Alcohol is no stranger on college campuses. Many students turn to alcohol as a means of socialization and relaxation. Unfortunately, alcohol can have a significant impact on anxiety, which is a common mental health concern at this time of life.
College can be stressful. We know this. Academic pressures, social expectations, financial pressures, and personal identity development are all common sources of stress. And these stressors lead some students to use alcohol as a coping mechanism. Due to its initial euphoria and relation effect, alcohol may provide temporary relief from stress and anxiety, but this relief comes at a high cost.
Here are a few ways in which alcohol can negatively impact anxiety in college students:
Increased AnxietyAlthough alcohol may provide temporary relief, it can lead to “rebound” anxiety as the effects wear off. This rebound effect often results in intensified feelings of anxiety, potentially exacerbating any underlying mental health issues.
Impaired Decision-MakingExcessive alcohol consumption impairs judgment and decision-making. This can lead to risky behaviors that will only further exacerbate anxiety. These behaviors include engaging in riskier sex, driving under the influence, or getting into both verbal and physical conflicts.
Physical Health ConsequencesAlcohol abuse can lead to physical health problems, such as liver damage, obesity, inflammation, and weakened immune function. These health issues will only serve to magnify feelings of anxiety and distress.
Social ConsequencesAlcohol abuse can strain relationships, damage reputations, and isolate individuals from crucial social support systems.
Academic ImpactExcessive drinking can result in reduced academic performance. This, in turn, creates or intensifies anxiety related to grades and future life plans.
Dr. Wayne Bullock is a compassionate, experienced, and licensed counselor in Washington D.C. specializing in the needs of gay men and the LGBTQ community. Wayne's expertise includes helping college students affected by anxiety, depression, and trauma.