What Happens When We Drink to Bury Our Trauma?

Date 10/19/2022
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Drinking can feel good in the moment, but it's not a long-term solution for trauma.

Drinking can feel good in the moment, but it's not a long-term solution for trauma.

When you're dealing with the pain, stress, fear, and anxiety that can come with trauma, it's easy to reach for any immediate solution that you can find. It's only natural to want a quick fix, and that's just what drinking can seem to provide. Unfortunately, this solution will only cause more problems in the long run and may ultimately make it even more difficult to heal from your emotional trauma.

Our Body Craves the Comfort

Upfront, alcohol is very effective for coping with trauma. Drinking can help you relax, releasing endorphins and boosting levels of serotonin and dopamine. This makes you feel good and provides short-term relief from feelings of stress and anxiety. Over time, your brain comes to expect this pleasurable pick-me-up when you see a bottle of whiskey or a six-pack of beer. You'll begin to crave the alcohol as a brief fix for the feelings caused by your trauma.

We Learn to Run From Difficult Feelings

Alcohol can also soften the sharp edges of your memory, dulling the sharp blades of trauma and easing some of your pain. When you don't want to address the trauma, you may turn to the bottle as a quick and convenient escape. While this will work in the short-term, it does nothing to address your problems in the long run.

We Abandon Other Coping Mechanisms

Drinking can become a go-to coping mechanism for trauma, taking the place of healthier options. You may choose to drink rather than embark on the challenging and often painful process of real recovery. When you drink to bury your trauma, you're robbing yourself of the opportunity to spend your time and money on other pursuits that will deliver healthier, more long-term results such as therapy, meditation, or journaling.

We Damage Our Physical Health

Drinking takes a toll on your physical health. When you use alcohol to cope with trauma, you're likely to consume more than you would otherwise. This can suppress your immune system, kill your energy levels, increase your risk of cancer, and cause chronic liver disease, cardiovascular disease, and other problems. When you're dependent on alcohol to help you heal from mental or emotional trauma, you're causing physical trauma and creating problems instead of solving them. 

We Create a Hazardous Cycle

Burying your trauma with alcohol creates a dangerous cycle in your life. You may become dependent on the alcohol, which means that you'll have to battle your alcohol addiction alongside your trauma to achieve real recovery. If you're drinking to help you cope with trauma, it's never too soon to change your patterns and seek healthier ways to approach the problem.

While drinking may feel good in the moment, it won't help your trauma actually go away. Finding a trusted advisor is a great first step toward finding a better path for recovery.


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