Self-Medicating With Alcohol: Dangers, Risks, & Long-Term Effects

By Michaela

Self-medicating with alcohol is a growing problem in society, with many individuals turning to alcohol to cope with stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues. But while alcohol may provide temporary relief, the dangers and risks of self-medicating with alcohol are significant and can have long-term effects on both physical and mental health.

This article will discuss the dangers, risks, and long-term effects of self-medicating with alcohol. We will explore why people may be driven to self-medicate with alcohol and its potential health risks. We will also look at the possible treatments and interventions available to help people who are self-medicating with alcohol or engaging in substance abuse, including drug abuse. By understanding the dangers and risks of self-medicating with alcohol, we can work towards finding solutions to reduce and ultimately prevent the problem more productively.

What It Means To Self-Medicate With Alcohol

Self-medicating with alcohol refers to using alcohol to alleviate symptoms of mental health problems, such as stress, anxiety, or depression. It can also include alcohol to cope with physical pain or other physical symptoms. The problem with self-medicating with alcohol is that alcohol is a depressant and can worsen symptoms of mental health problems in the long run, such as anxiety disorder or another similar mental health issue. Excessive alcohol dependence can lead to various physical health problems, including liver disease, cancer, and heart disease.

Self-medicating with alcohol is a common practice that many people turn to when they feel overwhelmed or stressed out. While it may seem like a harmless solution at first, self-medicating with alcohol can be incredibly dangerous and can have long-term effects on your mental and physical health. 

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5 Steps To Get Your Power Back & Solve Alcohol Problems

First, alcohol is a depressant, which can slow down your central nervous system, leading to a feeling of relaxation. This is why people turn to alcohol when feeling overwhelmed or stressed out. But while a drink or two may help you to relax at the moment, the effects of alcohol are only temporary and can lead to long-term problems. 

When you self-medicate with alcohol, it can lead to increased tolerance and dependence on the substance. This means that you will need more and more alcohol to achieve the same effects, leading to increased cravings and potential addiction. 

Self-medicating with alcohol may seem like a harmless solution in the short term, but it can have serious consequences in the long term. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, it’s important to talk to someone and seek professional help instead of turning to alcohol.

Who Are More Prone To Self-Medicating With Alcohol?

Alcohol may be used as a coping mechanism to deal with the stress, anxiety, and other symptoms associated with PTSD. However, alcohol can worsen the symptoms of PTSD and lead to addiction, which can have a detrimental impact on the veterans’ physical and mental well-being.

Similarly, older adults may also turn to alcohol as a way to cope with symptoms of depression, loneliness, and other mental health issues that may come with aging. Older adults may also have physical health problems that alcohol can worsen. Additionally, older adults may have a higher risk of falling and other accidents while under the influence of alcohol. They may also be more likely to develop memory problems, which can be exacerbated by alcohol use. Therefore, older adults are particularly vulnerable to the dangers and risks of self-medicating with alcohol and may require specialized treatment and support.

The Various Risks And Negative Effects of Self-Medicating With Alcohol

Self-medicating with alcohol is a dangerous and potentially deadly practice. It involves drinking alcohol to cope with emotional or physical pain, relieve stress, or make oneself feel better. While it may provide short-term relief from symptoms, it can have serious long-term consequences. 

Self-medicating with alcohol can seriously affect your physical, mental, and social well-being.

Physical Risks and Dangers Of Excessive Alcohol Consumption

The physical risks and dangers of excessive alcohol consumption are very real and can be severe, even life-threatening. Alcohol is a depressant, which slows down the body’s processes. When consumed in excess, it can have serious and potentially lethal consequences. Physically, it can lead to liver damage and disease, including cirrhosis and hepatitis, as well as an increased risk of cancer, particularly in the liver, colon, esophagus, and breast. It can also cause heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.

The most immediate physical risk of drinking too much is alcohol poisoning. This is a potentially fatal condition caused by consuming a large amount of alcohol in a short period. Symptoms of alcohol poisoning include confusion, vomiting, seizures, slow breathing, and potential coma. If you think someone may have alcohol poisoning, seeking medical attention is essential. 

Excessive alcohol consumption can also affect the brain, leading to memory loss, cognitive impairment, and even permanent brain damage. It can also increase the risk of developing mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.

In addition to the physical and mental health consequences, excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to accidents and injuries. This includes an increased risk of car crashes, falls, and drowning. Alcohol impairs judgment and coordination, leading to a higher risk of car accidents and other types of accidents. It may also result in aggressive conduct, domestic violence, and other violent crimes. Additionally, it may result in social challenges like joblessness, money troubles, and marital problems.

A chronic relapsing brain disorder marked by compulsive alcohol seeking and usage despite negative effects, addiction can also result from excessive alcohol use. If you or a loved one is battling alcoholism, it’s critical to get help.

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5 Steps To Get Your Power Back & Solve Alcohol Problems

Long-term excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to serious health consequences. These include liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis, heart disease, stroke, and various types of cancer. These conditions can be both debilitating and deadly.

The physical effects of self-medicating with alcohol are also very real and can be dangerous. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety. Furthermore, alcohol can worsen underlying mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Additionally, alcohol can lead to physical dependence and addiction, as well as serious withdrawal symptoms when its use is stopped. 

Finally, alcohol can cause severe financial problems. Alcoholism is a major cause of bankruptcy, as heavy drinkers often spend large amounts of money on alcohol. Additionally, individuals with alcoholism often miss work or are unable to perform their job duties, leading to job loss and further financial problems. 

The Impact Of Self-Medicating With Alcohol On Your Mental Health

For many people, self-medicating with alcohol can seem like a viable solution to cope with mental health issues. When used in moderation, alcohol can have some benefits, such as reducing stress and anxiety. However, when used in excess, alcohol can seriously and negatively impact a person’s mental health. 

Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it can reduce the nervous system’s activity. This can cause a relaxed feeling and reduce stress levels, but it can also lead to depression and anxiety. Heavy drinking is associated with an increased risk of developing depression and anxiety and can worsen existing mental health conditions. Over time, drinking can lead to an inability to cope with stress and other emotions, damaging a person’s mental well-being. 

Alcohol can also interfere with the effectiveness of certain medications. If a person is taking antidepressants or other psychiatric medications, they should not drink alcohol as it can reduce the effectiveness of the medication and may even cause adverse reactions. 

In addition, drinking alcohol can make it more difficult to make healthy choices and can impair decision-making. This can lead to increased stress levels and impulsivity, both of which can have a negative impact on a person’s mental health. 

Finally, alcohol can contribute to a decline in physical health, which can further affect mental health. Alcohol can lead to weight gain, liver damage, and other health issues, which can lead to feelings of depression and low self-esteem.

Long-Term Effects Of Self-Medicating With Alcohol On The Body And Brain

Self-medicating with alcohol is a dangerous habit that can have long-term effects on the body and brain. While alcohol may initially act as a sedative and provide short-term relief from stress and anxiety, its long-term effects can be much more serious. 

The long-term effects of self-medicating with alcohol on the body include increased risk for liver disease, high blood pressure, and digestive problems. Heavy drinkers are also at a greater risk of developing certain types of cancer, including mouth, throat, esophagus, and liver cancer. Other effects can include abnormal heart rhythms, heart failure, stroke, and pancreatitis. 

The long-term effects of self-medicating with alcohol on the brain can be just as serious. Alcohol affects the brain in multiple ways, including by reducing the production of neurotransmitters responsible for communication between brain cells. This can lead to memory loss, difficulty concentrating, decreased coordination, and impaired judgment. 

Long-term alcohol use can also lead to a decrease in gray matter in the brain, which is associated with decreased cognitive abilities, such as problem-solving, abstract thinking, and memory. It can also lead to a decrease in white matter, which is associated with decreased functioning of the brain’s communication pathways. 

Self-medicating with alcohol can also lead to psychological changes, such as increased anxiety and depression, increased aggression, and increased risk for suicide. Additionally, long-term alcohol use can lead to an increased risk for developing alcohol use disorder, a chronic, relapsing condition that can have serious negative impacts on a person’s life.

Self-Medicating With Alcohol vs. Alcohol Addiction: Are They The Same?

Self-medicating with alcohol is a common behavior among individuals struggling with addiction. It is a way of numbing physical and emotional pain, as well as temporarily alleviating the symptoms of a mental health disorder. Over time, this behavior can lead to a deeper and more severe addiction. 

Self-medication with alcohol is often the first step in developing an addiction. Individuals who struggle with mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, or stress, may turn to alcohol to temporarily numb their pain or alleviate their symptoms. This can provide a sense of relief and comfort, and in some cases, can even become a habit. 

Unfortunately, self-medicating with alcohol can be highly dangerous and even deadly. When consumed in large quantities, alcohol can disrupt the body’s normal functioning, leading to a number of serious health complications. Additionally, the more an individual relies on alcohol as a form of self-medication, the more likely they are to develop a physical dependence. This can lead to an increased tolerance to the substance and an increased need for larger and more frequent doses.

In addition to physical health risks, self-medicating with alcohol can also lead to more severe addiction. This may include a compulsion to drink in order to cope with stress or emotional pain, or an inability to reduce or stop drinking without considerable effort. Individuals may also begin to neglect their responsibilities and relationships in order to prioritize their drinking. 

The Impact On Relationships And Social Life

When an individual uses alcohol to self-medicate, it can lead to physical and psychological dependence. This dependence can lead to physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms when the individual stops drinking, creating an urge to drink again. This can lead to an unhealthy cycle of alcohol abuse and addiction, which can have a damaging effect on a person’s relationships and social life. 

When a person is struggling with alcohol abuse, it can cause them to withdraw from relationships and social activities. This can lead to isolation and loneliness, which can further fuel the urge to drink. It can also lead to increased conflict in existing relationships, as the individual’s behavior can be unpredictable and difficult to manage. 

Self-medicating with alcohol can also lead to physical and mental health problems and financial difficulties. This can make it difficult to participate in social activities or maintain relationships. It can also lead to legal and professional consequences, such as losing a job or being arrested for driving under the influence. 

If an individual is self-medicating with alcohol, it is important to seek help. Professional treatment can help the individual stop drinking and develop healthier coping strategies. In addition, friends and family need to provide emotional support and understanding. It is also important for the individual to rebuild relationships and engage in social activities as part of the recovery process.

The Impact On Work Or School Performance

Alcohol can interfere with concentration and memory, making it difficult to focus on tasks and absorb new information. It can also make it hard to stay organized, leading to missed deadlines and poor performance in both work and school. Alcohol can also impact mood, leading to irritability, depression, and lack of motivation, which can make it hard to be productive. 

Self-medicating with alcohol can have even more negative long-term repercussions. Abuse of alcohol can result in major health issues such liver damage, high blood pressure, and a higher risk of developing certain cancers. It can also lead to financial problems, relationship issues, and an increased chance of criminal conduct.

It’s crucial for those who use alcohol as self-medication to get assistance as soon as feasible. Therapy, medicines, support groups, and dietary changes are available as treatment options. But, most importantly, it is essential to stop using alcohol as a form of self-medication.

The Role Of Genetics And Family History

The role of genetics and family history in self-medicating with alcohol is an important factor in understanding why some people may be more likely to turn to alcohol as a form of self-medication. Self-medicating is when individuals use substances, such as alcohol, to reduce stress or other mental health issues without consulting a health care provider. It is estimated that over 10 percent of Americans engage in self-medicating behaviors, with a large portion of that population using alcohol as their primary form of self-medication. 

Genetics can play an important role in developing an individual’s tendencies to self-medicate with alcohol. Their parents determine a person’s genetic makeup, and certain genes can predispose a person to certain behaviors. For example, a person may have a gene that increases their risk of developing an addiction to alcohol. This gene can be passed on from parent to child, and if both parents have this gene, the chances of their child developing an addiction to alcohol are dramatically increased. It is important to note though, that there is no ‘alcohol’ gene. The link is more related to traits to do with anxiety or thrill seeking than a gene that predisposes alcohol addiction.

Family history is also an important indicator of an individual’s risk of self-medicating with alcohol. If a person has a family history of alcoholism, they are more likely to develop an addiction to alcohol as well. This is because they may have been exposed to alcohol use and abuse at a young age and have developed a tolerance to it as they have grown older. Furthermore, if a person’s parents or other relatives have used alcohol in a negative manner, such as drinking to cope with stress or other mental health issues, this can be a contributing factor to the development of an addiction. 

The role of genetics and family history in self-medicating with alcohol cannot be overlooked. It is important to understand the factors that can contribute to an individual’s risk of developing an addiction and to take steps to prevent it from happening. 

Alternatives To Self-Medicating With Alcohol

Self-medicating with alcohol may provide temporary relief from mental health problems, but it can ultimately lead to more harm in the long run. There are several alternatives to self-medicating with alcohol that can be more effective and less harmful.


One alternative is therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or talk therapy. CBT is a type of therapy that helps individuals identify and change negative patterns of thinking and behavior. It can be used to treat a wide range of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and addiction. Talk therapy, also known as psychotherapy or counseling, can help individuals explore their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors and learn healthier ways to cope with mental health problems.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Another alternative is medication-assisted treatment (MAT). MAT is a type of treatment that combines medication with therapy to help individuals with addiction. Medications such as naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram can help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms and make it easier for individuals to stick to their treatment plan.

Support Groups

Other alternatives include support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which provide a supportive community for individuals recovering from addiction. Mindfulness and meditation practices can also be helpful in managing stress and negative emotions.

If you or someone you know is engaging in self-medicating behavior with alcohol, it is important to seek professional help. Addiction is a serious condition that can have devastating consequences if left untreated. Treatment should be tailored to meet the individual’s needs and include a comprehensive plan addressing the addiction’s physical and mental health. With the right treatment and support, individuals can learn healthier coping skills and gain the tools they need to achieve lasting sobriety.

How To Avoid Self-Medication With The Alcohol Coach

Ultimately, the best approach to treating addiction and mental health problems will vary depending on the individual’s needs, and a combination of different treatments may be the most effective. When considering any treatment options, it is important to seek professional help from a qualified healthcare provider.

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5 Steps To Get Your Power Back & Solve Alcohol Problems

To avoid self-medicating with alcohol, it’s important to address the underlying issues that are leading to the desire to self-medicate. This may involve seeking professional help, such as therapy or counseling, to address mental health problems or other underlying issues. Developing healthy coping mechanisms, such as exercise, meditation, or journaling, can help individuals manage stress and anxiety more productively.

Alternatively, you can enroll in masterclasses such as the one offered by The Alcohol Coach, where they specifically help individuals understand that they are not to blame for their alcohol problems and that these issues are often the result of complex factors such as genetics, environment, and mental health. They help educate individuals on the science behind addiction and the role that certain brain chemicals play in developing alcohol problems. They also help individuals understand that they are not weak or flawed but rather that they are struggling with a chronic disease that requires professional help.

Shifting one’s mindset around alcohol is crucial for individuals who are struggling with excessive drinking or addiction. By educating individuals on the negative consequences of excessive drinking, they are better equipped to make informed decisions about their drinking habits. This can help them understand the long-term impact that alcohol can have on their health, relationships, and overall well-being.

Learning how to set healthy boundaries with alcohol is also important to change one’s mindset. This can involve setting limits on the amount of alcohol consumed, avoiding certain situations or triggers that lead to excessive drinking, and learning to say no to alcohol in social situations. By setting these boundaries, individuals can take control of their drinking habits and make more conscious decisions about their alcohol consumption.

An important part of shifting one’s mindset is also understanding how alcohol is impacting their relationships, health, and overall life satisfaction. This can help individuals see the bigger picture and understand how their drinking habits affect themselves and the people around them.

An Alcohol Coach can help individuals identify triggers and develop strategies for avoiding them. This can include identifying specific situations, people, or emotions that lead to excessive drinking and developing a plan to manage them healthily. They can also teach individuals how to manage cravings and seek support when needed.

The Alcohol Coach will help individuals understand the way alcohol causes them to feel guilt, remorse, and anxiety. They can help explore the underlying emotional and psychological issues that may drive these feelings and work on addressing them healthily. They can also help individuals understand how alcohol impairs the brain and causes negative emotions to become intensified.

The Alcohol Coach can help individuals permanently change their relationship with alcohol by working with them on developing a personalized treatment plan. They can help individuals set realistic goals and teach them how to live fulfilling lives without relying on alcohol. They can also help individuals develop healthy coping mechanisms and support them in maintaining their sobriety. They can also help individuals understand how to have a great social life without alcohol and navigate social situations without feeling uncomfortable or out of place.

Editor’s Note:

In this article, you might notice that we use ‘labels’ such as “alcoholic”, “disease”, and other identifiers that are used to link individuals together by their habits with alcohol. Though they are used colloquially, we believe them to perpetuate limiting beliefs.  

A key tenet of The Alcohol Coach is that the way to overcome alcohol addiction is through empowerment, not retreating into a space of powerlessness or victim status. 

So, even though we may use these terms to communicate a point as it is known by the general public, keep in mind that our core beliefs dictate that these terms be avoided as much as possible.


Hi, I'm Michela

I’m a leader in the science of transformational freedom for women, and someone previously addicted to alcohol. I have walked the path. I understand your concerns and fears. Here you will find some of my thoughts and insights. Happy browsing!

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