"Addressing alcohol and drug related issues: reducing harm and supporting positive change"
Key Information

 

Alcohol and You Services
Alcohol and You Services
A website with on-line tools to examine alcohol use and referral to support services
Steps to Change
Steps to Change
Early intervention for adults and family members affected by substance use in WHSCT
ASCERT Alcohol Services
ASCERT Alcohol Services
Support for concerns about a persons alcohol use and services for family members
Alcohol Unit Guidance
Alcohol Unit Guidance
Some information about the recommended guidance for alcohol consumption
Alcohol MOT
Alcohol MOT
A tool to help you assess your drinking.
Alcohol and Mental Health

Alcohol and Mental Health

Mental health and alcohol problems often go together. For some people going through a tough time, drinking can be a way to cope. It can work in the short term but whatever benefits you think it has,  it is only temporary.  For some people, the anxiety or depression came first and they’ve reached for alcohol to try to relieve it. For others, drinking came first, so it may be a root cause of their anxietiesAlcohol is a depressant drug that slows down your central nervous system, it can change the way you think and reduces your ability to deal with difficulties. Alcohol can lower your mood or increase anxiety. 

If alcohol is mixed with prescribed medications it can be harmful, particularly with other depressants like painkillers or anti-anxiety medications, intensifying the effects, slowing your breathing and could lead to loss of consciousness and even stop you breathing altogether.

Alcohol alters the brain’s chemistry, depleting serotonin levels, a chemical which regulates your mood and increases the risk of depression. It is often associated with a range of mental health problems, and people suffering from anxiety or depression are twice as likely to be heavy or problem drinkers.

Extreme levels of drinking can occasionally cause ‘psychosis’, a severe mental illness where hallucinations and delusions of persecution develop. Psychotic symptoms can also occur when very heavy drinkers suddenly stop drinking and develop a condition known as ‘delirium tremens’.

Heavy drinking often leads to work and family problems, which in turn can lead to isolation and depression. For heavy drinkers who drink daily and become dependent on alcohol, there can be withdrawal symptoms (nervousness, tremors, palpitations) which resemble severe anxiety, and may even cause phobias, such as a fear of going out.

Warning signs that alcohol is affecting your mental health include:

  • Poor sleep after drinking
  • Feeling tired because of a hangover
  • Low mood
  • Experiencing anxiety in situations where you would normally feel comfortable

Things you can do to prevent alcohol affecting your mental health include:

  • Use exercise and relaxation to tackle stress instead of alcohol
  • Use breathing techniques to relax you when you feel anxious
  • If you are worried about something, talk about it instead of reaching for alcohol.
  • Always be aware of why you’re drinking. It may not make a bad feeling go away, it could make it worse

ASCERT
23 Bridge Street,
Lisburn
Co. Antrim
BT28 1XZ

Tel: 0800 2545 123
Fax: 028 9260 3874
Email: info@ascert.biz
Charity Number: NIC101239