People who drink heavily often suffer from anxiety, and they drink alcohol in an effort to cope. Once they stop drinking, they may experience rebound anxiety as their body detoxes from alcohol. Alcohol withdrawal necessitates medical detox because it can bring on life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. In a medical detox program, professionals can manage rebound anxiety. Medications, therapy, and other supports may be used to help clients avoid rebound anxiety altogether.
What Is Rebound Anxiety?
If you drink alcohol often or in large amounts, you may be afraid to quit because of a fear of withdrawal symptoms.
People who drink alcohol every day, who engage in binge drinking, or who are heavy drinkers are likely to experience withdrawal (which may involve rebound anxiety), as the body tries to stabilize itself after alcohol is no longer present. Symptoms of withdrawal can be mild, but they could also be fatal for some people.
Withdrawal is not the same as a hangover that goes away after about a day of rest. It begins with the possibility of mild symptoms and becomes worse as the hours go on. Withdrawal can then worsen over several days.
If rebound anxiety is part of withdrawal, it can sometimes last a few weeks, and others may even develop post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). PAWS includes symptoms of withdrawal that last for weeks, months, and even years.
A few things you may face with rebound anxiety are:
Changes in mood
Rebound anxiety often produces the opposite feelings you were getting while drinking. If you drank so you could feel a reduction in stress, that stress is likely to come back during withdrawal, and its return will contribute to rebound anxiety.
Withdrawal means your body is responding to no longer having access to alcohol. You may crave alcohol so you can continue masking negative emotions and feel better.
Rebound anxiety often causes people to have insomnia. Even if you are tired, you may be unable to sleep due to the anxiety.
Additional symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:
Vomiting or nausea
Stomach discomfort and intestinal issues are common during alcohol withdrawal.
Tremors, shaking, and other agitation
Physical symptoms are known to affect people going through withdrawal include shaking, tremors, and an increased heartbeat. If you start feeling these symptoms, get immediate medical attention to prevent worse symptoms, such as seizures.
Delirium tremens and hallucinations
These are some of the more serious effects of withdrawal, and most people will not experience them. Hallucinations can often be negative, and some people may develop psychosis as a result of what they see during withdrawal.
Though uncommon, seizures are possible during alcohol withdrawal. They require immediate medical attention.
Preventing Rebound Anxiety
Rebound anxiety mostly affects people who binge drink or who drink heavily on a regular basis. You are not likely to experience it if you are a moderate drinker.
Moderating your drinking can help you avoid rebound anxiety. If you often drink alcohol to deal with negative emotions, it might be time to evaluate your relationship with alcohol to prevent further problems down the line.
If alcohol is not a crutch to deal with your anxiety, you won’t experience rebound anxiety when you stop drinking.
You can ask for help at any point with your drinking even if you do not fit the stereotypes people have about alcohol misuse. There are many healthy ways to deal with anxiety that do not involve substance abuse.
The Relationship Between Drinking and Anxiety
Many people who decide to have a drink after a tough day are searching for a way to cope with their problems. Doing this once in a while is probably not a big deal. As mentioned by Healthline, alcohol can help you relieve stress because it is a depressant that can make you feel calmer after drinking it.
Alcohol affects your nervous system and even causes the same effects as common anti-anxiety drugs that require a prescription. If your doctor is aware of your drinking habits, they may be okay with your use of alcohol on a limited scale, and they can educate you on the best ways to avoid trouble.
Consistently drinking alcohol may cause you to build tolerance, and you may feel the need to drink more than you used to, so alcohol can continue decreasing your stress levels. Tolerance does not mean you have become dependent on or addicted to alcohol, but it does increase the chances that this could happen.
Regularly drinking alcohol could change your brain and make it more challenging to process difficult or traumatic life events.
Heavy drinking over a long time could increase your odds of developing an anxiety disorder, per Healthline.
Bustle published an April 2017 article on the links between alcohol misuse and anxiety. Moderate drinking is not known to cause significant changes to your brain.
Long-term drinking also makes it easier to develop rebound anxiety during withdrawal from alcohol.
Treatment for Alcohol Withdrawal
There are many treatments available today that can help you detox from alcohol safely and comfortably. Your doctor or another health care professional can help you find the best course of treatment.
A few common ways to address alcohol withdrawal are:
Medical News Today says beta blockers work by stopping your body’s fight-or-flight response temporarily. This decreases your stress levels and is key to preventing heart attacks and cardiac issues.
This is usually given to people who experience delirium tremens.
These are sedatives that can help to prevent DTs or tremors caused by withdrawal.
Many addiction treatment centers provide detox programs that last about a week. This has the added benefit of taking you away from your environment where you have access to alcohol. This vastly reduces the chances of relapse. Professionals can also administer medications if you need them.
Quitting alcohol on your own is not advised, but there may be some things you can do to help the withdrawal process.
Kudzu supplements show promising results in animal testing. They may reduce cravings for alcohol.
Acupuncture is known to decrease depression and anxiety, and it can even have a positive effect on withdrawal. Needles are placed in different parts of your body, and their placement is meant to decrease anxiety levels.
Studies show milk thistle may protect the liver and help as you recover from alcohol misuse.
Again, you should not attempt withdrawal from alcohol on your own. Medical supervision is needed to ensure your safety.