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The Effects of Alcohol on Emotional Stability and Mood Swings
Alcohol and Mental Health

The Effects of Alcohol on Emotional Stability and Mood Swings

June 25, 2024
7 min read
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A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
June 25, 2024
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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.
June 25, 2024
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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.
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Reframe Content Team
June 25, 2024
7 min read

Alcohol consumption has long been associated with social gatherings and relaxation, but its impact on emotional stability and mood swings is profound and often underappreciated. Understanding how alcohol affects our emotions can be crucial for those looking to build healthier drinking habits and reframe their relationship with alcohol. This article delves into the psychological and emotional effects of alcohol, shedding light on why it may lead to mood swings and emotional instability.

The Science Behind Alcohol and Mood Swings

The Effects of Alcohol on Emotional Stability and Mood Swings

Alcohol interacts with neurotransmitters in the brain, which are chemical messengers crucial for regulating mood. Specifically, alcohol enhances the inhibitory effects of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and reduces the excitatory impact of glutamate. Initially, this chemical interplay results in feelings of relaxation and euphoria, but as the effects wear off, the balance shifts, leading to an overactive glutamate system and an underactive GABA system. This abrupt shift can trigger feelings of restlessness, irritability, and mood swings the next day.

For a more detailed exploration of this topic, you might want to read our article on Why Does Alcohol Give Me Mood Swings the Next Day?.

Sleep and Mood

Alcohol's impact on sleep is another critical factor in emotional stability. While alcohol might help you fall asleep faster, it disrupts the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep stage, which is crucial for restorative sleep. Poor sleep can lead to fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and lower mood, all contributing to mood swings.

Dehydration and Emotional Health

Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it increases urination and leads to substantial fluid loss. Dehydration doesn't just result in physical symptoms like headaches and dizziness; it also affects mood. Studies have shown that even mild dehydration can increase anxiety and irritability, while severe dehydration can significantly impact cognitive function and mood.

Blood Sugar Levels

Alcohol's impact on blood sugar levels is another significant aspect to consider. Drinking can cause blood sugar levels to rise and then abruptly fall, leading to symptoms of fatigue, weakness, and mood swings. Maintaining stable blood sugar levels is crucial not only for physical well-being but also for emotional health.

Long-term Emotional Effects of Alcohol

Chronic alcohol consumption can lead to more severe emotional and psychological issues. It can exacerbate symptoms of depression and anxiety, leading to a vicious cycle where individuals drink to alleviate emotional pain, only to find their symptoms worsening over time. This cycle can also impact relationships, work performance, and overall quality of life.

For more insights into recognizing the signs that you might be drinking too much, check out our article on 8 Signs Your Body Wants You To Drink Less.

Cutting Back on Alcohol and Emotional Stability

Reducing alcohol consumption can be a daunting task, especially if you've been using alcohol as a coping mechanism. However, cutting back can lead to significant improvements in emotional stability and overall well-being. When you drink less, you're likely to experience better sleep, improved mood, and enhanced cognitive function.

It’s essential to approach this change with patience and self-compassion. Understand that cutting back won't stabilize your emotions overnight. It takes time to adjust to the changing emotional landscape and develop new coping strategies.

For practical strategies on how to cut back on alcohol and improve your emotional health, you might find our guide on How Cutting Back on Alcohol Affects Your Emotions helpful.

Practical Tips for Emotional Stability

  1. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water to counteract the dehydrating effects of alcohol.
  2. Eat Balanced Meals: Maintain stable blood sugar levels by eating nutritious meals before and after drinking.
  3. Get Quality Sleep: Prioritize good sleep hygiene to mitigate the disruptive effects of alcohol on your sleep cycle.
  4. Practice Self-Compassion: Be kind to yourself as you navigate the emotional ups and downs of reducing alcohol consumption.
  5. Seek Support: Connect with friends, family, or support groups who understand what you're going through.


Understanding the effects of alcohol on emotional stability and mood swings is crucial for anyone looking to build healthier drinking habits. By recognizing how alcohol interacts with your brain, sleep, hydration, and blood sugar levels, you can take proactive steps to mitigate its negative impact on your emotional health. Reducing alcohol consumption is a journey that requires patience, self-compassion, and support, but the benefits to your emotional well-being are well worth the effort.

Master Your Triggers

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 chat 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 today!

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At Reframe, we do science, not stigma. We base our articles on the latest peer-reviewed research in psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral science. We follow the Reframe Content Creation Guidelines, to ensure that we share accurate and actionable information with our readers. This aids them in making informed decisions on their wellness journey.
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