People quite often use alcohol as a way of coping with emotional problems.
Whether it’s depression, anger, anxiety, boredom, frustration or whatever, very soon heavy drinkers may find that they do not have any ways of coping with emotional problems other than alcohol.
Coupled with this is the fact that often, coping with difficult emotions via alcohol does not actually deal with the situation causing such feelings.
Of course this is only one side of the equation. The other side being that…
Heavy alcohol use inevitably causes emotional problems of its own.
Prolonged drinking leads to instability of the emotions; depression is the most common effect of long-term alcohol use. Alcohol is a powerful nervous system depressant, that’s why it is so relaxing. However, the depression of the nervous system, and hence the emotions, lasts much longer than the pleasurable effects.
Another major emotional problem which alcohol leads to is irritability, or anger management problems. This has a number of causes, but probably the most immediate is from low blood-sugar levels. Alcohol consumption usually boosts blood sugar levels in the short term. Alcohol then disturbs the normal production of sugar by the liver. While your liver is metabolising any alcohol you’ve had, it won’t release its stored sugar once your blood sugar level starts to drop. Your blood sugar can then drop too low, causing irritability, usually the day after drinking.
And finally, probably the biggest cause of emotional problems associated with alcohol use comes from the disruptive behaviour which drunken people tend to engage in. After drinking, people will act in ways which they normally would not, be it increased risk taking, aggression or violence, accidents, arguments and a whole lot more.
These altered behaviours then have emotional consequences – both directly on the individual (such as guilt), then indirectly
on that person’s relationships. The people closest to an alcoholic may find themselves in an abusive relationship.