The short-term effects of alcohol abuse are visible. You may slur, stumble, and have trouble getting up for work the next day. But what you may not realize is how alcohol changes your brain. These changes make abuse of alcohol and mental health challenges common.
Could the alcohol be causing a mental health condition? And how does that mental health condition impact your willingness or ability to quit? You can get the answers you need by calling Serenity House Detox & Recovery Houston today at 866.516.8356.
Alcohol and Mental Health Explained
Alcohol is a depressant. In other words, it slows down or blocks chemical signals in the brain. That’s why reaction time suffers after you’ve had a few drinks in a short time.
But those are just the noticeable signs of intoxication. Brain signals manage everything from heart rate to emotional response to memories to thinking. So when they slow down, the brain struggles to function.
While much of this may seem temporary, continued abuse of alcohol changes the way the brain works. It causes long-term mental health effects, such as:
- Loss of early social development
- Changes sleeping patterns which hinders the body and mind from restoring themselves during sleep
- Some trouble with memory and early on-set dementia
- Concentration difficulties even after you’ve sobered up with mental fogginess
- Feelings of aggression in some people, as the brain loses its ability to process emotions
- Increasing agitations, anxiety, and sadness
- Inability to manage stress without drinking
- Impulsive behavior as the brain now struggles to reason things out
It Causes or Worsens Mental Health Conditions
All of the above mental health impacts can lead to severe diagnosable mental health conditions, especially general anxiety, depression, and dementia.
Alcohol can also make existing mental health conditions worse. For example, if you turn to a bottle every time you feel stressed, you forget (or never learn) how to manage stress in constructive ways.
This makes regular stress that everyone experiences feel more stressful. As a result, anxiety escalates. If your brain feels overwhelmed by the pressure, it may mentally shut down, and you may struggle with depression.
Anxiety and depression make it harder to manage life, relationships, and money. So the stresses pile up, making the mental health conditions even worse.
Lack of quality sleep caused by excessive alcohol consumption further impacts your immune system’s ability to manage stress. So alcohol abuse feels like a solution or an escape from stress. You may feel you need it to go to sleep.
However, it’s making the stress seem ten times worse in between drinking because of the connection between alcohol and mental health.
How Alcoholism Treatment Can Help
At one time, scientists believed that you had a set number of brain cells at birth. If you damaged them, then you’d never get any more because the brain couldn’t heal. However, today, we know that’s not true.
The brain can heal even if it has been damaged by alcohol. Alcoholism treatment isn’t just about stopping the alcohol. It would be best if you gave the brain what it needs to heal. When you do that, you can begin restoring your mental health.
The great thing about better mental health is that it makes it easier to resist cravings, deal with stress constructively and build a fulfilling life, even if you’ve lost a lot because of the alcohol abuse.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Alcohol and Mental Health
The brain needs a chance to reset and begin building new healthy brain connections. You can get this in dual diagnosis addiction treatment. In these programs, professionals are sensitive to and experienced about how mental health challenges complicate recovery.
They work to treat abuse of alcohol and mental health together, restoring how the mind works to manage stress, emotions, and life.
These programs may include treatments like:
- Individual therapy
- Alcohol detox, which may consist of medications
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Family therapy
- Group therapy
If you’re concerned about how alcohol is affecting your mental health, it’s time to break free from alcohol and start healing the mind. Please call us as 866.516.8356 to learn more about Serenity House Detox & Recovery Houston’s dual diagnosis program.