Episode 429 – The Connection Between Alcohol and Anxiety


Today we have Dale, he is 55, from Roanoke, VA and he has been alcohol free since March 23, 2019


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[02:34] Paul’s thoughts:


Paul knows now that there is a connection between his drinking and his anxiety but while actively drinking, he could not. We are told that alcohol relaxes us – which it does by shutting down important parts of our brain.


According to Dr. Sheila Shilati,”Alcohol ultimately replaces those important chemicals like dopamine and serotonin in the brain, which mitigate anxiety, therefore, in episodes where you are not drinking, then your brain is searching for those all-important ‘feel-good’ connections, which become diminished because the supply has been mitigated,”


We hear a lot about “self-medicating” in recovery. Which isn’t a bad thing, but when we rely too much on this strategy, it stops working. This becomes an even bigger problem because we don’t realize it so we just drink more and now our coping strategy is becoming the reason we can’t cope.


Paul shares in episode 417, this is the best place you can be because the tipping point isn’t far off in the distance.


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[10:48] Paul introduces Dale:


Dale is 55, lives in southwest Virginia, has been married for 25 years with no children. He works for a shipping company and also owns and manages rental property. Dale enjoys music of all varieties, loves reading and learning and also enjoys gardening.


Dale’s first experiences with alcohol came from his parents using it to medicate him as a child. He worked in the hospitality industry in his late teens and early twenties and drinking was a glorified part of the lifestyle. His tolerance grew and he became a daily drinker throughout that time.


The recent years found Dale questioning his drinking and realizing he wasn’t living life within his values. He had sneakily drunk some of his wife’s special whiskey which prompted an angry text to Dale. He used this message as motivation and although he was not able to quit right away Dale feels this was the start of his recovery.


Dale has found self-awareness to be a catalyst to helping him stop drinking. He has utilized Recovery Elevator and the Café RE community as a large part of his journey. It was a scary first step for him, but he found getting out of his comfort zone to be very helpful. He has made many friends that have helped him move forward and be strong in his sobriety. Focusing on the good has been an important tool for Dale, specifically in the early days. As he closed in on a year, he felt the veil had been lifted and he was seeing the world differently.


Year two for Dale was unpacking everything that led him to drink so much in the first place. He feels that was the mucky part of the journey and it is a process to unpack it.


Year three Dale feels that learning to let go of control was a big thing. Learning that life is going to happen, and he didn’t have to cling so tightly to everything. He finds that the service work he does in the community has helped him deal with life as it happens while approaching the four-year milestone.


Dale feels that success comes by building the wall one brick at a time, stepping outside of the comfort zone and being willing to learn. He also feels that service work helps strengthen us and keep us connected to our foundation.


[53:36] Closing thoughts:


Paul’s tips for dealing with anxiety without alcohol:


Perception – anxiety pangs are messengers. Your body is sending you signals that something is off balance. Tell your body this will pass and will soften with each passing day or month.


Get the body moving to cue the release of endorphins whose purpose is to mask physical and emotional pain.


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