Rebound anxiety and booze

This post is triggered by an article I read called ‘The Weird Reason Why Drinking Alcohol Can Make You Feel Anxious the Next Day’.

This is what the article said:

Whenever I drink alcohol, I feel anxious the next day. Why?

You know the bodily symptoms of a hangover: fatigue, headache, and nausea. But anxiety and other mood problems (like irritability or feeling down) are also pretty common effects of drinking. For some people, these can be intense: If you have panic disorder, for example, heavy imbibing 
can trigger a panic attack, complete with shortness of breath and chest pain.

What gives? As your body removes the alcohol from your system, two things happen: Your blood sugar drops (because your body is diverting energy 
to excreting the booze rather than maintaining healthy glucose levels) and inflammation kicks in. Studies link the latter to mood changes and memory issues; an uptick in inflammatory chemicals can affect your nervous system. And low blood sugar can lead to feelings of nervousness.

Finally, because alcohol famously lowers your inhibitions, you might also 
be worried about your actions from the night before.

The best advice is to stick to one drink and never have more than two in one night. You can also try drinking water in between your cocktails.

But it got me thinking about rebound anxiety that is also experience with drinking and I think it is partly fuelled by this physiological explanation but that doesn’t take account of the psychological symptoms.

The term rebound anxiety is nearly always used to refer to the difficulties many people have when attempting to withdraw from certain medications prescribed for anxiety.  It is defined as ‘the relative worsening of symptoms on discontinuation of treatment as compared to baseline symptoms’.


But many of us self-medicated our anxiety with booze.  Ergo we suffer the same effects of withdrawing from booze as someone does if withdrawing from anti-anxiety meds.  For me this is confirmed by the fact that anxiety meds are used during a medical detox from alcohol as a way to manage the unpleasant symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.  I also know that managing a medical detox for someone who is addicted to both alcohol and anxiety medication is the most difficult and dangerous detox to manage.

So we all suffer rebound anxiety when we stop drinking to some lesser or greater extent.  As the Health Central piece about rebound anxiety concludes:

Recovery is a process and it is one that can’t be rushed. The goals need to quite modest and always attainable. Sometimes there will be days when all progress appears to have been lost, but overall, the two-steps forward and sometimes one-back approach is part of the deal, which people need to be aware of. The motivation to get better however is hugely important.

10 thoughts on “Rebound anxiety and booze

  1. From the ‘anxiety rebound’ article: ‘It is estimated that over 70 percent of people who come off benzodiazepine drugs have some kind of rebound effect. In some cases the sensations of anxiety this can evoke are worse than the original symptoms and can include headaches, insomnia and a range of physical symptoms.’

    ‘The sensations can be worse?!! Why oh why….. do doctors prescribe these poisonous ‘medicine’? Replace the word ‘benzodiazepine’ with any street drug and everybody goes oeeeh and aaah and when it is prescribed drugs nobody even stops to wonder. :-/

    *Soapbox mode off

    xx, Feeling

    1. I know feeling I share your frustration. Prescription vs street = sanctioned and profited from vs illegal. Heroin usage is rising in the US because patients have become addicted to prescription opiates and then the script is stopped so they resort to using street smack instead 🙁 Am about to start reading Johann Hari’s book, Chasing the Scream and fear my blood pressure is going to rise exponentially as I read it! xx

      1. Lucy, That sounds like a good book.
        Will I understand it or is it a technical book?
        I drank to help my anxiety and then had HORRIBLE anxiety after I drank.
        My dr. took away my clozopan (Spelling?), after I was honest about my drinking.
        I am SO glad he did!!!!
        Luckily I did not go to street drugs!!!!
        I don’t know where to find them anyway, thank the Lord!!!

      2. Hey Wendy I don’t think it’s a technical book and I’m hoping it’ll be easy to understand! 🙂 Anxiety meds and booze are a lethal combination so I’m glad you don’t do both anymore xx PS Happy 4th July tomorrow!

      3. There is something I argued over with the store man: when you are willing to use media to look at all the worlds sadness, try also using these media to balance stuff out. It is not natural or bearable to know all missery.

        Start at youtube and search dogs and babies, kittens playing…. you name it.

        Or this one 🙂

        xx, Feeling

  2. Oh, wow I wish I’d read that article about five years ago! I began having crippling panic attacks, especially when driving, and for the longest time I didn’t connect them to alcohol. I also had the brilliant idea of withdrawing from my anxiety meds without my doctor’s help, which of course led me to drink more. I was quite a mess for a while. I think that last paragraph sums it up perfectly: Recovery is a process and it can’t be rushed. Please be sure to share your thoughts after reading Johann Hari 😉 xx

    1. Oh Lori I’m sorry to hear your anxiety had got so bad that you were having panic attacks. I hope they are all gone now? I will happily share my thoughts on the book when I’m done reading 🙂 xx

      1. Oh it’s much better now 🙂 For a while it was bad, it took me a long time to realize booze was the problem! xx

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