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Drinking Habits

Dangers of Drinking Alcohol in the Morning

April 17, 2024
12 min read
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Written by
Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
April 17, 2024
12 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
April 17, 2024
12 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
April 17, 2024
12 min read
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Reframe Content Team
April 17, 2024
12 min read

Alcohol in the Morning: A Dangerous Idea?

  • An occasional drink in the morning can seem harmless, but it sets us up for a difficult day. Drinking in the morning may be a sign of alcohol use disorder.

  • Seek out healthier alternatives, counseling, and support to get through the day without alcohol. 
  • If you’re worried about relying on alcohol to get through the day, Reframe can help you examine your habits and develop a strategy to boost your well-being.

From time to time, we may like to start our day off with a little buzz. A couple of mimosas or a Bloody Mary might just hit the spot for today. It’s the weekend; it won’t hurt. But then Monday rolls around, and we are craving some spirits to get us ready for the day. If I put a splash of Baileys in my coffee, would anyone know? 

Keep reading to understand how an occasional drink can lead us down a dangerous path. 

Drinking in the Morning

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We might enjoy occasional breakfast drinks; alcohol can take the edge off a particularly stressful day, maybe the day of a wedding or funeral. Mimosas with friends may seem like the perfect start to the weekend. If we find ourselves habitually drinking cocktails in the morning, however, it might be a sign of alcohol dependence or misuse (more on that later!). 

For now, let’s cover some reasons we might be drinking alcohol in the morning: 

  • Special occasions. Maybe we are out with friends celebrating with brunch and mimosas, or we are enjoying a morning Bloody Mary with our partner. In some cultures and social circles, it’s acceptable to drink in the morning on special occasions. 

  • Hangovers. Some believe in the concept of the “hair of the dog,” which suggests that consuming alcohol in the morning can alleviate hangover symptoms. Drinking to relieve hangover symptoms does not cure a hangover; it prolongs it. 

  • Stress. We might use alcohol to deal with stress, anxiety, or depression symptoms. We might start the morning drunk to numb our feelings or escape reality. 

  • Night shift. If we work a night shift job, our mornings may be more like an evening, so unwinding from work happens in the morning hours.

  • Alcohol dependence. Chronic alcohol use can lead to physical dependence on alcohol. When we don’t have alcohol in our system, we will experience withdrawal symptoms. We then drink alcohol to alleviate those withdrawal symptoms. 

There are many reasons why people drink in the morning, so what’s the problem?

What Morning Alcohol Does to Us

An occasional drink in the morning may seem harmless, but alcohol in the morning can have a significant impact on our day: 

  • Impairs cognitive function. Alcohol can decrease our cognitive function, increase impulsivity, worsen our memory, decrease our alertness, and reduce our ability to make decisions. Is that how we want to show up to work? 

  • Impacts mental health. Although we may get temporary relief from our stress, anxiety, and depression after drinking alcohol, in the long term, it makes our mental health worse. 

  • Increases risk for accidents. With our judgment, cognitive abilities, and coordination impaired by alcohol, we increase our chances of getting injured throughout our daily activities, especially if those include driving or operating other machinery. 

  • Creates issues at work. If we are drinking in the morning before work, our performance at work will likely be impacted by our reduced cognitive function and motor skills. 

Drinking alcohol in the morning can impact our entire day, but it depends on the amount we drink and how often we drink in the morning. Not every person who consumes alcohol in the morning will experience all of the things listed above, but it is important to understand the risks of consuming morning alcoholic drinks. 

Risks of Morning Alcoholic Drinks

There are several risks associated with drinking alcohol in the morning. Aside from affecting our entire day, morning drinking can lead to serious damage to our overall health and well-being. 

Developing Alcohol Use Disorder 

Beginning our mornings drinking alcohol can lead to unhealthy habits — like drinking all day. We might drink all day to avoid having a hangover in the middle of the day, but that cycle can just continue to avoid those alcohol side effects. As this cycle of drinking all or most of the day continues, it may be a sign of alcohol use disorder (AUD). 

AUD is defined as the inability to stop or control alcohol use despite the adverse effects drinking may be having on our social life, occupation, or health. It is important to be aware of the signs of AUD, such as drinking instead of meeting obligations or other responsibilities, drinking alone or in secrecy, or feeling hungover when not drinking. Check out this article from NIH for a more comprehensive list of signs we might be misusing alcohol. 

Faster Absorption and Increased Side Effects

Drinking alcohol to start our day probably means we’re drinking on an empty stomach. When we consume alcohol, it passes through our stomach and is absorbed in the small intestine. When our stomach is empty, the alcohol is absorbed or passed through more quickly. The faster the absorption of the alcohol, the more intense we will feel the effects of drinking. Drinking without food in our stomach can lead to more damage to our stomach, liver, or esophagus. 

Domino Effect 

Morning drinking can easily start a domino effect on our health. First, we have one drink at breakfast. Then one at lunch. Then a few at happy hour. Then one to wind down for the night. Starting in the morning can quickly lead to chronic alcohol use, which can lead to a host of health problems, including liver disease, cardiovascular issues, gastrointestinal problems, cancers, or mental health issues. Furthermore, alcohol can disrupt our sleep, and sleep problems can lead to further general and mental health problems. And as much as it affects our health, it also affects our relationships, work, and all other aspects of our life.

Accidents and Legal Troubles

Consuming morning alcohol can decrease our alertness and slow our reaction times. With less awareness and mobility, our chances of accidents and injury increase. If we get behind the wheel or have to complete physical labor at work, we are putting ourselves at greater risk of injuring ourselves or others, which puts us at greater risk of losing our job, getting sued, getting a DWI, going to jail, and all the other dominoes that might fall. 

The risks associated with morning drinking can negatively affect our lives. Let’s discover some ways to stop our morning drinking and prevent some harmful behaviors.

How To Stop Morning Drinking

How To Stop Morning Drinking

Stopping drinking is not easy, but there are so many benefits that accompany sobriety. Let’s review some tips on how we can stop drinking in the morning. 

  • Find alternative coping strategies. If we are starting our morning with alcohol as a coping strategy, try alternative things such as yoga, exercise, therapy, or talking to a doctor about medications. 
  • Opt for alcohol-free drinks. Try alcohol-free alternatives like mocktails, virgin Bloody Marys, or adding sparkling water or non-alcoholic seltzer to orange juice. These allow you to skip the booze without feeling left out.
  • Seek out social support. Share our goals with trusted friends, family members, or support groups that can help hold us accountable and encourage us throughout our journey. 
  • Utilize available resources. Technology allows us to access endless resources right in the palm of our hand. There are many apps and helpful tools for us to use (of course, we recommend Reframe!).

Key Takeaways

Drinking in the morning can lead to unhealthy habits, increase our likelihood of accidents, or start the cycle of alcohol misuse or AUD. No matter the reason we are drinking in the morning, if it becomes a habit, we can put ourselves in harm's way. 

Reclaim Your Mornings With Reframe

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 forum and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today! 

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