What is relaxation? It is having no aggravations, nothing to irk or bother you. Can alcohol remove aggravations from your life? It does not fix the annoyances but temporarily dulls the symptoms as you build a tolerance. In other words, the actual effect of alcohol decreases, and your need for it increases. Soon the aggravations are barely muted, and you may be closer to becoming a problem drinker. Of course, problem drinking can become a much bigger stressor than the stresses you drank to overcome. You have created a mental craving for alcohol that did not exist before that you now either have to feed with more alcohol or deprive.
Wanting something you should not have does nothing to relax you. It creates more stress and increases aggravation. Trying to drink your problems away ensures you will not address the true source(s) of your discontent. It ensures you will remain trapped in a buildup of stress, dulling your symptoms of stress rather than addressing its cause. Things go from bad to worse when you add alcohol problems to the mix.
You achieve relaxation by removing the source of discontent. Alcohol, by definition, cannot relax you as much as numb you.
So why do we believe alcohol helps stress and anxiety? Because it deadens your senses, alcohol can make you oblivious to your stresses even when it’s worsening them. You already know that when you sober up, unless you have done something to actually improve the situation, your stress remains or has worsened.
It is impossible to eliminate stress from our lives completely. It is, therefore, important that we develop strategies for managing it. Substance abuse is never a good way to deal with stress.
If you find yourself in any of these situations, please reach out for help. Call me at Psychological Services Bureau, Substance Abuse Resource Program, at (213) 738-3500. Information and services are available to you, your spouse and your family, and it’s free.
If you are a sworn member, POF (Peace Officers Fellowship) is available. You can contact one of the members above and they will be more than happy to assist a fellow deputy. If you are nonsworn, feel free to contact me for AA meeting resources.