The effects of alcohol on mental health
I love living alcohol free. I’ve learned so much about myself over the last three years, specifically about how I process emotions and cope with negative feelings and experiences. Being sober has also drastically improved my mental health.
I’ve struggled with severe OCD my entire life and when I started drinking as a teenager I thought I found the cure. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Drinking temporarily relieved my obsessive thoughts and compulsions and it was an amazing feeling. However, the next morning, my OCD was worse than ever and would continue to worsen over the following days. I didn’t pay attention to my mental health deteriorating because I loved the feeling I had for a brief 30 minutes to an hour while drinking alcohol.
It finally clicked for me when my therapist told me that alcohol does not get rid of anxiety, it only delays it then worsens it. When looking into the science behind the effects of alcohol on the mind and reflecting on my own experiences, this makes complete sense. Brief moments of relief were not worth the worsening of my mental health, physical health, confidence levels, and general well-being.
I stopped drinking for the first time when I was 19 and in an intensive outpatient hospital program for my mental health. That pause on drinking was never meant to be permanent, and it wasn't. I was still somehow craving the feeling of temporary relief that alcohol would give me despite knowing that I am already feeling better on my own by taking the proper steps to care for my mental health. I started drinking about 8 months later and it didn’t take long before I got back into the pattern of reaching for alcohol whenever I wanted relief from my OCD or any anxious feelings.
After a few similar experiences of quitting drinking for 8-9 months then starting again because I thought I could handle it, I finally quit for good three years ago. I couldn’t be more proud of myself for this choice.
Over the past three years I’ve learned that I don’t need alcohol to have fun and more importantly, I don’t need alcohol to cope with negative thoughts and feelings. It gets really hard sometimes but dealing with OCD, anxiety, and depression without a depressant like alcohol is a lot better for my body and mind in the long term and I keep reminding myself of that. I’ve learned that alcohol will never relieve anxious or negative thoughts and feelings, it only delays and amplifies them.
One of the greatest things I’ve gained over these years has been a sense of community with other young sober people. I am part of a community called Steady Sunday which was founded by another young and sober girl named Steph. She started having zoom calls for young and sober people when she started her sober journey in university and I was one of the first people to join. I’ve met so many people through this community that I’m happy to call my friends. I’ve found that community is a major component in healing and recovery and I'm very thankful for it.
If you are thinking of quitting drinking or moderating your alcohol intake, I hope this post is useful for you. Giving up alcohol can be a long process and it’s not easy but I guarantee it’s worth it.
Content- @soberish @that1soberfriend
Podcasts- Seltzer Squad, Young Fun & Sober, Recovery Happy Hour
Books- Quit Like a Woman, This Naked Mind, The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober