The effects of alcohol

 Alcohol is categorised as a stimulant, although, for some it can be a depressant depending on emotional states at the time of consumption.  Typically, stimulants can be addictive as they stimulate the Central Nervous System in the brain, releasing a sense of euphoria or pleasure.  Therefore, drinking alcohol can be a pleasant experience enjoyed by many as part of a healthy lifestyle if consumed in moderation.  Currently, the NHS advises both men and women not to drink more than 14 units a week (please see your local health service for further information on units).  

Increased consumption of alcohol within a short space of time or over a long period can have detrimental effects upon our mental and physical health.  Alcohol addiction is an example, whereby people develop psychological and physical dependency on alcohol, characterised by excessive drinking, secrecy, denial, and physical withdrawal effects when sober.  Often, these individuals develop a tolerance to the pleasant effects of alcohol and therefore need to consume more to experience the release of endorphins regardless of the consequences.  

It is important to note that not everyone who experiences issues with alcohol has an addiction, as alcohol abuse does not indicate dependency but remains a risk factor.  Alcohol abuse is characterised by drinking in an unhealthy way but not necessarily on a consistent basis, for example, having an alcohol ‘binge’ once or twice a month.  During an episode of alcohol abuse, there are high risks of alcohol poisoning or engaging in activities with negative consequences including accidents, violence, sexual misconduct and losing important possessions.  Both alcohol addiction and alcohol abuse have potential long-term effects too, including pancreatitis, liver, and heart disease.  If you are concerned about your drinking, please continue reading and see your GP or Psychologist for an assessment, to explore your concerns in depth and find out the best support options available to you including rehabilitation, medication, or therapy.

It should be noted that alcohol addiction and alcohol abuse are not the same. Alcohol addiction refers to a psychological and physical dependency on alcohol. Individuals who suffer from alcohol addiction may build up a tolerance to the substance, as well as continue drinking even when alcohol-related problems become evident.

Alcohol abusers are not necessarily addicted to alcohol. Alcohol abusers are typically heavy drinkers who continue drinking regardless of the consequences.  Abusers of alcohol may not drink on a consistent basis, for example, an individual who abuses alcohol may only drink once a week, however, when that individual drinks, they put themselves into risky situations or drink enough to cause problems such as alcohol poisoning. Certain individuals who abuse alcohol may eventually become dependent on it.

Do you have an alcohol issue

If you are unsure whether you have a healthy relationship with alcohol, there are usually some helpful considerations when deciding to seek support:

  • Are you feel you are drinking above 14 units of alcohol a week?
  • Are people are concerned about your drinking?
  • Do you only associate relaxation or confidence with drinking?
  • Do you experience severe effects following alcohol consumption, for example, a ‘blackout’?
  • Do you find yourself regularly thinking or feeling ‘I need a drink’ 
  • Is your routine is being impacted by the effects of alcohol, for example, too hungover to work?
  • Are you drinking in secret and/or feeling guilt or shame?
  • Are you being affected financially by the cost of your drinking?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you may have an issue which if ignored, poses risk to your wellbeing.  However, accessing the appropriate professional support such as online therapy can make a difference by helping you explore the issue further and make steps towards your goal, whether it is to improve your relationship with alcohol or achieve sobriety. 

    Online therapy for alcohol abuse

    In online therapy you can explore your concerns in a safe and confidential environment with your non-judgmental therapist.  There is a fine line between social drinking and problematic drinking, which your therapist can help you define and identify what the issue is.  You may learn to identify personal triggers for problematic drinking for example, low mood; as well as environmental triggers such as cultural/societal pressure to have a drink and ‘loosen up’.  

    Sometimes alcohol consumption is the biproduct of another issue, such as depression or anxiety which can also be discussed with your therapist, who can offer you the most suitable approach for your needs.  In online therapy, you will collaborate with your therapist on your aims and often learn to address both the surface level behaviour of drinking but also any underlying issue, for example, poor self-esteem.  Cognitive Behavioural approaches are often employed to help you achieve behavioural change as well as implementing healthier ways of thinking about yourself and alcohol.

    In some cases, your therapist may direct you towards additional support services such as Alcoholics Anonymous or your GP where appropriate.  This is called a ‘multi-agency’ approach which is quite common when a person may benefit from additional intervention to meet their goals.  Your wellbeing will remain at the heart of online therapy and therefore, if you are struggling or regress, your therapist will encourage you to explore and overcome these throughout the process.  

    No-Obligation discussion

    Free initial telephone discussion

    If you are looking for online therapy please contact Teresa Lewis for a 15 minute no-obligation discussion. Teresa is a BACP Senior Accredited Counsellor and Psychotherapist so she will be able to briefly discuss your issues, answer questions and explain more about how online therapy works.  At this time you can decide whether you would like to book an appointment. The discussion is conducted without any obligation to book an appointment.

    Make an appointment for online therapy

    If you would like to speak to one of our therapists regarding online therapy for alcohol issues please call our Wolverhampton office on 01902 827808.  Alternatively, fill out our online contact form and we will contact you within 24 hours.


    Medical disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice by a qualified doctor