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Alcohol and Mental Health

Drinking alcohol (often excessively) is not uncommon for blokes (and many women too!). But when you mix alcohol with mental health difficulties, it can be a disaster waiting to happen.

The problem with alcohol is that it changes your brain chemistry. Your brain functions best when its chemicals and processes are in balance and alcohol changes the neurotransmitters so things get out-of-whack. The important thing to remember is that the brain is already having difficulties keeping things balanced when you are experiencing mental health problems. So, adding alcohol to the mix is kind of like adding fuel to the fire!

Next time you reach for a bottle (or glass) of your favourite drop, remember the following points:

  • Alcohol negatively impacts your mental health as well as your physical health

  • The more you drink, the greater the effect of alcohol on your mental health

  • People often drink to reduce stress or anxiety but alcohol can end up making you feel worse.This is because it depresses your brain’s functioning and in some people this creates stress rather than reducing it (particularly the next day)

  • If you keep drinking as a way of alleviating symptoms (at least in the short term) there is a risk that you will become dependent on alcohol instead of exploring the underlying causes of your mental health difficulty

  • If you already have mental health issues, alcohol  can make these worse. It can put you at risk of harming yourself and it can increase your symptoms because it leads to recklessness and reduces your self control

Sometimes you might not even recognise that you have been struggling with your mental health until you realise that you are using alcohol more than others, or more than you used to. Like always, if you have any concerns or are curious about whether you might benefit from mental health treatment, talk to you GP or seek the services of another qualified mental health professions.

Stay safe.

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Crisis support services can be reached 24 hours a day: Lifeline 13 11 14;Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467; Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800; MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78; Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636

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