times as likely to suffer from major depression or anxiety over their lifetime. When addressing drinking problems with alcohol treatment, it’s important also to seek therapies for any accompanying medical and mental health issues. Alcohol for stress will only exacerbate your symptoms.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.5 million U.S. adults experienced both mental illness and a substance use disorder in 2019. [1] The best alcohol treatment with dual diagnosis is integrated intervention, when you receive care for your diagnosed mental illness and substance use disorder, such as alcohol.

Drinking Alcohol to Relieve Stress

Exposure to varying forms of stress is an integral life experience that can provoke various reactions. In research on alcohol, drug, and psychiatric disorders, “stress” often indicates any experience denoting adversity. [2] Stress exposures consist of external stimuli that are:

  • Threatening or harmful
  • Elicit fear
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Excitement
  • Sadness

Mild to moderate stress levels can present challenges within a person’s capability to overcome, producing a sense of mastery and accomplishment that eventually result in a positive outcome. However, adverse experiences that exceed the coping abilities of the individual increase the risk for psychopathology (mental disorders or substance use disorders).

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How to Relieve Stress Without Alcohol
Even if the drinking is new and increased during stress, it can still lead to long-term dependence on alcohol. 

How to Relieve Stress Without Alcohol?

Is Alcohol Good for Stress?

Drinking too much can harm your health. Excessive alcohol use led to more than 140,000 deaths and 3.6 million years of potential life lost (YPLL) each year in the United States from 2015 to 2019, shortening the lives of those who died by an average of 26 years. [3] If you’re experiencing stress in your life right now that is out of your control, here are the tips to help you relieve stress without alcohol:

Identify the Source of the Stress

How to relieve stress without alcohol? Well, not all stress is bad. It can help you survive in a dangerous situation. For example, one kind of stress is the jolt you may feel when a car pulls out in front of you. This jolt of hormones helps you quickly hit the brakes to avoid an accident. A little short-term stress can sometimes be helpful. For example, having a deadline for school or your job may push you to finish your work on time. Once you finish it, that stress goes away. But stress that lasts a long time can harm your health.

Causes of long-term stress [4] include:

  • Routine stress from the demands of work, school, family needs, money problems, and other daily pressures don’t stop
  • Stress from sudden, difficult changes in your life, such as divorce, illness, losing your job, or other unhappy life events that often have a long impact
  • Traumatic stress may happen when you’re in danger of serious harm or death. Examples include being in a bad accident, a war, a flood, an earthquake, or other frightening events. This type of stress can cause a long-lasting problem called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

When stress keeps going, your body acts as if you’re always in danger. That’s a lot of strain that may play a part in developing serious health problems, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes (high blood sugar)

It’s possible to get used to the symptoms of stress and not even realize there’s a problem. So when there’s a lot of stress in your life, it’s important to pay attention to how it affects you so you can do something about it. Seek professional help if the source of your stress is an underlying condition such as PTSD or other mental illness.

How to Relieve Stress Without Alcohol?
Alcohol’s ability to increase stress can continue even when you’re not drinking

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Identify What You Can Control

How to relieve stress without alcohol? Accepting that you can’t change certain things allows you to let go and not get upset. For instance, you cannot change or control the fact that you have to drive during rush hour. But you can look for ways to relax during your commutes, such as listening to a podcast or book.

Preserve Healthy Boundaries

Do not let stress get in the way of being social. Spending time with family and friends can help you feel better and forget about your stress. Confiding in a friend may also help you work out your problems, but it is also important to preserve healthy boundaries. How to relieve stress without alcohol? Setting boundaries (or reevaluating them) in your relationships will ultimately help reduce stress and ensure that you have a healthy dynamic with your loved ones. 

Make Time to Do What You Enjoy

When stress has you down, do something you enjoy to help pick you up. It could be as simple as reading a good book, listening to music, watching a favorite movie, or having dinner with a friend. Or, take up a new hobby or class. Whatever you choose, try to do at least one thing a day that’s just for you.

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Incorporate Physical Activity into Your Day

Getting physical activity daily is one of the easiest and best ways to cope with stress. When you exercise, your brain releases chemicals that make you feel good. It can also help you release built-up energy or frustration. How to relieve stress without alcohol? Find something you enjoy, whether walking, cycling, softball, swimming, or dancing, and do it for at least 30 minutes on most days. [5]

Don’t Forget to Laugh

How to relieve stress without alcohol? Try the “Laughter Prescription.” [6] It is commonly accepted that laughter produces psychological benefits, such as relieving the effects of depression, anxiety disorders, and stress. While more research must be done to fully understand the benefits of laughter, it is also important to acknowledge there is not much to lose in laughing. With no downsides, side effects, or risks, perhaps it is time to consider laughter seriously.

Avoid Making Yourself Vulnerable to Excessive Stress

  • If your stress comes from taking on too much at home or work, learn to set limits. Ask others for help when you need it
  • When you can, remove yourself from the source of stress. For example, if your family squabbles during the holidays, give yourself a breather and go out for a walk or drive
  • How to relieve stress without alcohol? Try to develop a more positive attitude toward challenges. You can do this by replacing negative thoughts with more positive ones. For example, rather than thinking, “Why does everything always go wrong?” change this thought to, “I can find a way to get through this.” It may seem hard or silly at first, but with practice, you may find it helps turn your outlook around

Practice Healthy Habits

  • Practicing relaxation techniques is a great way to handle daily stress. Relaxation techniques help slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure. There are many types, from deep breathing and meditation to yoga and tai chi. Take a class, or try learning from books, videos, or online sources
  • Getting a good night’s sleep can help you think more clearly and have more energy. This will make it easier to handle any problems that crop up. Aim for about 7 to 9 hours each night
  • Eating healthy foods helps fuel your body and mind. Skip the high-sugar snack foods and load up on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat or nonfat dairy, and lean proteins. The results of a healthy diet will never disappoint you!
How to Relieve Stress Without Alcohol?
Alcohol is a depressant drug that can cause anxiety and increase stress. Avoid it.

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Alcohol Addiction Treatment Centers Near Me

There are many ways how to relieve stress without alcohol. Healthier ways are achievable if you will just try. If your stress now is coming from your substance abuse or alcoholism, it is crucial to get professional help. For most adults, moderate alcohol use is probably not harmful. However, about 18 million adult Americans have an alcohol use disorder (AUD). This means that their drinking causes distress and harm. AUD can range from mild to severe, depending on the symptoms. Severe AUD is sometimes called alcoholism or alcohol dependence.

AUD is a disease that causes:

  • Craving – a strong need to drink
  • Loss of control – not being able to stop drinking once you’ve started
  • Negative emotional state – feeling anxious and irritable when you are not drinking

Essentially, some people may experience some benefits from drinking one or two alcoholic beverages per day, but not everyone. The potential risks of drinking alcohol every day greatly outweigh the possible benefits and there is no amount of alcohol that can be guaranteed to be safe.

Alcoholism is a serious and debilitating disease that will progressively get worse the longer it goes untreated. An alcohol rehabilitation center can help mitigate the unpleasant alcohol withdrawal effects and help with behavioral therapy for this chronic relapsing brain disorder.


[1] Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration
[2] Stress and Alcohol – National Center for Biotechnology Information
[3] Alcohol Use and Your Health – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
[4] Stress – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health
[5] Learn to manage stress – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health
[6] The Laughter Prescription – National Center for Biotechnology Information

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