UA-63899747-1 Consuming Alcohol for Relaxation – Nzinga Harrison, MD
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My husband seems to need alcohol in order to "relax", he says it's not an issue - but I have my doubts. Should I be concerned?

My husband seems to need alcohol in order to "relax", he says it's not an issue - but I have my doubts. Should I be concerned?

You are right to be concerned.  With problematic drinking, friends and loved ones often recognize the problem for the individual who is drinking.   Individuals often drink alcohol to help them relax.  In fact, it works in the same part of the brain as some anxiety medications we prescribe called benzodiazepines.  However, when alcohol drinking to relax becomes a regular occurrence, it is definitely something to be concerned about.  For your husband, I would recommend two things.  First, try to identify stressors that could be contributing to his inability to relax and work on getting them resolved.  Second, talk with a physician--either a primary care doctor or psychiatrist to see if there is an underlying anxiety or depression that could be treated, and therefore resolve your husband's need to use alcohol to relax.  Although it may be difficult to approach him about the subject, it is always better to do it at the first sign of a problem, as it often continues to get worse and worse if untreated.

Finally, being in a relationship with someone who is drinking too much can be extremely emotionally difficult.  Make sure you put a plan in place to keep yourself healthy as well.  A good guide to doing so is Alcoholic Spouse: Coping With An Alcoholic Husband or Wife (Coping With Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Book 3)

Even if you don't think think fully has alcoholism, there are great tips in there for keeping you grounded and centered as you guys figure this out.

Best Wishes,

-Dr. H

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