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Quitting Alcohol: Managing Anxiety and Restoring Balance

Alcoholism is a pervasive issue affecting millions of people worldwide. Quitting alcohol can be a challenging process, and it commonly triggers severe anxiety.

Those who have been dependent on alcohol for coping mechanisms will miss the anxiolytic effects when they stop using it. However, after cessation, the brain gets into recovery mode and readjusts to work without alcohol.

This article will focus on two key areas: reasons for anxiety when quitting alcohol, and how long anxiety lasts after quitting alcohol.

Using Alcohol to Cope with Anxiety

Many people who struggle with anxiety and panic attacks turn to alcohol to alleviate symptoms. However, using alcohol to cope with anxiety symptoms creates a cycle that leads to alcohol dependency.

This phenomenon is referred to as self-medication. People who engage in self-medication often cite a need to control their anxiety, negating the pleasure factor that alcohol brings.

In the short term, alcohol helps people relax and calm down. But as soon as the sole source of anxiety relief becomes alcohol, people become dependent on it.

The need for alcohol as a stress relief tool creates a coping mechanism. When people quit drinking alcohol, their entire toolbelt disappears, including their anxiolytic coping mechanisms.

Brain Recovery Mode

Without alcohol, the brain struggles to regulate emotions. When the brain is used to working with alcohol, it has grown accustomed to dealing with “artificial” mechanisms.

Therefore, when a person quits drinking alcohol, their brain comes into “recovery mode.” This transition period leads to overwhelming anxiety episodes as the brain is still trying to find equilibrium. The absence of alcohol is also a big shock to the system, and the brain is forced to function without its crutch.

The brain’s ability to restore balance and regulate anxiety takes time. The first 24 hours after cessation is the most challenging moment as the brain is adjusting and getting used to working without the artificial mechanisms.

Over time, the brain adjusts itself and transition into natural mechanisms.

Restoration of Natural Brakes

Alcohol consumption disrupts the natural processes of the brain. Alcohol suppresses natural brakes such as serotonin and dopamine.

It also impairs the natural production of gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that deals with anxiety and stress management. As a result, the brains’ natural brakes don’t work as they should when an individual stops drinking alcohol, leading to anxiety and stress issues.

This stage of withdrawal is known as the post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). PAWS can lead to symptoms that last for months.

Symptoms range from depression, anxiety, and insomnia to emotional instability, triggering negative thoughts and intrusive memories about alcohol. It is vital to understand that everyone experiences PAWS differently; it depends on the severity of alcohol dependency and the duration of drinking.

However, it is essential to recognize the symptoms and address them to manage the anxiety.

Relief is Within Reach

While it might be easier said than done, relief and management of anxiety after quitting drinking are attainable. It’s essential to adopt self-care practices necessary to manage anxiety.

Sound mental, emotional, and physical well-being is crucial to managing anxiety symptoms. They include practicing mindfulness, engaging in physical exercise, having adequate sleep, and an organic diet that reduces anxiety levels.

Mindfulness practice is an effective anxiety-reducing technique. It is an attention-developing process that helps in being aware of present moments and surroundings, thus reducing anxiety symptoms.

Physical exercise helps the body release feel-good hormones, which improve mood and manages anxiety. Adequate sleep also helps the body rest and rejuvenates for a new day.

It is advisable to get optimal sleep for eight hours in a dark, quiet place. Lastly, endorphins release during workout sessions, helping in reducing anxiety.

In conclusion, anxiety after quitting alcohol is a real thing. Initially, it can be overwhelming, but managing it is within reach.

The brain can recover by readjusting and functioning without artificial mechanisms. During the process, self-care practices play a vital role in modulating anxiety, making it manageable.

Although everyone experiences anxiety differently, it’s essential to recognize the symptoms and seek help if the problem persists.

Managing Anxiety When Quitting Alcohol

Anxiety is a common issue people face when they try to quit alcohol. Thus, it’s essential to have a wide range of effective, healthy strategies to manage the anxiety, making it easier to complete the journey.

Mindfulness, seeking peer support, engaging in stress-relieving activities, and reaching out to a therapist are vital strategies to manage anxiety when quitting alcohol.

Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindful moments reduce anxiety by focusing attention on the present moment, while meditation practices help reduce clouded mind racing negative thoughts. Guided meditations can be an excellent starting point to maintain mindfulness.

They’re available on YouTube or through numerous apps. It’s essential to note that developing a mindfulness practice requires consistency and perseverance in integrating it into daily routines.

Seek Peer Support

Knowing one is not alone in the journey to quit alcohol can aid in managing anxiety. Accessing support groups allows people to share their experiences and learn from others finding this new experience challenging.

There, individuals can gain insights on how others managed their anxiety episodes and learn tips that can help them too. Peer support creates a sense of community or solidarity, reducing the impact of anxiety related to alcohol cessation.

Find Stress-Relieving Activities

Substituting alcohol with stress-relieving activities can break the cycle of anxiety and addiction. Individuals can find healthy hobbies and self-care practices that positively contribute to their mental and physical health.

These activities nourish one’s mind and break the cycle of anxiety that alcohol dependence creates. A few examples of stress-relieving activities are nature walks, writing, cooking, painting, or listening to soothing music.

Finding what works for an individual is key and helps manage anxiety.

Reach out to a Therapist

It’s essential to seek professional help when anxiety episodes exceed one’s control and begin to impact daily activities. A qualified therapist can help identify triggers and negative thought patterns leading to anxiety; this could point to an underlying mental health issue.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can offer the tools and insights needed to manage anxiety effectively. These sessions provide a safe and professional environment where people feel comfortable sharing their experiences without judgment.

Benefits of Quitting Alcohol for Anxiety

Quitting alcohol has vast benefits for anxiety. The decision to quit alcohol allows people to focus on health instead of unhealthy coping mechanisms.

Deep-rooted dependencies and bad habits often serve as distractions, leading to suppression of the truest self. But once someone quits, they can work on restoring their core and start growing.

The following are some of the benefits of quitting alcohol for anxiety.

Increased Confidence and Self-Worth

Quitting alcohol helps one find their true self. Alcohol dependency may have overshadowed true personalities and created fake personas to fit in with peers.

Quitting grants the freedom to develop self-confidence and enforce healthy boundaries. The increase in confidence leads to a boost in self-worth, allowing individuals to tackle anxiety head-on with renewed vigor.

Focusing on Healthier Coping Mechanisms

Quitting alcohol allows one’s mind to focus on healthier coping mechanisms, leading to a renewal of better self-care practices. Individuals can explore a new world of possibilities, enjoying hobbies, and establishing a new routine free of alcohol.

This opens up the possibility of prioritizing mental health or physical wellness, improving overall well-being. In conclusion, quitting alcohol requires dedication, perseverance, and the will to establish new positive coping mechanisms.

There will be anxious moments along the way, but with mindfulness meditation, peer support that helps break cycles of anxiety, engaging in stress-relieving activities, and seeking professional help, these feelings can be managed. The benefits of quitting alcohol extend far beyond the recovery phase and translate to long-term positive changes to one’s life.


It’s essential to recognize that alcoholism is a health condition and quitting has potential medical consequences. One of the risks is severe anxiety.

It is vital to consult with licensed health care providers for medical support and management of anxiety, especially during the initial alcohol withdrawal period. Every journey is individual, and it’s important not to fall into a comparison trap.

This section of the article focuses on seeking proper medical help.

Seeking Proper Medical Help

Quitting alcohol has physical and psychological effects on the body. The physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal range from mild to life-threatening.

It’s critical to seek professional medical help if you’re experiencing severe, life-altering symptoms. Licensed health care providers are equipped with the knowledge, skills and tools to manage the critical aspects of alcohol withdrawal.

Licensed Providers

A licensed health care provider can recommend reversing negative impacts on the body due to alcoholism. They can guide individuals in developing healthy lifestyles practices depending on individual needs.

Seek out licensed health care practitioners who specialize in addiction medicine to ensure that they understand the complexities of treating addiction. The patience and trustworthiness of these professionals can significantly ease anxiety during the withdrawal stages.

Medical Emergency

It is essential to recognize when a medical emergency poses a risk. Dehydration occurs after excessive alcohol consumption.

It can be alleviated by drinking fluids or taking oral rehydration solutions. Over-indulged alcohol can cause seizures, lose muscle coordination like hallucination, and delusion.

These symptoms that require immediate medical attention. Common complications of withdrawal from alcohol include high fever, seizure, and delirium.

Delirium tremens is a severe medical emergency condition that occurs in alcohol withdrawal, characterized by severe confusion, hallucinations, and seizures. It’s critical to create relationships with licensed providers who can address these issues promptly.

An established relationship with a health care provider can mitigate the risk of medical emergencies and reduce anxiety about the medical consequences of quitting alcohol.


Before undertaking any significant lifestyle change that involves quitting alcohol, it’s essential to recognize the challenges presented. Severe anxiety during alcohol withdrawal is a critical issue that requires a holistic approach.

Seek support groups, focus on healthy coping strategies, and engage in self-care practices to manage anxiety. It’s essential to take the time to develop a daily routine that serves the body positively and speaks to the soul’s needs.

Finally, establishing a relationship with licensed health care practitioners provides a safety blanket for any potential medical emergency that may occur. Deciding to quit alcohol is tough, but every day free of alcohol achievements, milestones are met, and greater emotional and mental stability is often found.

In conclusion, quitting alcohol can be a challenging process, and it is common to experience anxiety during withdrawal. Engaging in mindfulness practices, seeking peer support, finding stress-relieving activities, and reaching out to a therapist can aid in managing the anxiety.

Quitting alcohol offers significant benefits, including increased confidence and self-worth, and focusing on healthier coping mechanisms and overall well-being. Remember that seeking proper medical help when experiencing severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal is crucial.

Check out these FAQs below to answer common questions or concerns that may arise:

– What is self-medication, and how does it relate to anxiety and alcohol dependence? Self-medication is the use of substances to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions.

In the case of alcoholism, people may turn to alcohol to alleviate anxiety symptoms, creating a dependency over time. – How long will anxiety last after quitting alcohol?

Anxiety symptoms typically peak within the first 24 hours and gradually decrease through PAWS, which can last for several months. – What are some effective strategies for managing anxiety when quitting alcohol?

Effective anxiety management strategies include engaging in mindfulness practices, seeking peer support, finding stress-relieving activities, and reaching out to a therapist.

– What are some potential medical risks of quitting alcohol?

Potential medical risks of quitting alcohol include severe physical symptoms such as seizures, delirium tremens, and dehydration. It’s essential to seek proper medical help if these symptoms arise.

– What are some benefits of quitting alcohol related to anxiety? Quitting alcohol can lead to increased self-confidence and self-worth, focusing on healthier coping mechanisms, and overall well-being.

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