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2023-07-30 9:00
Alcohol and Mental Health
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10 Alcohol Intolerance Symptoms To Be Aware of
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Alcohol intolerance — caused primarily by a deficiency in the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase —- can lead to skin flushing, an upset stomach, rapid heartbeat, sinus issues, headaches, low blood pressure, diarrhea, shortness of breath, hot flashes, and itchiness.

20 min read

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When it comes to alcohol, it’s important to listen to your body to know what’s best for your health — and the Reframe app is here to help! While it’s not a cure for alcohol use disorder (AUD), our program is designed to aid you in gradually reducing your alcohol intake by using scientifically supported information to inform and inspire you every step of the way. Our tried-and-tested approach has positively impacted hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, enabling them to drink less and enjoy life more. We're excited to offer you the same help!

Reframe provides you with the necessary knowledge and tools to not only decrease your alcohol consumption, but to flourish throughout the process. Our daily scientifically-supported readings tell you all about the brain science behind alcohol use, while our Toolkit gives you helpful resources and exercises to tackle any obstacle you might face on the way.

You'll have the chance to connect with countless other Reframers via our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-ins. Get inspired by people across the globe who truly understand your journey! For more personalized support, you also have the option to get in touch with our certified Reframe coaches.

Moreover, we're always adding new features to enhance your in-app experience. We're thrilled to introduce Melody, our newly integrated chatbot built with the most advanced AI technology. Melody can help you in your transition to a life with less — or no — alcohol.

But that's not all! We offer engaging monthly challenges, such as Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. Don't miss the opportunity to join in with other Reframers — or go at it alone if that suits you better!

With a free trial for the first 7 days, there's absolutely no risk in giving the Reframe app a shot. Are you ready to feel empowered and explore a life with less reliance on alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

Read Full Article  →

It feels like a bizarre time warp. You take a few sips of wine, a shot of tequila, or gulp down a beer, and your body responds with a full-out protest: instead of feeling mellow, you turn bright red, feel uncomfortably hot, and get that thumping, rapid heartbeat. What is this? A freakishly early hangover? No way — that’s not due for at least another few hours. You might chalk it up to a bad day or a sensitive stomach, but the real reason could be hiding in plain sight: alcohol intolerance.

We all know that drinking too much can leave us feeling less than stellar, but when that “ick” comes on after just a drink or two, it means there’s something deeper going on. Let's unpack the ten common symptoms of this condition and explore some ways we can manage it. 

What Causes Alcohol Intolerance?

Simply put, alcohol intolerance is the body’s adverse reaction to alcohol. While facial flushing, nausea, headaches, a stuffy nose, and itchiness are the most common symptoms, low blood pressure, high heart rate, diarrhea, hot flashes, and shortness of breath are typical as well. It's largely a genetic issue, caused by an inability to metabolize alcohol properly. The culprit? An enzyme called aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), which (normally) works together with another enzyme — alcohol dehydrogenase — to metabolize alcohol in the liver.

When everything is functioning as it should, alcohol dehydrogenase breaks down alcohol into a substance called acetaldehyde — a highly reactive, toxic compound that's a main player in causing hangover symptoms and is more toxic than alcohol itself. Next, aldehyde dehydrogenase quickly steps in and converts the toxin into a harmless substance called acetic acid, a compound similar to vinegar. Once formed, acetic acid becomes a metabolic substrate: the body uses it for energy and expels the byproducts easily, without any harmful effects.

However, a problem arises when there's a deficiency or malfunction of ALDH, the enzyme involved in these conversion processes. When ALDH doesn't function properly (or when its levels are lower than normal due to genetic factors), acetaldehyde doesn't get converted into acetic acid efficiently. As a result, it accumulates in the bloodstream, leading to a range of unpleasant symptoms we identify as alcohol intolerance.

Acetaldehyde can irritate and inflame the lining of the stomach and intestines, which might exacerbate gastritis — causing nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain. In some people, an accumulation of acetaldehyde stimulates the release of histamines, causing symptoms similar to allergic reactions, such as itching, congestion, and difficulty breathing.

At elevated levels, acetaldehyde can affect the brain and nervous system, potentially causing mood changes, memory gaps, and impaired motor functions. Chronic exposure to elevated levels of acetaldehyde has even been linked to an increased risk of certain cancers, especially esophageal cancer.

A Tale of Four Booze Mishaps

Before diving deeper into alcohol intolerance, let’s discuss the differences among four alcohol-related issues that can have overlapping symptoms (many of which are linked to alcohol metabolism). They can be easy to confuse, but these issues aren’t quite identical:

  • Alcohol intolerance: the body is saying, "Sorry, I can't process this." Just as some people can't process dairy or gluten, some of us can't metabolize alcohol effectively. It's often due to a genetic enzyme deficiency.
  • Symptoms include flushing of the skin, rapid heartbeat, nasal congestion, nausea or upset stomach, and itchy eyes or skin. Avoiding or limiting alcohol is the best bet. If unsure, consult with a doctor.
  • Hangover: the body is complaining, “You had too much!” After the alcohol's euphoria wears off, what's often left is the hangover — the body's reaction to dehydration, the toxic by-products of alcohol, and alcohol’s effect on our immune system.
  • Symptoms include headache and muscle aches, fatigue, thirst and dry mouth, nausea, stomach pain, or vomiting, poor sleep, sensitivity to light and sound, and dizziness. The solution? Drink water to rehydrate, eat nutrient-rich foods, and rest. Prevention by moderating alcohol intake remains the best cure.
  • Alcohol withdrawal: the body is asking, "Hey, where's my usual drink?" If someone drinks heavily and regularly, their body becomes accustomed to having alcohol in its system. When they suddenly stop or cut down, the body can react with withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety or depression, fatigue, shaky hands, headache, nausea or vomiting, sweating or fast pulse, insomnia, and nightmares. Alcohol withdrawal can be serious, especially if symptoms include hallucinations or seizures. It's crucial to consult a doctor or medical professional if considering cutting back after heavy, prolonged alcohol use.
  • Alcohol poisoning is the body screaming, "Help! System overload!" Alcohol poisoning happens when someone drinks a large amount of alcohol in a short time. Their blood alcohol concentration reaches toxic levels, and critical areas of the brain controlling breathing, heart rate, and temperature can slow and even shut down.
  • Symptoms include confusion or stupor, vomiting, seizures, slow or irregular breathing, hypothermia, and (yikes!) unconsciousness. Unlike intolerance, hangovers, and (in most cases) withdrawal, alcohol poisoning is a medical emergency. If you suspect someone has alcohol poisoning, call emergency services immediately. While waiting, try to keep the person awake and sitting up, and never leave them alone.

Spot the Symptoms

Now, let’s explore the ten most common symptoms of alcohol intolerance, which can affect various body systems but stem from the same trigger — the inability to process alcohol effectively.

Symptom 1: Nausea 

Wrestling with nausea after just a drink or two? You might be dealing with alcohol intolerance. The body processes alcohol in the liver using enzymes that convert it to other compounds. However, the buildup of one compound, acetaldehyde, can lead to nausea in those with alcohol intolerance. 

Moreover, alcohol causes inflammation and irritation of the stomach lining. This inflammation — known as gastritis — can result in discomfort, pain, nausea, and, in severe cases, vomiting. The higher the alcohol content in a drink, the greater the likelihood and severity of nausea.

Symptom 2: Flushing of the Skin

Notice your skin getting red after a sip of Merlot? This flushing can also be one of the first signs of alcohol intolerance. Once again, it’s the result of acetaldehyde accumulation, which dilates our blood vessels. This reaction is highly prevalent in people of East Asian descent, with approximately 36% of Japanese, Chinese, and Korean populations experiencing this flush response. However, it's important to remember that alcohol intolerance isn't exclusive to any particular ethnicity — in fact, as many as 540 million people around the world have a genetic ALDH2 deficiency that results in face flushing. That’s roughly 8% of the entire population!

Facial flushing can be an uncomfortable and embarrassing reaction to alcohol, but it's also a helpful indicator of alcohol intolerance. It's the body's way of signaling that it's struggling to process alcohol. So while the alcohol-induced blush might seem like a mere cosmetic concern, it's a window into the body's internal processes and potential health risks. 

When it comes to this particular symptom, a risk that’s most concerning is the possible link to cancer of the esophagus. A 2017 study found a correlation between the two, suggesting that face flushing might be a warning sign of being at higher risk for the disease.

Recognize alcohol intolerance with these 10 signs
Symptom 3: Rapid Heartbeat. 

Ever had a racing heartbeat that comes out of nowhere after having a few sips? It could be another sign of alcohol intolerance. Once again, the main culprit is acetaldehyde, which has been linked to blood vessel dilation due to changes in heart rate. Rising acetaldehyde levels throw off the electrical signals in the heart, leading to an increased heart rate (tachycardia). Elevated acetaldehyde can also induce palpitations — the fluttering sensation that feels like skipped beats or forceful thumping.

While acetaldehyde plays a significant role in alcohol-induced tachycardia, it's not the sole player. Alcohol itself has a direct effect on the heart and blood vessels by triggering the release of stress hormones such as adrenaline, which stimulates the heart to beat faster. Additionally, dehydration caused by alcohol can concentrate the blood, making the heart work harder to pump it and resulting in an increased heart rate.

Symptom 4: Runny or Stuffy Nose. 

Some people might find their nose blocked or running after drinking alcohol. This is because alcohol can cause the blood vessels inside the nose to swell, producing more mucus and causing symptoms similar to a cold or allergic rhinitis. This symptom of alcohol intolerance is especially common with wine.

Symptom 5: Headaches. 

Headaches are one of the most reported symptoms of alcohol intolerance. Alcohol triggers blood vessels in our brain to expand, leading to an all-too-familiar pounding pain. Dehydration caused by alcohol also contributes to these headaches.

Symptom 6: Lowered Blood Pressure. 

While many people know that long-term alcohol use can raise blood pressure, in the short term — and particularly in cases of alcohol intolerance — blood pressure can actually drop. This can lead to dizziness or even fainting.

It's essential to recognize symptoms associated with a sudden drop in blood pressure after drinking. In addition to dizziness, these might include blurred vision, nausea, fatigue, and lack of concentration caused by a decrease in blood flow to the brain.

Symptom 7: Diarrhea. 

Alcohol speeds up digestion, causing the muscles in the intestines to contract more often and leading to diarrhea. Moreover, alcohol can lead to an inflammatory response in the gut, which can exacerbate the effect.

Certain types of alcohol may be more likely to cause diarrhea than others. For instance, high-sugar drinks can pull water from the intestines, leading to loose stools. Beverages high in caffeine — such as certain liqueurs or mixers — can stimulate muscle contractions in the intestines, increasing the speed of digestion.

Symptom 8: Hot Flashes. 

A sudden feeling of warmth can indicate the body's inability to process alcohol. This effect can occur due to alcohol’s vasodilatory effect, making the skin feel unusually warm for a time.

This sensation might be accompanied by sweating as the body attempts to cool itself down, and it can be followed by chills as the effects of the alcohol wear off. Certain types of alcohol —such as red wine — may be more likely to cause hot flashes than others due to chemicals that affect the body's ability to regulate temperature.

Symptom 9: Shortness of Breath. 

In some cases, alcohol intolerance can cause the body to release histamines, similar to what happens in an allergic reaction. This response can lead to inflamed airways and difficulty breathing.

If you or someone you know experiences difficulty breathing after consuming alcohol, seek immediate medical attention. This symptom should always be taken seriously, as it can quickly escalate. 

Symptom 10: Itchy Skin, Eyes, Nose, or Mouth. 

Less intense than shortness of breath, these other classic signs of an allergic reaction can occur with alcohol intolerance due to histamine release in response to certain components found in alcoholic beverages. Histamine is a compound involved in immune responses, leading to the classic symptoms of allergies: itching, redness, and swelling in the eyes, nose, and mouth. Itchiness can also be accompanied by other allergic reactions — rashes or hives, swelling (especially around the eyes, lips, or the entire face), watery eyes, sneezing, or nasal congestion.

Some people are allergic to specific ingredients found in some alcoholic beverages. For instance, wines and beers often contain sulfites, preservatives that can trigger allergy-like symptoms.

Steps for Managing Alcohol Intolerance

If you think you might have alcohol intolerance, the first step is to speak with a healthcare professional. They can provide guidance and run any necessary tests to rule out other conditions.

From there, we can take a number of steps to mitigate symptoms and navigate social situations with grace and ease.

  • Reduce Alcohol Intake. The most obvious (but sometimes most challenging!) step is to reduce your alcohol intake. Every little difference counts, so cut down a bit at a time.
  • Hydrate. Alternating between alcoholic drinks and water can help mitigate symptoms and reduce the overall amount of alcohol consumed.
  • Choose Wisely. Some alcoholic beverages may trigger symptoms more than others. You might find, for example, that while beer sets off symptoms, wine does not. It's a process of trial and error to find out what works best for your body. Take note of reactions as they arise, and adjust your order accordingly.
  • Eat First. Having food in your stomach can help slow the absorption of alcohol. Let's not drink on an empty stomach! Also, if you do choose to drink, keep in mind that eating certain foods before drinking can help us absorb and metabolize alcohol. For example, foods rich in fructose, like honey or apples, can do the trick.
  • Listen to Your Body. Every body is unique, and it's vital that you listen to yours. If you notice a certain symptom flaring up, take it as a sign to slow down or call it quits for the evening.
  • Get curious. Consider attending workshops or seminars that focus on understanding and managing alcohol intolerance — knowledge is power! Engaging in community forums online can also provide support, shared experiences, and new coping techniques.
  • Find Support. If cutting back or quitting is difficult, remember that help is available. From support groups to therapy or online communities, there are many resources to lean on. We at Reframe would be happy to help!

Adventure Awaits

Being aware of alcohol intolerance and its symptoms lets us make informed decisions about our alcohol consumption. We're all striving to live our healthiest, happiest lives — and knowing what's going on in our bodies is a big part of that journey. 

But it’s not just about identifying what our bodies can’t handle — it’s a fresh perspective on understanding our unique constitutions. In many ways, this newfound knowledge is like receiving a personalized roadmap to a more vibrant, energized, and joyful life.

Understanding our body’s signals opens doors to new experiences, tastes, and adventures. Maybe it’s sipping on alcohol-free cocktails that surprise our palate, attending fun mocktail mixers, or even just relishing the clarity and energy of an alcohol-free evening out with friends.

The beauty of this awareness is that it empowers us to make choices that enhance our well-being, while still cherishing those festive, celebratory moments. Recognizing the signs of alcohol intolerance is not a limitation! It’s an invitation to a world of expanded possibilities. It’s all about celebrating life in a way that resonates with our truest selves. 

It feels like a bizarre time warp. You take a few sips of wine, a shot of tequila, or gulp down a beer, and your body responds with a full-out protest: instead of feeling mellow, you turn bright red, feel uncomfortably hot, and get that thumping, rapid heartbeat. What is this? A freakishly early hangover? No way — that’s not due for at least another few hours. You might chalk it up to a bad day or a sensitive stomach, but the real reason could be hiding in plain sight: alcohol intolerance.

We all know that drinking too much can leave us feeling less than stellar, but when that “ick” comes on after just a drink or two, it means there’s something deeper going on. Let's unpack the ten common symptoms of this condition and explore some ways we can manage it. 

What Causes Alcohol Intolerance?

Simply put, alcohol intolerance is the body’s adverse reaction to alcohol. While facial flushing, nausea, headaches, a stuffy nose, and itchiness are the most common symptoms, low blood pressure, high heart rate, diarrhea, hot flashes, and shortness of breath are typical as well. It's largely a genetic issue, caused by an inability to metabolize alcohol properly. The culprit? An enzyme called aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), which (normally) works together with another enzyme — alcohol dehydrogenase — to metabolize alcohol in the liver.

When everything is functioning as it should, alcohol dehydrogenase breaks down alcohol into a substance called acetaldehyde — a highly reactive, toxic compound that's a main player in causing hangover symptoms and is more toxic than alcohol itself. Next, aldehyde dehydrogenase quickly steps in and converts the toxin into a harmless substance called acetic acid, a compound similar to vinegar. Once formed, acetic acid becomes a metabolic substrate: the body uses it for energy and expels the byproducts easily, without any harmful effects.

However, a problem arises when there's a deficiency or malfunction of ALDH, the enzyme involved in these conversion processes. When ALDH doesn't function properly (or when its levels are lower than normal due to genetic factors), acetaldehyde doesn't get converted into acetic acid efficiently. As a result, it accumulates in the bloodstream, leading to a range of unpleasant symptoms we identify as alcohol intolerance.

Acetaldehyde can irritate and inflame the lining of the stomach and intestines, which might exacerbate gastritis — causing nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain. In some people, an accumulation of acetaldehyde stimulates the release of histamines, causing symptoms similar to allergic reactions, such as itching, congestion, and difficulty breathing.

At elevated levels, acetaldehyde can affect the brain and nervous system, potentially causing mood changes, memory gaps, and impaired motor functions. Chronic exposure to elevated levels of acetaldehyde has even been linked to an increased risk of certain cancers, especially esophageal cancer.

A Tale of Four Booze Mishaps

Before diving deeper into alcohol intolerance, let’s discuss the differences among four alcohol-related issues that can have overlapping symptoms (many of which are linked to alcohol metabolism). They can be easy to confuse, but these issues aren’t quite identical:

  • Alcohol intolerance: the body is saying, "Sorry, I can't process this." Just as some people can't process dairy or gluten, some of us can't metabolize alcohol effectively. It's often due to a genetic enzyme deficiency.
  • Symptoms include flushing of the skin, rapid heartbeat, nasal congestion, nausea or upset stomach, and itchy eyes or skin. Avoiding or limiting alcohol is the best bet. If unsure, consult with a doctor.
  • Hangover: the body is complaining, “You had too much!” After the alcohol's euphoria wears off, what's often left is the hangover — the body's reaction to dehydration, the toxic by-products of alcohol, and alcohol’s effect on our immune system.
  • Symptoms include headache and muscle aches, fatigue, thirst and dry mouth, nausea, stomach pain, or vomiting, poor sleep, sensitivity to light and sound, and dizziness. The solution? Drink water to rehydrate, eat nutrient-rich foods, and rest. Prevention by moderating alcohol intake remains the best cure.
  • Alcohol withdrawal: the body is asking, "Hey, where's my usual drink?" If someone drinks heavily and regularly, their body becomes accustomed to having alcohol in its system. When they suddenly stop or cut down, the body can react with withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety or depression, fatigue, shaky hands, headache, nausea or vomiting, sweating or fast pulse, insomnia, and nightmares. Alcohol withdrawal can be serious, especially if symptoms include hallucinations or seizures. It's crucial to consult a doctor or medical professional if considering cutting back after heavy, prolonged alcohol use.
  • Alcohol poisoning is the body screaming, "Help! System overload!" Alcohol poisoning happens when someone drinks a large amount of alcohol in a short time. Their blood alcohol concentration reaches toxic levels, and critical areas of the brain controlling breathing, heart rate, and temperature can slow and even shut down.
  • Symptoms include confusion or stupor, vomiting, seizures, slow or irregular breathing, hypothermia, and (yikes!) unconsciousness. Unlike intolerance, hangovers, and (in most cases) withdrawal, alcohol poisoning is a medical emergency. If you suspect someone has alcohol poisoning, call emergency services immediately. While waiting, try to keep the person awake and sitting up, and never leave them alone.

Spot the Symptoms

Now, let’s explore the ten most common symptoms of alcohol intolerance, which can affect various body systems but stem from the same trigger — the inability to process alcohol effectively.

Symptom 1: Nausea 

Wrestling with nausea after just a drink or two? You might be dealing with alcohol intolerance. The body processes alcohol in the liver using enzymes that convert it to other compounds. However, the buildup of one compound, acetaldehyde, can lead to nausea in those with alcohol intolerance. 

Moreover, alcohol causes inflammation and irritation of the stomach lining. This inflammation — known as gastritis — can result in discomfort, pain, nausea, and, in severe cases, vomiting. The higher the alcohol content in a drink, the greater the likelihood and severity of nausea.

Symptom 2: Flushing of the Skin

Notice your skin getting red after a sip of Merlot? This flushing can also be one of the first signs of alcohol intolerance. Once again, it’s the result of acetaldehyde accumulation, which dilates our blood vessels. This reaction is highly prevalent in people of East Asian descent, with approximately 36% of Japanese, Chinese, and Korean populations experiencing this flush response. However, it's important to remember that alcohol intolerance isn't exclusive to any particular ethnicity — in fact, as many as 540 million people around the world have a genetic ALDH2 deficiency that results in face flushing. That’s roughly 8% of the entire population!

Facial flushing can be an uncomfortable and embarrassing reaction to alcohol, but it's also a helpful indicator of alcohol intolerance. It's the body's way of signaling that it's struggling to process alcohol. So while the alcohol-induced blush might seem like a mere cosmetic concern, it's a window into the body's internal processes and potential health risks. 

When it comes to this particular symptom, a risk that’s most concerning is the possible link to cancer of the esophagus. A 2017 study found a correlation between the two, suggesting that face flushing might be a warning sign of being at higher risk for the disease.

Recognize alcohol intolerance with these 10 signs
Symptom 3: Rapid Heartbeat. 

Ever had a racing heartbeat that comes out of nowhere after having a few sips? It could be another sign of alcohol intolerance. Once again, the main culprit is acetaldehyde, which has been linked to blood vessel dilation due to changes in heart rate. Rising acetaldehyde levels throw off the electrical signals in the heart, leading to an increased heart rate (tachycardia). Elevated acetaldehyde can also induce palpitations — the fluttering sensation that feels like skipped beats or forceful thumping.

While acetaldehyde plays a significant role in alcohol-induced tachycardia, it's not the sole player. Alcohol itself has a direct effect on the heart and blood vessels by triggering the release of stress hormones such as adrenaline, which stimulates the heart to beat faster. Additionally, dehydration caused by alcohol can concentrate the blood, making the heart work harder to pump it and resulting in an increased heart rate.

Symptom 4: Runny or Stuffy Nose. 

Some people might find their nose blocked or running after drinking alcohol. This is because alcohol can cause the blood vessels inside the nose to swell, producing more mucus and causing symptoms similar to a cold or allergic rhinitis. This symptom of alcohol intolerance is especially common with wine.

Symptom 5: Headaches. 

Headaches are one of the most reported symptoms of alcohol intolerance. Alcohol triggers blood vessels in our brain to expand, leading to an all-too-familiar pounding pain. Dehydration caused by alcohol also contributes to these headaches.

Symptom 6: Lowered Blood Pressure. 

While many people know that long-term alcohol use can raise blood pressure, in the short term — and particularly in cases of alcohol intolerance — blood pressure can actually drop. This can lead to dizziness or even fainting.

It's essential to recognize symptoms associated with a sudden drop in blood pressure after drinking. In addition to dizziness, these might include blurred vision, nausea, fatigue, and lack of concentration caused by a decrease in blood flow to the brain.

Symptom 7: Diarrhea. 

Alcohol speeds up digestion, causing the muscles in the intestines to contract more often and leading to diarrhea. Moreover, alcohol can lead to an inflammatory response in the gut, which can exacerbate the effect.

Certain types of alcohol may be more likely to cause diarrhea than others. For instance, high-sugar drinks can pull water from the intestines, leading to loose stools. Beverages high in caffeine — such as certain liqueurs or mixers — can stimulate muscle contractions in the intestines, increasing the speed of digestion.

Symptom 8: Hot Flashes. 

A sudden feeling of warmth can indicate the body's inability to process alcohol. This effect can occur due to alcohol’s vasodilatory effect, making the skin feel unusually warm for a time.

This sensation might be accompanied by sweating as the body attempts to cool itself down, and it can be followed by chills as the effects of the alcohol wear off. Certain types of alcohol —such as red wine — may be more likely to cause hot flashes than others due to chemicals that affect the body's ability to regulate temperature.

Symptom 9: Shortness of Breath. 

In some cases, alcohol intolerance can cause the body to release histamines, similar to what happens in an allergic reaction. This response can lead to inflamed airways and difficulty breathing.

If you or someone you know experiences difficulty breathing after consuming alcohol, seek immediate medical attention. This symptom should always be taken seriously, as it can quickly escalate. 

Symptom 10: Itchy Skin, Eyes, Nose, or Mouth. 

Less intense than shortness of breath, these other classic signs of an allergic reaction can occur with alcohol intolerance due to histamine release in response to certain components found in alcoholic beverages. Histamine is a compound involved in immune responses, leading to the classic symptoms of allergies: itching, redness, and swelling in the eyes, nose, and mouth. Itchiness can also be accompanied by other allergic reactions — rashes or hives, swelling (especially around the eyes, lips, or the entire face), watery eyes, sneezing, or nasal congestion.

Some people are allergic to specific ingredients found in some alcoholic beverages. For instance, wines and beers often contain sulfites, preservatives that can trigger allergy-like symptoms.

Steps for Managing Alcohol Intolerance

If you think you might have alcohol intolerance, the first step is to speak with a healthcare professional. They can provide guidance and run any necessary tests to rule out other conditions.

From there, we can take a number of steps to mitigate symptoms and navigate social situations with grace and ease.

  • Reduce Alcohol Intake. The most obvious (but sometimes most challenging!) step is to reduce your alcohol intake. Every little difference counts, so cut down a bit at a time.
  • Hydrate. Alternating between alcoholic drinks and water can help mitigate symptoms and reduce the overall amount of alcohol consumed.
  • Choose Wisely. Some alcoholic beverages may trigger symptoms more than others. You might find, for example, that while beer sets off symptoms, wine does not. It's a process of trial and error to find out what works best for your body. Take note of reactions as they arise, and adjust your order accordingly.
  • Eat First. Having food in your stomach can help slow the absorption of alcohol. Let's not drink on an empty stomach! Also, if you do choose to drink, keep in mind that eating certain foods before drinking can help us absorb and metabolize alcohol. For example, foods rich in fructose, like honey or apples, can do the trick.
  • Listen to Your Body. Every body is unique, and it's vital that you listen to yours. If you notice a certain symptom flaring up, take it as a sign to slow down or call it quits for the evening.
  • Get curious. Consider attending workshops or seminars that focus on understanding and managing alcohol intolerance — knowledge is power! Engaging in community forums online can also provide support, shared experiences, and new coping techniques.
  • Find Support. If cutting back or quitting is difficult, remember that help is available. From support groups to therapy or online communities, there are many resources to lean on. We at Reframe would be happy to help!

Adventure Awaits

Being aware of alcohol intolerance and its symptoms lets us make informed decisions about our alcohol consumption. We're all striving to live our healthiest, happiest lives — and knowing what's going on in our bodies is a big part of that journey. 

But it’s not just about identifying what our bodies can’t handle — it’s a fresh perspective on understanding our unique constitutions. In many ways, this newfound knowledge is like receiving a personalized roadmap to a more vibrant, energized, and joyful life.

Understanding our body’s signals opens doors to new experiences, tastes, and adventures. Maybe it’s sipping on alcohol-free cocktails that surprise our palate, attending fun mocktail mixers, or even just relishing the clarity and energy of an alcohol-free evening out with friends.

The beauty of this awareness is that it empowers us to make choices that enhance our well-being, while still cherishing those festive, celebratory moments. Recognizing the signs of alcohol intolerance is not a limitation! It’s an invitation to a world of expanded possibilities. It’s all about celebrating life in a way that resonates with our truest selves. 

Popular
Alcohol and Mental Health
2023-07-16 9:00
Alcohol and Mental Health
Popular
8 Common Toxic Behaviors in Relationships (and How To Cope)
This is some text inside of a div block.

This blog identifies eight common toxic behaviors in relationships, detailing their effects and providing effective coping strategies. It emphasizes the importance of recognizing these patterns to foster healthier relationship dynamics.

27 min read

Drink Less, Live More 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 hundreds 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 through the App Store or Google Play today!

Read Full Article  →

Relationships are an integral part of our lives, providing us with companionship, love, and a sense of belonging. They can be a source of joy, comfort, and personal growth. However, not all relationships are healthy — some are toxic and cause emotional distress and harm. These behaviors can range from subtle manipulations to overt forms of abuse, so recognizing this toxicity is the first step towards addressing them and seeking healthier dynamics. 

With all this in mind, here are eight common toxic behaviors in relationships and how to cope with them.

How Do Toxic Behaviors Affect Our Well-Being?

Toxic relationships are complex, dynamic entities, manifesting in different ways and constantly evolving. They can arise from a myriad of sources: romantic partners, friends, family members, or colleagues. While it's essential to recognize that no relationship is perfect, the key characteristic that distinguishes toxic relationships from healthy ones is the persistent negative impact they have on our overall health. These detrimental bonds thrive on a foundation of manipulation, deceit, and emotional abuse, creating an environment of fear, anxiety, and self-doubt that permeates every aspect of our lives.

Here are a few of the health consequences of toxic relationships.

Anxiety and Stress

One of the most immediate and tangible effects of a toxic relationship is the heightened sense of anxiety and stress it induces. Consider the story of Emily, who found herself in a romantic relationship with a partner who constantly belittled her and undermined her self-esteem. Over time, Emily's anxiety levels skyrocketed as she began to doubt her self-worth and internalize her partner's criticisms. The constant state of tension and apprehension she experienced was a direct result of the toxic nature of her relationship.

Depression

Toxic relationships can also be a significant contributor to the onset or exacerbation of depression. Take the case of Michael, who was in a friendship in which he felt pressured to conform to his friend's expectations, regardless of his own desires or beliefs. This suppression of his authentic self led to feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and disconnection, all of which are hallmarks of depression. The unhealthy dynamic of his friendship was instrumental in driving Michael into a depressive state.

Low Self-Esteem and Confidence

The insidious nature of toxic relationships often involves a gradual erosion of self-esteem and confidence. This can be seen in Lisa, who worked under a supervisor who consistently undermined her efforts and questioned her abilities. Over time, Laura began to doubt her own capabilities and lost confidence in her skills. The sustained psychological warfare waged by her supervisor took a severe toll on her mental health, leaving her questioning her worth in both her personal and professional life.

Emotional Exhaustion

Toxic relationships can be emotionally draining, leaving us feeling depleted and empty. For instance, Sam’s sibling constantly demanded emotional support but never reciprocated. As a result, Sam was left feeling emotionally exhausted, as though he was pouring his energy into a bottomless pit. The one-sided nature of his relationship with his sibling led to a chronic state of emotional fatigue that affected his overall mental well-being.

Isolation

Another common consequence of toxic relationships is the isolation they can create. For instance, Amanda had a partner who frequently made derogatory comments about her friends and family. Over time, Amanda began to distance herself from her loved ones to avoid conflict, leaving her feeling increasingly isolated and alone. The controlling behavior exhibited by her partner resulted in the gradual dismantling of her support network, leaving her vulnerable and without support.

Illnesses

One way that toxic relationships can impact our physical health is through increased stress levels. When we’re in a toxic relationship, we may constantly feel on edge or in danger, leading to heightened levels of stress hormones like cortisol. Over time, chronic stress can weaken our immune systems, making us more susceptible to illnesses like colds and the flu.

Stress can also contribute to more serious health problems, like heart disease and diabetes. In one study, researchers found that people in stressful marriages were more likely to have high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease. Similarly, chronic stress has been linked to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Inflammation

But it's not just the stress of toxic relationships that can impact our physical health. Negative emotions like anger, resentment, and sadness can also take a toll on our bodies. For example, when we experience strong negative emotions, our bodies release stress hormones that can lead to inflammation. Over time, chronic inflammation can contribute to a range of health problems, from arthritis to cancer.

Sleep Deprivation

It's also important to note that toxic relationships can impact our sleep, which in turn can impact our physical health. When we are in a toxic relationship, we may find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep due to stress and anxiety. Over time, chronic sleep deprivation can lead to a range of health problems, including immune dysfunction, weight gain, and an increased risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

Harmful Habits 

Furthermore, when we’re in a toxic relationship, we may engage in behaviors that are harmful to our health. For instance, we may turn to drugs, alcohol, or other vices as a way to cope with the stress and emotional pain of the relationship. These behaviors can have serious physical consequences, from liver damage to substance misuse.

1. Constant Criticism

Criticism is a prevalent and often detrimental aspect of many relationships, with the potential to gradually and profoundly affect a person's self-worth. It manifests as habitually pointing out flaws, shortcomings, or mistakes. This toxic behavior doesn't just stop at pointing out errors, but often delves into an excessive focus on the negative, overshadowing and minimizing any positive attributes or achievements. The effects aren't superficial; they deeply permeate the psyche of the person on the receiving end.

When someone is constantly exposed to criticism, the immediate response is often one of defensiveness or hurt. Over time, however, a dangerous internalization process begins. The person starts believing in these critiques, questioning their abilities, decisions, and self-worth. The once-clear distinction between constructive feedback and detrimental criticism blurs, leading them to view even well-intentioned advice through a lens of doubt and skepticism.

This incessant stream of negativity can also make people question their value in relationships, workplaces, and social circles. A natural decline in self-confidence follows, often extending to other areas of life where they might previously have felt competent or even excelled.

Coping Strategy: When dealing with constant criticism, it's crucial to communicate your feelings effectively. Use "I" statements to express how their criticism affects you without blaming or attacking them. Be honest about how your partner’s comments hurt you — it’s important to not downplay the significance of your feelings in this case (or any case!).

If your partner refuses to adjust their behavior despite your efforts, consider seeking professional help or re-evaluating the relationship.

2. Controlling Behavior

Control in relationships is a multifaceted issue that can present itself in diverse ways. It might be as overt as determining what a person wears or as subtle as influencing who they meet and interact with. The underlying reasons for such controlling behaviors often trace back to the controller's insecurities and deep-seated fears.

Understanding the root of these behaviors is vital. Insecurity in a relationship can arise from past traumas, experiences of betrayal, or a genuine fear of losing a loved one. Such insecurities can drive an individual to believe that by exercising control, they can prevent undesirable outcomes. However, these actions are counterproductive and, instead of fostering trust, they erode it.

The person on the receiving end of this control often feels stifled. The simple joys of expressing oneself through clothing become a point of contention. Social interactions, which are essential for emotional and psychological well-being, are curtailed or monitored, leading to feelings of isolation and confinement. Over time, this suppression can lead to a loss of self-identity as the controlled person starts molding their actions and choices to avoid conflict or to gain approval.

Restricting a person’s freedom in a relationship is more than just limiting their choices; it's an infringement on their individuality and personal growth. The richness of experiences, learning from diverse interactions, and the simple pleasure of autonomy are all compromised.

Coping Strategy: Establishing boundaries is key when dealing with controlling behavior. Assert your independence and make it clear what you will not tolerate. Remember: we teach others how we want to be treated. When we are clear on our boundaries and make it paramount that others follow them, we can avoid falling into patterns of control. 

Unfortunately, not all individuals are receptive to boundaries. In some cases, they may try to breach our boundaries or find ways for us to back off on them. If your partner continues to control you despite your efforts, it may be time to seek outside help.

3. Emotional Manipulation

Emotional manipulation is an insidious behavior that often lurks beneath the surface of relationships, making it challenging to identify but deeply damaging when endured. It's a covert tool used by manipulators to steer the feelings and responses of others to serve their ends. Central to this strategy are tactics like guilt, blame, and playing the victim.

When guilt is employed, the victim is often made to feel that they have wronged the manipulator in some way, even when this is far from the truth. This misplaced guilt can result in the victim taking on responsibilities or making amends for actions they didn't commit. The manipulator, wielding blame, deflects their shortcomings or mistakes onto the victim, leading them to question their own actions and beliefs. The victim card, another tactic, is played when the manipulator portrays themselves as the hurt party, eliciting sympathy or concessions from their target.

One of the most detrimental effects of emotional manipulation is the burden it places on the victim to uphold the happiness and well-being of the manipulator. They might find themselves walking on eggshells, always trying to keep the peace or prevent imagined slights, leading to an imbalanced relationship dynamic.

Coping Strategy: Learning to recognize manipulation tactics is the first step in coping with this behavior. Stand your ground and don't allow yourself to be swayed by guilt or blame. It can be challenging to break free from manipulative patterns, but doing so is the first step in reclaiming our power. 

This issue can certainly be challenging and it’s essential to remember that we don’t have to navigate it on our own. Seek support from trusted friends or a counselor if needed.

Toxic relationship behaviors' - depicts unhealthy patterns in relationships
4. Jealousy and Possessiveness

Jealousy, in moderation, can be a natural emotion experienced within relationships, often stemming from deeply ingrained instincts or past experiences. However, when it crosses the threshold from occasional insecurity to persistent and excessive doubt, it metamorphoses into a destructive force, threatening the very foundation of trust and mutual respect.

Excessive jealousy frequently breeds possessiveness. One partner, consumed by such jealousy, may feel an overwhelming need to constantly monitor the other's actions, interactions, and even thoughts. This urge to possess and oversee can be suffocating, pushing them to impose limits on who their partner can see, where they can go, and what they can do.

Coupled with possessiveness, this heightened jealousy often ushers in controlling behaviors. It may start subtly, with seemingly innocuous questions about daily activities or requests to check in frequently. Over time, these behaviors can escalate, leading to demands for access to personal messages, social media monitoring, and even tracking one's physical location.

Mistrust is the sinister shadow that accompanies excessive jealousy. No matter how transparent one tries to be, the jealous partner remains skeptical, reading hidden meanings into innocent actions or words. This perpetual state of suspicion can make the environment oppressive. The person on the receiving end might feel like they're perpetually under surveillance, causing emotional exhaustion and a constant fear of inadvertently triggering a jealous episode.

Coping Strategy: Open communication about insecurities can help alleviate these feelings. Discuss each other's insecurities openly and honestly, working together to build trust and security within the relationship. The more we are vulnerable and transparent about how we feel, the more space we open up for authentic connection and deeper understanding. 

In some instances, jealousy can be deep-seated and hard to address individually. If issues with jealousy persist despite these efforts, professional help may be necessary.

5. Lack of Respect for Boundaries

Respect for personal boundaries forms the bedrock of any healthy relationship. These boundaries, whether they're emotional, physical, or intellectual, define our comfort zones and signify our personal values, needs, and limits. Upholding them ensures mutual respect, understanding, and trust between partners. Conversely, when boundaries are consistently violated, the balance and harmony of the relationship are at risk.

A partner's continuous overstepping or ignorance of these boundaries isn't merely an oversight. It's a glaring indication of disrespect. Such actions imply that the violator's desires or impulses take precedence over the other's comfort and well-being. This lack of consideration often makes the other partner feel undervalued or even invisible.

Over time, these violations accumulate, leading to resentment. This emotion, if left unchecked, can fester and transform into deep-seated anger, mistrust, and disillusionment, jeopardizing the relationship's future.

Coping Strategy: Address this issue directly and assertively; explain why these boundaries are important to you and how it feels when they're violated. Discuss what your expectations are regarding boundaries and how you would like for them to be upheld. 

If the other person continues to disrespect your boundaries despite these discussions, it might be time to reconsider the relationship. 

6. Gaslighting

Gaslighting is one of the most sinister and covert forms of psychological manipulation, often used to wield power and control within relationships.

The techniques of gaslighting are varied but are uniformly designed to destabilize the victim. These might include flat-out denial of events that occurred, trivializing the victim's feelings, shifting blame, or even presenting false information. Over time, the consistent application of these tactics erodes the victim's trust in their own memory, perceptions, and emotions. This internal chaos often leads to feelings of confusion, anxiety, and helplessness, as the victim grapples with what they know to be true versus what they're being told.

One of the most debilitating impacts of gaslighting is the isolation it can create. Victims, unsure of their own reality and wary of external judgment, may withdraw from friends and family, further empowering the gaslighter.

Coping Strategy: Conversing with trusted friends or professionals can provide much-needed validation and clarity, helping us discern manipulation from truth. Maintaining a record, whether it's a diary or another form of documentation, can also be useful. It acts as a tangible, unalterable record of events that can counteract the gaslighter's narrative, reinforcing our understanding of reality and assuring us that our experiences and feelings are both real and valid.

If gaslighting is significantly impacting your well-being, please seek help from a professional. They can provide a safe space in which you can reconsider your relationship and take the next healthier step forward. 

7. Neglect or Indifference

Neglect and indifference, while less overt than some forms of relationship toxicity, can be just as damaging and insidious. At the heart of every meaningful relationship lies a foundation of mutual respect, understanding, and appreciation. When one partner consistently displays neglect or indifference towards the other's feelings or needs, it can erode this foundation, leading to feelings of isolation and emotional starvation.

Consistent neglect creates a void. Every time a partner dismisses or undervalues the other's feelings, it sends a message that their emotional needs and experiences are inconsequential. Over time, the one on the receiving end may internalize this treatment, leading to self-doubt, diminished self-worth, and a feeling that they are not deserving of attention or care. The result is a suffocating environment where one feels constantly sidelined, their needs perpetually on the back burner.

Such a dynamic is unsustainable and emotionally draining. It goes against the fundamental tenets of what a loving relationship should offer: a space of understanding, mutual appreciation, and shared growth.

Coping Strategy: Open communication is key. Expressing how the indifference impacts your emotional well-being might provide the neglectful partner with needed insight into their behavior. Sometimes, people may be unaware of how their actions, or lack thereof, are affecting the relationship, and shedding light on it can prompt introspection and change.

However, if neglect continues despite expressing your feelings, it might be best to distance yourself from the relationship for self-preservation.

8. Verbal or Physical Abuse

Verbal and physical abuse are grave manifestations of toxicity within relationships, representing a significant breach of trust, respect, and personal safety. Both forms of abuse are wielded as tools of power and control, seeking to diminish our sense of self-worth and autonomy.

Verbal abuse, though devoid of physical harm, can leave deep emotional scars. It encompasses actions like shouting, belittling, name-calling, or constantly criticizing, all aimed at eroding our self-esteem and confidence. Over time, consistent exposure to verbal abuse can lead to anxiety, depression, and feelings of worthlessness.

Physical abuse, on the other hand, involves acts of violence such as hitting, slapping, pushing, or any other form of intentional harm. The ramifications are immediate and can lead to both physical injuries and lasting psychological trauma.

Both forms of abuse are manipulative strategies to establish dominance within a relationship, making us feel trapped, powerless, and often fearful for our safety. It's crucial to understand that no one deserves to be treated this way, and no reason justifies such behavior. Recognizing the signs and seeking help early can be life-saving, whether it's through trusted individuals, counselors, or dedicated helplines and organizations.

Coping Strategy: If you're experiencing abuse, seek help immediately from your local authorities or organizations specializing in domestic violence, like the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). You can also text “START” to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 88788 or chat online to get help with them here. Absolutely no one deserves to be abused — it's not your fault, and there are resources available to help you escape such situations safely.

The Key Takeaways

Recognizing toxic behaviors is the first step towards healthier relationships. By understanding these patterns, we can take action either by addressing the issues directly with our partners or seeking professional help when necessary. It’s essential to bear in mind that these unhealthy relationships can have significant and long-lasting effects on our overall well-being. Therefore, addressing issues is a necessary component of our own self-care. 

Remember: You deserve love that uplifts you, respects you, and cherishes you for who you are — never settle for less!

Relationships are an integral part of our lives, providing us with companionship, love, and a sense of belonging. They can be a source of joy, comfort, and personal growth. However, not all relationships are healthy — some are toxic and cause emotional distress and harm. These behaviors can range from subtle manipulations to overt forms of abuse, so recognizing this toxicity is the first step towards addressing them and seeking healthier dynamics. 

With all this in mind, here are eight common toxic behaviors in relationships and how to cope with them.

How Do Toxic Behaviors Affect Our Well-Being?

Toxic relationships are complex, dynamic entities, manifesting in different ways and constantly evolving. They can arise from a myriad of sources: romantic partners, friends, family members, or colleagues. While it's essential to recognize that no relationship is perfect, the key characteristic that distinguishes toxic relationships from healthy ones is the persistent negative impact they have on our overall health. These detrimental bonds thrive on a foundation of manipulation, deceit, and emotional abuse, creating an environment of fear, anxiety, and self-doubt that permeates every aspect of our lives.

Here are a few of the health consequences of toxic relationships.

Anxiety and Stress

One of the most immediate and tangible effects of a toxic relationship is the heightened sense of anxiety and stress it induces. Consider the story of Emily, who found herself in a romantic relationship with a partner who constantly belittled her and undermined her self-esteem. Over time, Emily's anxiety levels skyrocketed as she began to doubt her self-worth and internalize her partner's criticisms. The constant state of tension and apprehension she experienced was a direct result of the toxic nature of her relationship.

Depression

Toxic relationships can also be a significant contributor to the onset or exacerbation of depression. Take the case of Michael, who was in a friendship in which he felt pressured to conform to his friend's expectations, regardless of his own desires or beliefs. This suppression of his authentic self led to feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and disconnection, all of which are hallmarks of depression. The unhealthy dynamic of his friendship was instrumental in driving Michael into a depressive state.

Low Self-Esteem and Confidence

The insidious nature of toxic relationships often involves a gradual erosion of self-esteem and confidence. This can be seen in Lisa, who worked under a supervisor who consistently undermined her efforts and questioned her abilities. Over time, Laura began to doubt her own capabilities and lost confidence in her skills. The sustained psychological warfare waged by her supervisor took a severe toll on her mental health, leaving her questioning her worth in both her personal and professional life.

Emotional Exhaustion

Toxic relationships can be emotionally draining, leaving us feeling depleted and empty. For instance, Sam’s sibling constantly demanded emotional support but never reciprocated. As a result, Sam was left feeling emotionally exhausted, as though he was pouring his energy into a bottomless pit. The one-sided nature of his relationship with his sibling led to a chronic state of emotional fatigue that affected his overall mental well-being.

Isolation

Another common consequence of toxic relationships is the isolation they can create. For instance, Amanda had a partner who frequently made derogatory comments about her friends and family. Over time, Amanda began to distance herself from her loved ones to avoid conflict, leaving her feeling increasingly isolated and alone. The controlling behavior exhibited by her partner resulted in the gradual dismantling of her support network, leaving her vulnerable and without support.

Illnesses

One way that toxic relationships can impact our physical health is through increased stress levels. When we’re in a toxic relationship, we may constantly feel on edge or in danger, leading to heightened levels of stress hormones like cortisol. Over time, chronic stress can weaken our immune systems, making us more susceptible to illnesses like colds and the flu.

Stress can also contribute to more serious health problems, like heart disease and diabetes. In one study, researchers found that people in stressful marriages were more likely to have high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease. Similarly, chronic stress has been linked to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Inflammation

But it's not just the stress of toxic relationships that can impact our physical health. Negative emotions like anger, resentment, and sadness can also take a toll on our bodies. For example, when we experience strong negative emotions, our bodies release stress hormones that can lead to inflammation. Over time, chronic inflammation can contribute to a range of health problems, from arthritis to cancer.

Sleep Deprivation

It's also important to note that toxic relationships can impact our sleep, which in turn can impact our physical health. When we are in a toxic relationship, we may find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep due to stress and anxiety. Over time, chronic sleep deprivation can lead to a range of health problems, including immune dysfunction, weight gain, and an increased risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

Harmful Habits 

Furthermore, when we’re in a toxic relationship, we may engage in behaviors that are harmful to our health. For instance, we may turn to drugs, alcohol, or other vices as a way to cope with the stress and emotional pain of the relationship. These behaviors can have serious physical consequences, from liver damage to substance misuse.

1. Constant Criticism

Criticism is a prevalent and often detrimental aspect of many relationships, with the potential to gradually and profoundly affect a person's self-worth. It manifests as habitually pointing out flaws, shortcomings, or mistakes. This toxic behavior doesn't just stop at pointing out errors, but often delves into an excessive focus on the negative, overshadowing and minimizing any positive attributes or achievements. The effects aren't superficial; they deeply permeate the psyche of the person on the receiving end.

When someone is constantly exposed to criticism, the immediate response is often one of defensiveness or hurt. Over time, however, a dangerous internalization process begins. The person starts believing in these critiques, questioning their abilities, decisions, and self-worth. The once-clear distinction between constructive feedback and detrimental criticism blurs, leading them to view even well-intentioned advice through a lens of doubt and skepticism.

This incessant stream of negativity can also make people question their value in relationships, workplaces, and social circles. A natural decline in self-confidence follows, often extending to other areas of life where they might previously have felt competent or even excelled.

Coping Strategy: When dealing with constant criticism, it's crucial to communicate your feelings effectively. Use "I" statements to express how their criticism affects you without blaming or attacking them. Be honest about how your partner’s comments hurt you — it’s important to not downplay the significance of your feelings in this case (or any case!).

If your partner refuses to adjust their behavior despite your efforts, consider seeking professional help or re-evaluating the relationship.

2. Controlling Behavior

Control in relationships is a multifaceted issue that can present itself in diverse ways. It might be as overt as determining what a person wears or as subtle as influencing who they meet and interact with. The underlying reasons for such controlling behaviors often trace back to the controller's insecurities and deep-seated fears.

Understanding the root of these behaviors is vital. Insecurity in a relationship can arise from past traumas, experiences of betrayal, or a genuine fear of losing a loved one. Such insecurities can drive an individual to believe that by exercising control, they can prevent undesirable outcomes. However, these actions are counterproductive and, instead of fostering trust, they erode it.

The person on the receiving end of this control often feels stifled. The simple joys of expressing oneself through clothing become a point of contention. Social interactions, which are essential for emotional and psychological well-being, are curtailed or monitored, leading to feelings of isolation and confinement. Over time, this suppression can lead to a loss of self-identity as the controlled person starts molding their actions and choices to avoid conflict or to gain approval.

Restricting a person’s freedom in a relationship is more than just limiting their choices; it's an infringement on their individuality and personal growth. The richness of experiences, learning from diverse interactions, and the simple pleasure of autonomy are all compromised.

Coping Strategy: Establishing boundaries is key when dealing with controlling behavior. Assert your independence and make it clear what you will not tolerate. Remember: we teach others how we want to be treated. When we are clear on our boundaries and make it paramount that others follow them, we can avoid falling into patterns of control. 

Unfortunately, not all individuals are receptive to boundaries. In some cases, they may try to breach our boundaries or find ways for us to back off on them. If your partner continues to control you despite your efforts, it may be time to seek outside help.

3. Emotional Manipulation

Emotional manipulation is an insidious behavior that often lurks beneath the surface of relationships, making it challenging to identify but deeply damaging when endured. It's a covert tool used by manipulators to steer the feelings and responses of others to serve their ends. Central to this strategy are tactics like guilt, blame, and playing the victim.

When guilt is employed, the victim is often made to feel that they have wronged the manipulator in some way, even when this is far from the truth. This misplaced guilt can result in the victim taking on responsibilities or making amends for actions they didn't commit. The manipulator, wielding blame, deflects their shortcomings or mistakes onto the victim, leading them to question their own actions and beliefs. The victim card, another tactic, is played when the manipulator portrays themselves as the hurt party, eliciting sympathy or concessions from their target.

One of the most detrimental effects of emotional manipulation is the burden it places on the victim to uphold the happiness and well-being of the manipulator. They might find themselves walking on eggshells, always trying to keep the peace or prevent imagined slights, leading to an imbalanced relationship dynamic.

Coping Strategy: Learning to recognize manipulation tactics is the first step in coping with this behavior. Stand your ground and don't allow yourself to be swayed by guilt or blame. It can be challenging to break free from manipulative patterns, but doing so is the first step in reclaiming our power. 

This issue can certainly be challenging and it’s essential to remember that we don’t have to navigate it on our own. Seek support from trusted friends or a counselor if needed.

Toxic relationship behaviors' - depicts unhealthy patterns in relationships
4. Jealousy and Possessiveness

Jealousy, in moderation, can be a natural emotion experienced within relationships, often stemming from deeply ingrained instincts or past experiences. However, when it crosses the threshold from occasional insecurity to persistent and excessive doubt, it metamorphoses into a destructive force, threatening the very foundation of trust and mutual respect.

Excessive jealousy frequently breeds possessiveness. One partner, consumed by such jealousy, may feel an overwhelming need to constantly monitor the other's actions, interactions, and even thoughts. This urge to possess and oversee can be suffocating, pushing them to impose limits on who their partner can see, where they can go, and what they can do.

Coupled with possessiveness, this heightened jealousy often ushers in controlling behaviors. It may start subtly, with seemingly innocuous questions about daily activities or requests to check in frequently. Over time, these behaviors can escalate, leading to demands for access to personal messages, social media monitoring, and even tracking one's physical location.

Mistrust is the sinister shadow that accompanies excessive jealousy. No matter how transparent one tries to be, the jealous partner remains skeptical, reading hidden meanings into innocent actions or words. This perpetual state of suspicion can make the environment oppressive. The person on the receiving end might feel like they're perpetually under surveillance, causing emotional exhaustion and a constant fear of inadvertently triggering a jealous episode.

Coping Strategy: Open communication about insecurities can help alleviate these feelings. Discuss each other's insecurities openly and honestly, working together to build trust and security within the relationship. The more we are vulnerable and transparent about how we feel, the more space we open up for authentic connection and deeper understanding. 

In some instances, jealousy can be deep-seated and hard to address individually. If issues with jealousy persist despite these efforts, professional help may be necessary.

5. Lack of Respect for Boundaries

Respect for personal boundaries forms the bedrock of any healthy relationship. These boundaries, whether they're emotional, physical, or intellectual, define our comfort zones and signify our personal values, needs, and limits. Upholding them ensures mutual respect, understanding, and trust between partners. Conversely, when boundaries are consistently violated, the balance and harmony of the relationship are at risk.

A partner's continuous overstepping or ignorance of these boundaries isn't merely an oversight. It's a glaring indication of disrespect. Such actions imply that the violator's desires or impulses take precedence over the other's comfort and well-being. This lack of consideration often makes the other partner feel undervalued or even invisible.

Over time, these violations accumulate, leading to resentment. This emotion, if left unchecked, can fester and transform into deep-seated anger, mistrust, and disillusionment, jeopardizing the relationship's future.

Coping Strategy: Address this issue directly and assertively; explain why these boundaries are important to you and how it feels when they're violated. Discuss what your expectations are regarding boundaries and how you would like for them to be upheld. 

If the other person continues to disrespect your boundaries despite these discussions, it might be time to reconsider the relationship. 

6. Gaslighting

Gaslighting is one of the most sinister and covert forms of psychological manipulation, often used to wield power and control within relationships.

The techniques of gaslighting are varied but are uniformly designed to destabilize the victim. These might include flat-out denial of events that occurred, trivializing the victim's feelings, shifting blame, or even presenting false information. Over time, the consistent application of these tactics erodes the victim's trust in their own memory, perceptions, and emotions. This internal chaos often leads to feelings of confusion, anxiety, and helplessness, as the victim grapples with what they know to be true versus what they're being told.

One of the most debilitating impacts of gaslighting is the isolation it can create. Victims, unsure of their own reality and wary of external judgment, may withdraw from friends and family, further empowering the gaslighter.

Coping Strategy: Conversing with trusted friends or professionals can provide much-needed validation and clarity, helping us discern manipulation from truth. Maintaining a record, whether it's a diary or another form of documentation, can also be useful. It acts as a tangible, unalterable record of events that can counteract the gaslighter's narrative, reinforcing our understanding of reality and assuring us that our experiences and feelings are both real and valid.

If gaslighting is significantly impacting your well-being, please seek help from a professional. They can provide a safe space in which you can reconsider your relationship and take the next healthier step forward. 

7. Neglect or Indifference

Neglect and indifference, while less overt than some forms of relationship toxicity, can be just as damaging and insidious. At the heart of every meaningful relationship lies a foundation of mutual respect, understanding, and appreciation. When one partner consistently displays neglect or indifference towards the other's feelings or needs, it can erode this foundation, leading to feelings of isolation and emotional starvation.

Consistent neglect creates a void. Every time a partner dismisses or undervalues the other's feelings, it sends a message that their emotional needs and experiences are inconsequential. Over time, the one on the receiving end may internalize this treatment, leading to self-doubt, diminished self-worth, and a feeling that they are not deserving of attention or care. The result is a suffocating environment where one feels constantly sidelined, their needs perpetually on the back burner.

Such a dynamic is unsustainable and emotionally draining. It goes against the fundamental tenets of what a loving relationship should offer: a space of understanding, mutual appreciation, and shared growth.

Coping Strategy: Open communication is key. Expressing how the indifference impacts your emotional well-being might provide the neglectful partner with needed insight into their behavior. Sometimes, people may be unaware of how their actions, or lack thereof, are affecting the relationship, and shedding light on it can prompt introspection and change.

However, if neglect continues despite expressing your feelings, it might be best to distance yourself from the relationship for self-preservation.

8. Verbal or Physical Abuse

Verbal and physical abuse are grave manifestations of toxicity within relationships, representing a significant breach of trust, respect, and personal safety. Both forms of abuse are wielded as tools of power and control, seeking to diminish our sense of self-worth and autonomy.

Verbal abuse, though devoid of physical harm, can leave deep emotional scars. It encompasses actions like shouting, belittling, name-calling, or constantly criticizing, all aimed at eroding our self-esteem and confidence. Over time, consistent exposure to verbal abuse can lead to anxiety, depression, and feelings of worthlessness.

Physical abuse, on the other hand, involves acts of violence such as hitting, slapping, pushing, or any other form of intentional harm. The ramifications are immediate and can lead to both physical injuries and lasting psychological trauma.

Both forms of abuse are manipulative strategies to establish dominance within a relationship, making us feel trapped, powerless, and often fearful for our safety. It's crucial to understand that no one deserves to be treated this way, and no reason justifies such behavior. Recognizing the signs and seeking help early can be life-saving, whether it's through trusted individuals, counselors, or dedicated helplines and organizations.

Coping Strategy: If you're experiencing abuse, seek help immediately from your local authorities or organizations specializing in domestic violence, like the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). You can also text “START” to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 88788 or chat online to get help with them here. Absolutely no one deserves to be abused — it's not your fault, and there are resources available to help you escape such situations safely.

The Key Takeaways

Recognizing toxic behaviors is the first step towards healthier relationships. By understanding these patterns, we can take action either by addressing the issues directly with our partners or seeking professional help when necessary. It’s essential to bear in mind that these unhealthy relationships can have significant and long-lasting effects on our overall well-being. Therefore, addressing issues is a necessary component of our own self-care. 

Remember: You deserve love that uplifts you, respects you, and cherishes you for who you are — never settle for less!

Alcohol and Mental Health
Popular
2023-07-16 9:00
Alcohol and Mental Health
Popular
Alcohol-Induced Psychosis: Signs and Symptoms
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Heavy drinking can lead to a severe mental health condition known as alcohol-induced psychosis, which leads to hallucinations and delusions. Our latest blog discusses the signs, symptoms, and causes of alcohol-induced psychosis.

16 min read

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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 hundreds 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 through the App Store or Google Play today!

Read Full Article  →

You’ve been drinking heavily for a while. Every day, it’s the same routine: you get home from work, fix dinner, and plop down on the couch with a bottle of wine to enjoy while you watch your favorite show. Pretty soon, you’re uncorking a second bottle of your favorite red. As you sit back down on the couch, something strange happens: you hear someone talking — or, at least, you think you do. What’s going on?

Let’s explore the rare, disturbing condition known as alcohol-induced psychosis — what it is, what causes it, and what you can do about it.

What Is Alcohol-Induced Psychosis?

Alcohol-induced psychosis is a serious mental health condition that causes us to experience hallucinations, delusions, or both due to excessive drinking. It’s relatively rare among the general population, but alcohol-induced psychosis occurs at higher rates in those struggling with alcohol dependence.

Someone experiencing alcohol-induced psychosis might see, hear, or feel things that aren’t there either while drinking or after drinking. Typically, people who have psychosis lose touch with reality and have difficulty telling the difference between real and imagined experiences. They also become paranoid, frightened, easily confused, and sometimes aggressive.

What are Alcohol-induced Psychosis Symptoms?

People can experience a range of alcohol-induced psychosis symptoms. Here are some of the more common: 

  • Visual hallucinations: Seeing objects or people that aren’t there. For instance, you might see someone outside lurking in the shadows.
  • Auditory hallucinations: Hearing voices or other sounds that do not exist. You might hear someone talking to you, even though no one is there. 
  • Olfactory hallucinations: Smelling scents that no one else can, like smelling something burning when there’s no fire.
  • Tactile hallucinations: Feeling like you’re being touched when no one or nothing is touching you. Some people might start scratching themselves, as they hallucinate the feeling of bugs crawling on them.
  • Delusions: Rigidly adhering to beliefs that have no basis in reality, such as being convinced that other people are “out to get you” even though there’s no evidence
  • Paranoia: Extreme anxiety and fear. For instance, you might fear you’re being watched or followed. 

These are some other alcohol psychosis symptoms:

  • Speaking incoherently or being otherwise unable to express thoughts clearly
  • Agitation or outbursts of violence or aggression
  • Crying, laughing, or having other inappropriate emotional reactions for the situation
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Acting strangely or inappropriately
  • Inability to hold a conversation
  • Jumbled thoughts
  • Rapid, constant speech
  • Feeling disconnected from body 

Keep in mind that alcohol-induced psychosis symptoms can vary in severity and intensity. For instance, some people might see or hear things that aren’t there for a brief moment, while others will see or hear things continuously, frightening them. 

To an outsider, it can sometimes be difficult to determine if a person is simply intoxicated or if they have developed alcohol-induced psychosis. However, diagnoses can be made based on how long the symptoms last. 

What Causes Alcohol-Induced Psychosis? 

Alcohol-induced psychosis can be triggered in three different ways:

  • Acute alcohol intoxication. While rare, acute alcohol psychosis can occur when we consume a large amount of alcohol in one sitting, such as in a night of binge drinking. Otherwise known as pathological intoxication, it usually occurs when people drink the same amounts of alcohol that can lead to alcohol poisoning. However, while most people will become unconscious (from the alcohol poisoning) before any psychotic symptoms appear, those who remain conscious may show signs of acute alcohol psychosis.
  • Alcohol withdrawal psychosis. This form of alcohol-induced psychosis can occur when long-term heavy drinkers stop drinking. It happens temporarily during intense alcohol withdrawal, and it can be part of what is commonly known as delirium tremens (DTs). This manifests as hallucinations, delusions, or a complete detachment from reality. Sometimes, people will even feel like bugs are crawling on their skin. 
  • Alcoholic hallucinosis. This form of alcohol-induced psychosis can occur in people who use alcohol heavily for long periods of time, such as those with chronic alcohol use disorder. It usually causes auditory, visual, or tactile hallucinations during or after drinking. Some people might also experience erratic mood shifts or delusions. 

    This type of alcohol-induced psychosis may occur sporadically for hours or days. Over time, alcoholic hallucinosis can begin mimicking symptoms of schizophrenia and last indefinitely. In some cases, it can indicate brain damage, including Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.
A range of mental disorders caused by alcohol consumption

How Long Does Alcohol-Induced Psychosis Last?

The symptoms of psychosis will last much longer than typical alcohol intoxication. In fact, for someone to be diagnosed with alcohol-induced psychosis, their symptoms typically persist for at least 48 hours. Symptoms will also be much more severe than the disorientation and reduced inhibitions usually associated with being drunk. 

While the symptoms of alcohol-induced psychosis tend to occur in the aftermath of heavy drinking, they might not become evident for up to two weeks. They can last for a couple days or longer. In some cases, episodes of alcohol-induced psychosis have lasted for up to six months. 

In rare cases, alcohol-induced psychosis can become permanent due to a condition called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WK). This is a serious complication of heavy alcohol use caused by low levels of thiamine (vitamin B1). Low thiamine levels can cause brain inflammation that creates dangerous neurological symptoms. If untreated, inflammation can lead to permanent brain damage that leads to psychosis and hallucinations. 

Who Is at Risk for Developing Alcohol-Induced Psychosis?

Anyone who drinks excessively or has alcohol use disorder is at risk for alcohol-induced psychosis. According to a 2018 review, about 4% of people who develop alcohol use disorder will experience alcohol-induced psychosis. If we’ve experienced an episode previously, we’re at an even greater risk of having another one. 

These are some other populations who are at greater risk for developing alcohol-induced psychosis:

  • Heavy drinkers over age 40
  • People with schizophrenia
  • People with mental health disorders
  • People going through alcohol withdrawal who have delirium tremens (DTs)
  • People with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) high enough to cause alcohol poisoning
  • People with thiamine (B1) deficiency (often caused by alcohol use)
  • People who are abusing other substances that come with risks of psychosis, such as methamphetamine

Research also indicates that alcohol-induced psychosis is highest among working-age men, people who became addicted to alcohol at a young age, those of low socioeconomic status, and individuals who live alone or have little social support. 

Similarly, researchers have associated alcohol-induced psychosis with higher rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide. Furthermore, about 37% of people diagnosed with alcohol-induced psychosis have a co-occuring mental health disorder.

Can Alcohol Cause Schizophrenia? 

Alcohol cannot cause schizophrenia. However, the symptoms of alcohol psychosis can be similar to those of schizophrenia. For instance, many people with schizophrenia experience delusions or hallucinations that cause them to see or hear things that aren’t there.

In the case of alcohol-induced psychosis, these symptoms are brought on by heavy alcohol use, whereas a person with schizophrenia will experience them in the absence of alcohol or other influential substances. Consuming alcohol can make symptoms of schizophrenia worse or more intense.

While they are two separate conditions, alcohol-induced psychosis and schizophrenia can co-occur in the same person.

What Dangers Are Associated With Alcohol-Induced Psychosis?

Alcohol-induced psychosis can be dangerous if left untreated. For instance, people with untreated alcohol-induced psychosis could be subject to these risks: 

  • Physical injuries due to confusion, disorientation, or aggressive behaviors
  • Abuse or other victimization
  • Arrest and incarceration due to reckless or dangerous behaviors
  • Job loss
  • Conflicts with friends and family members
  • Worsening of co-occurring mental illness, such as schizophrenia 
  • Social isolation
  • Suicide

What Is the Treatment for Alcohol-Induced Psychosis?

If you or someone you know is experiencing alcohol-induced psychosis, it’s important to get medical help immediately. Treatment usually involves eliminating alcohol and getting through withdrawal symptoms. 

In chronic cases of alcoholic hallucinosis, neuroleptic medications (like haloperidol) or atypical antipsychotics (such as olanzapine or ziprasidone) may be necessary to control symptoms. Medical professionals might also administer benzodiazepines like lorazepam if there is a risk of seizures and alcohol withdrawal.

Because heavy drinking is often to blame for alcohol-induced psychosis, treatment also involves a long-term recovery plan for living an alcohol-free life. 

How Can We Prevent Alcohol-Induced Psychosis?

Abstinence from alcohol — not drinking at all — is the best way to prevent this condition. Anyone who drinks heavily or has an alcohol use disorder is at risk for alcohol-induced psychosis. And people who’ve already experienced one episode are at greater risk of having another one.

Getting the Help We Need

we or one of our loved ones is struggling with alcohol use, it’s important to get help right away before it causes more severe complications such as alcohol-induced psychosis. The best thing we can do is contact a medical professional and be upfront and honest about our alcohol consumption. They can help direct us develop a treatment plan or direct us to resources that can help, such as an in-patient or out-patient rehabilitation center. It’s never too late to get the help we need.

If you’re drinking more than you’d like and want to cut down on your alcohol consumption, consider trying Reframe. We can help you change your drinking habits and offer tools and tips for enhancing your health and well-being. 

You’ve been drinking heavily for a while. Every day, it’s the same routine: you get home from work, fix dinner, and plop down on the couch with a bottle of wine to enjoy while you watch your favorite show. Pretty soon, you’re uncorking a second bottle of your favorite red. As you sit back down on the couch, something strange happens: you hear someone talking — or, at least, you think you do. What’s going on?

Let’s explore the rare, disturbing condition known as alcohol-induced psychosis — what it is, what causes it, and what you can do about it.

What Is Alcohol-Induced Psychosis?

Alcohol-induced psychosis is a serious mental health condition that causes us to experience hallucinations, delusions, or both due to excessive drinking. It’s relatively rare among the general population, but alcohol-induced psychosis occurs at higher rates in those struggling with alcohol dependence.

Someone experiencing alcohol-induced psychosis might see, hear, or feel things that aren’t there either while drinking or after drinking. Typically, people who have psychosis lose touch with reality and have difficulty telling the difference between real and imagined experiences. They also become paranoid, frightened, easily confused, and sometimes aggressive.

What are Alcohol-induced Psychosis Symptoms?

People can experience a range of alcohol-induced psychosis symptoms. Here are some of the more common: 

  • Visual hallucinations: Seeing objects or people that aren’t there. For instance, you might see someone outside lurking in the shadows.
  • Auditory hallucinations: Hearing voices or other sounds that do not exist. You might hear someone talking to you, even though no one is there. 
  • Olfactory hallucinations: Smelling scents that no one else can, like smelling something burning when there’s no fire.
  • Tactile hallucinations: Feeling like you’re being touched when no one or nothing is touching you. Some people might start scratching themselves, as they hallucinate the feeling of bugs crawling on them.
  • Delusions: Rigidly adhering to beliefs that have no basis in reality, such as being convinced that other people are “out to get you” even though there’s no evidence
  • Paranoia: Extreme anxiety and fear. For instance, you might fear you’re being watched or followed. 

These are some other alcohol psychosis symptoms:

  • Speaking incoherently or being otherwise unable to express thoughts clearly
  • Agitation or outbursts of violence or aggression
  • Crying, laughing, or having other inappropriate emotional reactions for the situation
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Acting strangely or inappropriately
  • Inability to hold a conversation
  • Jumbled thoughts
  • Rapid, constant speech
  • Feeling disconnected from body 

Keep in mind that alcohol-induced psychosis symptoms can vary in severity and intensity. For instance, some people might see or hear things that aren’t there for a brief moment, while others will see or hear things continuously, frightening them. 

To an outsider, it can sometimes be difficult to determine if a person is simply intoxicated or if they have developed alcohol-induced psychosis. However, diagnoses can be made based on how long the symptoms last. 

What Causes Alcohol-Induced Psychosis? 

Alcohol-induced psychosis can be triggered in three different ways:

  • Acute alcohol intoxication. While rare, acute alcohol psychosis can occur when we consume a large amount of alcohol in one sitting, such as in a night of binge drinking. Otherwise known as pathological intoxication, it usually occurs when people drink the same amounts of alcohol that can lead to alcohol poisoning. However, while most people will become unconscious (from the alcohol poisoning) before any psychotic symptoms appear, those who remain conscious may show signs of acute alcohol psychosis.
  • Alcohol withdrawal psychosis. This form of alcohol-induced psychosis can occur when long-term heavy drinkers stop drinking. It happens temporarily during intense alcohol withdrawal, and it can be part of what is commonly known as delirium tremens (DTs). This manifests as hallucinations, delusions, or a complete detachment from reality. Sometimes, people will even feel like bugs are crawling on their skin. 
  • Alcoholic hallucinosis. This form of alcohol-induced psychosis can occur in people who use alcohol heavily for long periods of time, such as those with chronic alcohol use disorder. It usually causes auditory, visual, or tactile hallucinations during or after drinking. Some people might also experience erratic mood shifts or delusions. 

    This type of alcohol-induced psychosis may occur sporadically for hours or days. Over time, alcoholic hallucinosis can begin mimicking symptoms of schizophrenia and last indefinitely. In some cases, it can indicate brain damage, including Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.
A range of mental disorders caused by alcohol consumption

How Long Does Alcohol-Induced Psychosis Last?

The symptoms of psychosis will last much longer than typical alcohol intoxication. In fact, for someone to be diagnosed with alcohol-induced psychosis, their symptoms typically persist for at least 48 hours. Symptoms will also be much more severe than the disorientation and reduced inhibitions usually associated with being drunk. 

While the symptoms of alcohol-induced psychosis tend to occur in the aftermath of heavy drinking, they might not become evident for up to two weeks. They can last for a couple days or longer. In some cases, episodes of alcohol-induced psychosis have lasted for up to six months. 

In rare cases, alcohol-induced psychosis can become permanent due to a condition called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WK). This is a serious complication of heavy alcohol use caused by low levels of thiamine (vitamin B1). Low thiamine levels can cause brain inflammation that creates dangerous neurological symptoms. If untreated, inflammation can lead to permanent brain damage that leads to psychosis and hallucinations. 

Who Is at Risk for Developing Alcohol-Induced Psychosis?

Anyone who drinks excessively or has alcohol use disorder is at risk for alcohol-induced psychosis. According to a 2018 review, about 4% of people who develop alcohol use disorder will experience alcohol-induced psychosis. If we’ve experienced an episode previously, we’re at an even greater risk of having another one. 

These are some other populations who are at greater risk for developing alcohol-induced psychosis:

  • Heavy drinkers over age 40
  • People with schizophrenia
  • People with mental health disorders
  • People going through alcohol withdrawal who have delirium tremens (DTs)
  • People with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) high enough to cause alcohol poisoning
  • People with thiamine (B1) deficiency (often caused by alcohol use)
  • People who are abusing other substances that come with risks of psychosis, such as methamphetamine

Research also indicates that alcohol-induced psychosis is highest among working-age men, people who became addicted to alcohol at a young age, those of low socioeconomic status, and individuals who live alone or have little social support. 

Similarly, researchers have associated alcohol-induced psychosis with higher rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide. Furthermore, about 37% of people diagnosed with alcohol-induced psychosis have a co-occuring mental health disorder.

Can Alcohol Cause Schizophrenia? 

Alcohol cannot cause schizophrenia. However, the symptoms of alcohol psychosis can be similar to those of schizophrenia. For instance, many people with schizophrenia experience delusions or hallucinations that cause them to see or hear things that aren’t there.

In the case of alcohol-induced psychosis, these symptoms are brought on by heavy alcohol use, whereas a person with schizophrenia will experience them in the absence of alcohol or other influential substances. Consuming alcohol can make symptoms of schizophrenia worse or more intense.

While they are two separate conditions, alcohol-induced psychosis and schizophrenia can co-occur in the same person.

What Dangers Are Associated With Alcohol-Induced Psychosis?

Alcohol-induced psychosis can be dangerous if left untreated. For instance, people with untreated alcohol-induced psychosis could be subject to these risks: 

  • Physical injuries due to confusion, disorientation, or aggressive behaviors
  • Abuse or other victimization
  • Arrest and incarceration due to reckless or dangerous behaviors
  • Job loss
  • Conflicts with friends and family members
  • Worsening of co-occurring mental illness, such as schizophrenia 
  • Social isolation
  • Suicide

What Is the Treatment for Alcohol-Induced Psychosis?

If you or someone you know is experiencing alcohol-induced psychosis, it’s important to get medical help immediately. Treatment usually involves eliminating alcohol and getting through withdrawal symptoms. 

In chronic cases of alcoholic hallucinosis, neuroleptic medications (like haloperidol) or atypical antipsychotics (such as olanzapine or ziprasidone) may be necessary to control symptoms. Medical professionals might also administer benzodiazepines like lorazepam if there is a risk of seizures and alcohol withdrawal.

Because heavy drinking is often to blame for alcohol-induced psychosis, treatment also involves a long-term recovery plan for living an alcohol-free life. 

How Can We Prevent Alcohol-Induced Psychosis?

Abstinence from alcohol — not drinking at all — is the best way to prevent this condition. Anyone who drinks heavily or has an alcohol use disorder is at risk for alcohol-induced psychosis. And people who’ve already experienced one episode are at greater risk of having another one.

Getting the Help We Need

we or one of our loved ones is struggling with alcohol use, it’s important to get help right away before it causes more severe complications such as alcohol-induced psychosis. The best thing we can do is contact a medical professional and be upfront and honest about our alcohol consumption. They can help direct us develop a treatment plan or direct us to resources that can help, such as an in-patient or out-patient rehabilitation center. It’s never too late to get the help we need.

If you’re drinking more than you’d like and want to cut down on your alcohol consumption, consider trying Reframe. We can help you change your drinking habits and offer tools and tips for enhancing your health and well-being. 

Alcohol and Mental Health
Popular
2023-07-05 9:00
Drinking Less
How Can Yoga Help Us Drink Less Alcohol?
This is some text inside of a div block.

This blog explores how yoga can aid in reducing alcohol consumption. It highlights how yoga enhances self-awareness, reduces stress, promotes mindfulness, builds resilience, and fosters a sense of community, providing a holistic approach to managing our relationship with alcohol for a healthier, happier lifestyle.

8 min read

Drink Less 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 hundreds 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 through the App Store or Google Play today!

Read Full Article  →

Yoga, an ancient practice that originated thousands of years ago in the East, has become a global phenomenon, embraced by millions for its physical and mental benefits. Combining physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation, yoga is a holistic approach to well-being. However, beyond its well-known benefits for flexibility, strength, and stress reduction, yoga can also play a significant role in helping us reduce or even eliminate our alcohol consumption.

At the heart of this lies the concept of mindfulness, a state of being fully present and engaged in the moment, free from distraction or judgment, and aware of our thoughts and feelings without being consumed by them. Mindfulness is a powerful tool in managing our habits and behaviors, including our relationship with alcohol. So, how exactly does yoga help us cultivate mindfulness and support us in our journey towards reducing alcohol intake? Let's explore this intriguing connection in depth.

1. Cultivating Self-Awareness Through Yoga

One of the fundamental principles of yoga is the cultivation of self-awareness. Through the practice of various asanas (postures) and pranayama (breathing exercises), yoga encourages practitioners to tune into their bodies and minds, fostering a heightened sense of self-awareness. This increased awareness can be particularly beneficial for those attempting to reduce or eliminate their alcohol consumption.

When we become more in tune with our bodies, we start to notice the effects that alcohol has on our physical and mental state. We become acutely aware of the sluggishness that follows a night of heavy drinking, or the creeping anxiety that sets in as the effects of alcohol wear off. This heightened awareness can act as a powerful deterrent, prompting us to make healthier choices that align with our well-being.

2. Yoga Is a Natural Stress Reliever

Stress is a common trigger for alcohol consumption. Many of us turn to drinking as a coping mechanism to deal with the pressures and demands of daily life. However, yoga, with its emphasis on deep breathing and physical movement, serves as a natural stress reliever.

The practice of yoga stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and relaxation. This stimulation helps to lower heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels, all of which are associated with stress. By reducing stress, yoga can help to remove one of the primary triggers for alcohol consumption, providing a healthier alternative for managing challenging emotions.

3. The Role of Mindfulness in Yoga

Yoga is not merely about physical movement; it's also about cultivating mindfulness. During a yoga session, we are encouraged to focus on our breath and to be fully present in the moment. This practice of mindfulness can be incredibly beneficial for those of us attempting to reduce or stop our alcohol consumption.

Mindfulness helps us break free from habitual patterns of behavior. When we are mindful, we are more likely to recognize the urge to drink as just that — an urge. This awareness allows us to respond to this craving in a healthier way, rather than automatically reaching for a drink. By cultivating mindfulness through yoga, we can develop healthier responses to our cravings and urges.

4. Building Resilience With Yoga

Yoga is a practice that requires patience, persistence, and resilience. Some postures can be challenging, and progress may be slow. However, this process of overcoming challenges on the yoga mat can help build resilience, a crucial attribute for those of us changing our drinking habits.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity. It's about having the mental strength to cope with life's challenges without resorting to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as alcohol. By building resilience through the practice of yoga, we can navigate the ups and downs of life without relying on alcohol as a crutch.

5. Fostering a Sense of Community Through Yoga

Lastly, yoga fosters a sense of community. Many of us attempting to cut back or quit drinking alcohol find it helpful to surround ourselves with supportive individuals who understand our journey. Yoga classes provide a safe, supportive environment where we can connect with others who are also committed to living a healthier lifestyle.

Yoga and Drinking Less Alcohol: Final Thoughts

Yoga is a powerful tool that can support us in our journey towards reducing or stopping alcohol consumption. By enhancing self-awareness, reducing stress, promoting mindfulness, building resilience, and fostering a sense of community, yoga provides a holistic approach to managing our relationship with alcohol.

If you're on a journey towards cutting back on alcohol or eliminating it from your life, why not give yoga a try? You may find that it's just the tool you need to support your journey towards a healthier, happier you!

Yoga, an ancient practice that originated thousands of years ago in the East, has become a global phenomenon, embraced by millions for its physical and mental benefits. Combining physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation, yoga is a holistic approach to well-being. However, beyond its well-known benefits for flexibility, strength, and stress reduction, yoga can also play a significant role in helping us reduce or even eliminate our alcohol consumption.

At the heart of this lies the concept of mindfulness, a state of being fully present and engaged in the moment, free from distraction or judgment, and aware of our thoughts and feelings without being consumed by them. Mindfulness is a powerful tool in managing our habits and behaviors, including our relationship with alcohol. So, how exactly does yoga help us cultivate mindfulness and support us in our journey towards reducing alcohol intake? Let's explore this intriguing connection in depth.

1. Cultivating Self-Awareness Through Yoga

One of the fundamental principles of yoga is the cultivation of self-awareness. Through the practice of various asanas (postures) and pranayama (breathing exercises), yoga encourages practitioners to tune into their bodies and minds, fostering a heightened sense of self-awareness. This increased awareness can be particularly beneficial for those attempting to reduce or eliminate their alcohol consumption.

When we become more in tune with our bodies, we start to notice the effects that alcohol has on our physical and mental state. We become acutely aware of the sluggishness that follows a night of heavy drinking, or the creeping anxiety that sets in as the effects of alcohol wear off. This heightened awareness can act as a powerful deterrent, prompting us to make healthier choices that align with our well-being.

2. Yoga Is a Natural Stress Reliever

Stress is a common trigger for alcohol consumption. Many of us turn to drinking as a coping mechanism to deal with the pressures and demands of daily life. However, yoga, with its emphasis on deep breathing and physical movement, serves as a natural stress reliever.

The practice of yoga stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and relaxation. This stimulation helps to lower heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels, all of which are associated with stress. By reducing stress, yoga can help to remove one of the primary triggers for alcohol consumption, providing a healthier alternative for managing challenging emotions.

3. The Role of Mindfulness in Yoga

Yoga is not merely about physical movement; it's also about cultivating mindfulness. During a yoga session, we are encouraged to focus on our breath and to be fully present in the moment. This practice of mindfulness can be incredibly beneficial for those of us attempting to reduce or stop our alcohol consumption.

Mindfulness helps us break free from habitual patterns of behavior. When we are mindful, we are more likely to recognize the urge to drink as just that — an urge. This awareness allows us to respond to this craving in a healthier way, rather than automatically reaching for a drink. By cultivating mindfulness through yoga, we can develop healthier responses to our cravings and urges.

4. Building Resilience With Yoga

Yoga is a practice that requires patience, persistence, and resilience. Some postures can be challenging, and progress may be slow. However, this process of overcoming challenges on the yoga mat can help build resilience, a crucial attribute for those of us changing our drinking habits.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity. It's about having the mental strength to cope with life's challenges without resorting to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as alcohol. By building resilience through the practice of yoga, we can navigate the ups and downs of life without relying on alcohol as a crutch.

5. Fostering a Sense of Community Through Yoga

Lastly, yoga fosters a sense of community. Many of us attempting to cut back or quit drinking alcohol find it helpful to surround ourselves with supportive individuals who understand our journey. Yoga classes provide a safe, supportive environment where we can connect with others who are also committed to living a healthier lifestyle.

Yoga and Drinking Less Alcohol: Final Thoughts

Yoga is a powerful tool that can support us in our journey towards reducing or stopping alcohol consumption. By enhancing self-awareness, reducing stress, promoting mindfulness, building resilience, and fostering a sense of community, yoga provides a holistic approach to managing our relationship with alcohol.

If you're on a journey towards cutting back on alcohol or eliminating it from your life, why not give yoga a try? You may find that it's just the tool you need to support your journey towards a healthier, happier you!

Drinking Less
Alcohol and Mental Health
2023-08-30 9:00
Drinking Habits
How Alcohol Misuse in Parents Affects Their Children
This is some text inside of a div block.

The effects of growing up around alcohol misuse can be so profound that they last a lifetime. Learn more about the emotional, interpersonal, and behavioral consequences in children of alcohol-dependent parents.

18 min read

Say Goodbye to Alcohol 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 hundreds 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 through the App Store or Google Play today!

Read Full Article  →

Does this sound like you? You have major trust issues and just don’t feel like you can depend on anyone. You’ve always struggled with low self-esteem. You have a terrible fear of abandonment and will do anything to keep people happy. You always feel “on guard,” assessing situations or people for any potential threat. 

If any or all of these characteristics sound familiar, it’s possible that you grew up with a parent who struggled with alcohol misuse. Sadly, this is pretty common: research suggests that about 1 in 10 children lives with a parent who has an alcohol use disorder, and about 1 in 5 adults lived with a person who used alcohol when they were growing up.

A common misconception around alcohol misuse is that it only affects the person who is drinking — but this is far from true. Alcohol misuse can have far-reaching effects on family members, friends, and loved ones of those who drink. And children can be among the most impacted. In fact, the effects of growing up around alcoholic parents are sometimes so profound that they last a lifetime. 

In this post, we’ll explore the effects that growing up with alcoholic parents can have on children, including the emotional, interpersonal, and behavioral consequences. Let’s dive in.

Effects of Alcoholism on the Family: the Psychological and Emotional Side

An alcoholic parent’s depressed child sitting on the floor

Research shows that growing up with alcoholic parents can have profound and long-lasting psychological and emotional effects. Here are some of the more common:

1. Trust Issues

There is often a great deal of denial, lying, and keeping secrets in the homes of people with alcohol misuse. As a result, children start to learn that they can’t trust their parent. For instance, perhaps their parent promised to quit drinking but continually failed to follow through. Over time, these broken promises can create serious trust issues that last into adulthood. Because of this, adult children of parents with alcohol misuse often struggle with romantic relationships; they avoid getting too close to others for fear of being disappointed yet again. 

Furthermore, if a child’s parent was mean or abusive when they drank, adult children can grow up with a fear of all angry people. They may spend their lives avoiding conflict or confrontation of any kind for fear that it could turn violent.

2. Self-Judgment and Low Self-Esteem

Children with parents who have alcohol use disorder often develop negative self-images and are incredibly hard on themselves. Because children are dependent on caregivers, their self-perception develops as a reflection of how they are viewed by their parents. A parent misusing alcohol may neglect their child or lash out at them, which can cause life-long issues with self-image. Even as adults, many children who grew up with alcohol misuse struggle with confidence, self-doubt, feelings of inadequacy, and low self-worth. They may come to see themselves as different from other people and never good enough. Sadly, this can create further isolation, making it difficult for them to interact with others and form relationships.

3. Skewed Notion of “Normal”

Many children of parents who misuse alcohol have a skewed notion of what it means to be “normal.” Alcohol can cause tremendous dysfunction within the family system, preventing children from experiencing a stable living environment. Because drinking is often normalized in the homes of people with alcohol misuse, children can struggle to distinguish between “good” role models and “bad” ones. They also might end up feeling conflicted, confused, and self-conscious when they realize that drinking isn’t considered normal in other families. 

4. Difficulty With Emotions

Children may feel responsible for their parents or siblings and find themselves behaving more like a parent, especially if their parent is absent or unable to function. This can lead to a host of negative emotions, such as fear, shame, embarrassment, anger, guilt, and denial — which they learn to hide as a defense mechanism. However, hiding negative emotions for extended periods can cause people to shut down all emotions in adulthood. Positive emotions, such as love, joy, and excitement, can become just as difficult to experience and express as the negative ones.

5. A Need for Control

Living in a household with a parent misusing alcohol often brings a great deal of chaos and instability. As a result, children feel vulnerable and helpless. This lack of control can result in an extreme need for control later on in life — over their life, the situations they find themselves in, or the behaviors of others. An intense need for control can lead to problems with forming and maintaining healthy relationships.

6. Hypervigilance 

At a young age, children with a parent who is misusing alcohol learn to become aware of potential dangers or threats to their safety and well-being. This can lead to hypervigilance, an increased state of awareness that causes sensitivity to surroundings. As an adult, extreme and excessive attentiveness can distract from work, family life, and other relationships, causing them to continually be “on guard.” Even if some dangers aren’t necessarily real, they become obsessed with knowing all the possible dangers. Experts believe that hypervigilance stems from the shame and pain experienced in childhood of having parents with alcohol use disorder.

7. Fear of Abandonment

Many times parents with alcohol misuse are emotionally or physically detached. This can cause a child to develop a debilitating fear of abandonment. In adulthood, this can cause them to hold onto toxic relationships for fear of being alone. Similarly, many children of parents with alcohol misuse end up constantly seeking approval from others and basing their self-worth on helping others. They can become people-pleasers who are devastated if someone isn’t happy with them; they live in fear of any kind of criticism. This can also drive them to become perfectionists, overachievers, or workaholics with a strong sense of responsibility.

Diagram about the psychological and emotional effects of having alcoholic parents

Alcoholism’s Effects on Family Dynamics: the Behavioral Aspects

Growing up with a parent who misuses alcohol not only affects the emotional well-being of a child, it also leads to behavioral changes that can be difficult to manage. For instance, research shows that children of parents who use alcohol are more likely to display rule-breaking, risk-taking, aggressiveness, and impulsivity in childhood. This may include things like getting into fights, shoplifting, or even self-harm.

They also tend to externalize their anger, which can manifest as manipulating other people, lacking empathy, and being unaffected by the consequences of their actions. As they get older, they’re more likely to engage in promiscuous sexual behavior and enter into unhealthy, abusive relationships.

Furthermore, it’s not uncommon for children to have problems in school and isolate themselves from their peers. Some research has found an association between parents’ use of alcohol and teens’ lower performance in school. These are some of the academic effects they might suffer from:

  • Low grade point averages (GPA)
  • Grade-level retention/failed grades
  • Failure to pursue secondary education
  • Poor performance in math, reading, and spelling
  • Unexcused absences/tardiness 
  • Impaired learning capacity
  • Poor speech and language development in the first 3 years of life

Risk Factors for Children of Parents With Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

Children of people with an alcohol use disorder are at an increased risk for a variety of problems later in life. For instance, they’re more likely to develop alcohol use disorder and experience mental health disorders. Let’s take a closer look:

Increased Risk of Alcohol Misuse

Studies indicate that growing up with alcoholic parents can lead children to be more likely to use alcohol themselves in adolescence and in adulthood. They may begin drinking alcohol at a younger age than others and progress more quickly into dangerous levels of consumption. In fact, children with alcoholic parents are 4 times as likely to engage in excessive drinking at some point in their life, and 3 to 4 times more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder than peers who grew up with parents without an alcohol use disorder. 

Research indicates that they may turn to alcohol as a way of dealing with emotions that they aren’t able or willing to express, such as guilt, shame, or anger. They also tend to view alcohol as a way to cope with stress. Furthermore, adult children of parents who misuse alcohol are four times more likely to choose a partner with a substance use disorder.

Increased Risk of Mental Health Disorders 

Children of parents who struggled with alcohol misuse are also at a higher risk for anxiety, depression, and personality disorders, such as antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder. Symptoms can develop at any age and continue into adulthood. 

Furthermore, growing up with one or both parents dependent on alcohol can result in symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adulthood. In one study of over 25,000 adults, those who had a parent with alcohol use disorder remembered their childhoods as “difficult” and said they struggled with “bad memories” of their parent’s alcohol use. In some cases, they may develop PTSD from witnessing domestic violence or experiencing physical, sexual, and or psychological abuse.

How To Support Children of Parents With Alcohol Misuse

If we know a person whose parent is misusing alcohol, it’s important to try to get them help. We can direct them to mutual help groups, such as AI-Anon and SMART Recovery Family and Friends, which are groups geared toward people who have been affected by the drinking of a loved one. 

AIateen is a branch of AI-Anon designed specifically for teenagers affected by the drinking of a loved one. These programs allow people to identify with peers based on similar experiences, create positive changes in their own lives, and connect with people who can understand what they’re going through. 

Similarly, children may benefit from family or individual counseling, which can help them learn to express their emotions and develop healthy coping mechanisms. Since the family unit is a critical component of substance misuse treatment, it’s often helpful to involve the entire family in the treatment process. In fact, research shows that family therapy can promote healing for both the individual struggling as well as the entire family unit. It can help the person struggling with alcohol better understand the effect their drinking has had on loved ones, and it provides loved ones the space to address unresolved issues and trauma. 

Finally, if you’re struggling with alcohol consumption and have children in the home, it’s important to reach out for help. The effect that drinking can have on your children can be detrimental to their health and well-being, both now and years down the road. While it’s never too late, research shows that when parents reduce alcohol use, especially when children are very young, children do better. 

The Bottom Line

Children of parents with alcohol use disorder can experience a wide range of psychological, emotional, and behavioral consequences that may have a lasting impact. They’re more likely to have trust issues, low self-esteem, and issues forming and maintaining relationships, not to mention an increased risk of developing alcohol use disorder and mental health conditions later in life. Without help, many of these issues can persist into adulthood and throughout their lives.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol, consider trying Reframe. We’re a neuroscience-backed app that has helped millions of people cut back on their alcohol consumption and develop healthier lifestyle habits.

Does this sound like you? You have major trust issues and just don’t feel like you can depend on anyone. You’ve always struggled with low self-esteem. You have a terrible fear of abandonment and will do anything to keep people happy. You always feel “on guard,” assessing situations or people for any potential threat. 

If any or all of these characteristics sound familiar, it’s possible that you grew up with a parent who struggled with alcohol misuse. Sadly, this is pretty common: research suggests that about 1 in 10 children lives with a parent who has an alcohol use disorder, and about 1 in 5 adults lived with a person who used alcohol when they were growing up.

A common misconception around alcohol misuse is that it only affects the person who is drinking — but this is far from true. Alcohol misuse can have far-reaching effects on family members, friends, and loved ones of those who drink. And children can be among the most impacted. In fact, the effects of growing up around alcoholic parents are sometimes so profound that they last a lifetime. 

In this post, we’ll explore the effects that growing up with alcoholic parents can have on children, including the emotional, interpersonal, and behavioral consequences. Let’s dive in.

Effects of Alcoholism on the Family: the Psychological and Emotional Side

An alcoholic parent’s depressed child sitting on the floor

Research shows that growing up with alcoholic parents can have profound and long-lasting psychological and emotional effects. Here are some of the more common:

1. Trust Issues

There is often a great deal of denial, lying, and keeping secrets in the homes of people with alcohol misuse. As a result, children start to learn that they can’t trust their parent. For instance, perhaps their parent promised to quit drinking but continually failed to follow through. Over time, these broken promises can create serious trust issues that last into adulthood. Because of this, adult children of parents with alcohol misuse often struggle with romantic relationships; they avoid getting too close to others for fear of being disappointed yet again. 

Furthermore, if a child’s parent was mean or abusive when they drank, adult children can grow up with a fear of all angry people. They may spend their lives avoiding conflict or confrontation of any kind for fear that it could turn violent.

2. Self-Judgment and Low Self-Esteem

Children with parents who have alcohol use disorder often develop negative self-images and are incredibly hard on themselves. Because children are dependent on caregivers, their self-perception develops as a reflection of how they are viewed by their parents. A parent misusing alcohol may neglect their child or lash out at them, which can cause life-long issues with self-image. Even as adults, many children who grew up with alcohol misuse struggle with confidence, self-doubt, feelings of inadequacy, and low self-worth. They may come to see themselves as different from other people and never good enough. Sadly, this can create further isolation, making it difficult for them to interact with others and form relationships.

3. Skewed Notion of “Normal”

Many children of parents who misuse alcohol have a skewed notion of what it means to be “normal.” Alcohol can cause tremendous dysfunction within the family system, preventing children from experiencing a stable living environment. Because drinking is often normalized in the homes of people with alcohol misuse, children can struggle to distinguish between “good” role models and “bad” ones. They also might end up feeling conflicted, confused, and self-conscious when they realize that drinking isn’t considered normal in other families. 

4. Difficulty With Emotions

Children may feel responsible for their parents or siblings and find themselves behaving more like a parent, especially if their parent is absent or unable to function. This can lead to a host of negative emotions, such as fear, shame, embarrassment, anger, guilt, and denial — which they learn to hide as a defense mechanism. However, hiding negative emotions for extended periods can cause people to shut down all emotions in adulthood. Positive emotions, such as love, joy, and excitement, can become just as difficult to experience and express as the negative ones.

5. A Need for Control

Living in a household with a parent misusing alcohol often brings a great deal of chaos and instability. As a result, children feel vulnerable and helpless. This lack of control can result in an extreme need for control later on in life — over their life, the situations they find themselves in, or the behaviors of others. An intense need for control can lead to problems with forming and maintaining healthy relationships.

6. Hypervigilance 

At a young age, children with a parent who is misusing alcohol learn to become aware of potential dangers or threats to their safety and well-being. This can lead to hypervigilance, an increased state of awareness that causes sensitivity to surroundings. As an adult, extreme and excessive attentiveness can distract from work, family life, and other relationships, causing them to continually be “on guard.” Even if some dangers aren’t necessarily real, they become obsessed with knowing all the possible dangers. Experts believe that hypervigilance stems from the shame and pain experienced in childhood of having parents with alcohol use disorder.

7. Fear of Abandonment

Many times parents with alcohol misuse are emotionally or physically detached. This can cause a child to develop a debilitating fear of abandonment. In adulthood, this can cause them to hold onto toxic relationships for fear of being alone. Similarly, many children of parents with alcohol misuse end up constantly seeking approval from others and basing their self-worth on helping others. They can become people-pleasers who are devastated if someone isn’t happy with them; they live in fear of any kind of criticism. This can also drive them to become perfectionists, overachievers, or workaholics with a strong sense of responsibility.

Diagram about the psychological and emotional effects of having alcoholic parents

Alcoholism’s Effects on Family Dynamics: the Behavioral Aspects

Growing up with a parent who misuses alcohol not only affects the emotional well-being of a child, it also leads to behavioral changes that can be difficult to manage. For instance, research shows that children of parents who use alcohol are more likely to display rule-breaking, risk-taking, aggressiveness, and impulsivity in childhood. This may include things like getting into fights, shoplifting, or even self-harm.

They also tend to externalize their anger, which can manifest as manipulating other people, lacking empathy, and being unaffected by the consequences of their actions. As they get older, they’re more likely to engage in promiscuous sexual behavior and enter into unhealthy, abusive relationships.

Furthermore, it’s not uncommon for children to have problems in school and isolate themselves from their peers. Some research has found an association between parents’ use of alcohol and teens’ lower performance in school. These are some of the academic effects they might suffer from:

  • Low grade point averages (GPA)
  • Grade-level retention/failed grades
  • Failure to pursue secondary education
  • Poor performance in math, reading, and spelling
  • Unexcused absences/tardiness 
  • Impaired learning capacity
  • Poor speech and language development in the first 3 years of life

Risk Factors for Children of Parents With Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

Children of people with an alcohol use disorder are at an increased risk for a variety of problems later in life. For instance, they’re more likely to develop alcohol use disorder and experience mental health disorders. Let’s take a closer look:

Increased Risk of Alcohol Misuse

Studies indicate that growing up with alcoholic parents can lead children to be more likely to use alcohol themselves in adolescence and in adulthood. They may begin drinking alcohol at a younger age than others and progress more quickly into dangerous levels of consumption. In fact, children with alcoholic parents are 4 times as likely to engage in excessive drinking at some point in their life, and 3 to 4 times more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder than peers who grew up with parents without an alcohol use disorder. 

Research indicates that they may turn to alcohol as a way of dealing with emotions that they aren’t able or willing to express, such as guilt, shame, or anger. They also tend to view alcohol as a way to cope with stress. Furthermore, adult children of parents who misuse alcohol are four times more likely to choose a partner with a substance use disorder.

Increased Risk of Mental Health Disorders 

Children of parents who struggled with alcohol misuse are also at a higher risk for anxiety, depression, and personality disorders, such as antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder. Symptoms can develop at any age and continue into adulthood. 

Furthermore, growing up with one or both parents dependent on alcohol can result in symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adulthood. In one study of over 25,000 adults, those who had a parent with alcohol use disorder remembered their childhoods as “difficult” and said they struggled with “bad memories” of their parent’s alcohol use. In some cases, they may develop PTSD from witnessing domestic violence or experiencing physical, sexual, and or psychological abuse.

How To Support Children of Parents With Alcohol Misuse

If we know a person whose parent is misusing alcohol, it’s important to try to get them help. We can direct them to mutual help groups, such as AI-Anon and SMART Recovery Family and Friends, which are groups geared toward people who have been affected by the drinking of a loved one. 

AIateen is a branch of AI-Anon designed specifically for teenagers affected by the drinking of a loved one. These programs allow people to identify with peers based on similar experiences, create positive changes in their own lives, and connect with people who can understand what they’re going through. 

Similarly, children may benefit from family or individual counseling, which can help them learn to express their emotions and develop healthy coping mechanisms. Since the family unit is a critical component of substance misuse treatment, it’s often helpful to involve the entire family in the treatment process. In fact, research shows that family therapy can promote healing for both the individual struggling as well as the entire family unit. It can help the person struggling with alcohol better understand the effect their drinking has had on loved ones, and it provides loved ones the space to address unresolved issues and trauma. 

Finally, if you’re struggling with alcohol consumption and have children in the home, it’s important to reach out for help. The effect that drinking can have on your children can be detrimental to their health and well-being, both now and years down the road. While it’s never too late, research shows that when parents reduce alcohol use, especially when children are very young, children do better. 

The Bottom Line

Children of parents with alcohol use disorder can experience a wide range of psychological, emotional, and behavioral consequences that may have a lasting impact. They’re more likely to have trust issues, low self-esteem, and issues forming and maintaining relationships, not to mention an increased risk of developing alcohol use disorder and mental health conditions later in life. Without help, many of these issues can persist into adulthood and throughout their lives.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol, consider trying Reframe. We’re a neuroscience-backed app that has helped millions of people cut back on their alcohol consumption and develop healthier lifestyle habits.

Drinking Habits
Alcohol and Mental Health
2023-07-05 9:00
Drinking Habits
Alternatives to Alcohol for Relaxation
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Looking for fresh ways to chill out without relying on alcohol? Dive into our blog for scientifically-backed relaxation methods, tasty beverage alternatives, and a journey into unique stress-busting practices.

11 min read

Relax Alcohol-Free 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 hundreds 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 through the App Store or Google Play today!

Read Full Article  →

It’s the end of a hard day. You’ve been balancing tasks at work, managing unexpected crises at home, and your to-do list is still a mile long. Your brain is buzzing, and all you want is to relax. Many of us would think about unwinding with a drink — but what if you’re trying to cut back or quit alcohol altogether? No worries! This is your one-stop guide to making leisure time a booze-free zone by finding alternatives to alcohol for relaxation.

Re-Thinking Your Beverage: Best Alcohol Substitutes

Have you bidden farewell to alcohol? That doesn't mean your glass has to stay empty! There's a whole world of refreshing, relaxing drinks to explore that won't leave you with a hangover. Here are some of our favorite alternative drinks to alcohol:

  • Herbal teas: more than just hydration. Herbal teas are a fantastic alternative to alcohol. They're warm, soothing, and come in an array of flavors. Certain herbal teas also pack a relaxing punch. What’s the best tea to replace alcohol? Here are some ideas:

    Chamomile tea is a classic choice. It contains apigenin, an antioxidant that binds to certain receptors in your brain that may promote sleepiness and reduce insomnia.

    Peppermint tea is another option. Although it's often touted for its digestive benefits, its refreshing flavor and aroma can also help to reduce headaches and enhance mood.
  • Warm milk: a nighttime classic. While it might seem like a bedtime story cliché, a glass of warm milk can be relaxing. It’s not just about the nutrients in milk — although calcium, magnesium, and potassium do promote sleep. The psychological link between warm milk and childhood can create a comforting and soothing effect.
  • Kombucha: fizzy, sweet, and good for your gut. Craving something fizzier? Kombucha is a sweet, tangy, fermented drink made from tea. It's naturally effervescent, which makes it a great substitute for beer or sparkling wine. Kombucha also contains probiotics, beneficial bacteria that can help maintain a healthy gut.
  • Natural juices: an easy way to relax. Freshly squeezed juices — especially those from fruits known for their calming properties, like oranges and cherries — can be an excellent alcohol alternative. Plus, they have the added benefit of vitamins and minerals.

Enter the World of Meditation

In addition to swapping booze for something new, there are many ways to relax without alcohol. Tons of activities can help you destress even more deeply and serve as great alternatives to alcohol for relaxation — and meditation is one of the best ones.

Remember when meditation was considered “out there”? Well, it turns out that those hippies were onto something. Modern science shows that meditation is a fantastic way to relax. Mindful meditation can help ease anxiety, depression, and pain by slowing your breathing and relaxing your body. This increases the amount of oxygen your brain gets, which leads to a decrease in feelings of anxiety and stress.

You don't need to be a yogi to meditate. Find a quiet place, sit comfortably, close your eyes, and take slow, deep breaths. Focus on your breath going in and out. When your mind wanders (and it will!), gently guide it back to your breath. Learning takes practice, but it’s worth it.

Diagram about alternative non-alcoholic beverage options

Go Green: Spend Time in Nature

Remember when your mom used to tell you to go play outside? She was right! Scientists have discovered that spending time in nature can help lower stress levels, heart rate, and blood pressure. Why? Our brains aren’t wired to be “on” all the time. But our modern, fast-paced life doesn't provide many opportunities to switch off. Nature gives our brains the break they crave.

So, whether you're hiking up a mountain or strolling through a city park, spending time outdoors is a natural stress-reliever. As a bonus, if you can squeeze in a bit of exercise while you're at it — you'll reap the added benefit of endorphins, those wonderful little chemicals our bodies produce when we're active that work as natural painkillers and mood elevators.

To kick the experience of being in nature up a notch, turn off your phone. A break from the digital world can do wonders for the mind and can serve as a great, relaxing alternative to alcohol.

Give Yoga a Whirl

If you’re a fan of stretching your body into a human pretzel, yoga is the perfect fit for you. If not, it’s still worth considering! Yoga combines breathing exercises, meditation, and poses designed to encourage relaxation and reduce stress. Practicing yoga is thought to help reduce the body's stress responses and improve mood — and it’s a great alternative to alcohol that can provide deep relaxation!

If you've never set foot in a yoga studio, don't fret. You can start with beginner classes or even online tutorials. As you move through the poses, remember to focus on your breathing — it’s an integral part of the practice.

Explore the Art of Sound Baths

If you haven't heard of sound baths yet, you're in for a treat! This unique relaxation technique involves immersing yourself in sounds and vibrations created by instruments like gongs, crystal bowls, and tuning forks. The aim? To help your body move into a deep meditative state. You can find sound bath sessions in many yoga studios, or even access recordings online.

Embark on a Culinary Adventure

How about swapping your drink for a delicious, home-cooked meal? The act of preparing a meal — chopping, sautéing, kneading, stirring — can be therapeutic. Plus, the anticipation of enjoying a delicious dish can certainly boost your mood.

Research published in the Journal of Positive Psychology shows that small, creative projects make people more relaxed and happier in their everyday lives. And let's face it — a beautiful, tasty dish is a work of art!

Floatation Therapy: Float Your Worries Away

Floating in a sensory deprivation tank might sound like science fiction, but it's an actual thing! In floatation therapy, you enter a tank filled with skin-temperature salt water. Once inside, you float effortlessly. The aim is to limit as much light and sound as possible, helping you enter a deeply relaxed state and serve as a satisfying alternative to alcohol.

In fact, scientific research shows that floatation therapy can significantly reduce anxiety and increase mental relaxation. It might not be your everyday stress-relief method, but it's a unique experience worth exploring!

Add More Laughter to Your Life

The phrase “laughter is the best medicine” is more than just a saying. Laughing not only feels good, but it also brings a host of health benefits. Science shows that laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.

Consider joining a local improv comedy group or watching a funny movie. Maybe even try laughter yoga (yes, that's a thing!). Not only will you tickle your funny bone; you'll also do your mind and body a world of good.

Adventure Awaits!

Remember, the journey to a healthier lifestyle isn't a sprint: it’s a marathon. Each small step you take towards finding alternative ways to relax without alcohol is a victory. So, take it easy, be patient with yourself, and find joy in the process of finding ways to relax that are better than booze. You've got this!

It’s the end of a hard day. You’ve been balancing tasks at work, managing unexpected crises at home, and your to-do list is still a mile long. Your brain is buzzing, and all you want is to relax. Many of us would think about unwinding with a drink — but what if you’re trying to cut back or quit alcohol altogether? No worries! This is your one-stop guide to making leisure time a booze-free zone by finding alternatives to alcohol for relaxation.

Re-Thinking Your Beverage: Best Alcohol Substitutes

Have you bidden farewell to alcohol? That doesn't mean your glass has to stay empty! There's a whole world of refreshing, relaxing drinks to explore that won't leave you with a hangover. Here are some of our favorite alternative drinks to alcohol:

  • Herbal teas: more than just hydration. Herbal teas are a fantastic alternative to alcohol. They're warm, soothing, and come in an array of flavors. Certain herbal teas also pack a relaxing punch. What’s the best tea to replace alcohol? Here are some ideas:

    Chamomile tea is a classic choice. It contains apigenin, an antioxidant that binds to certain receptors in your brain that may promote sleepiness and reduce insomnia.

    Peppermint tea is another option. Although it's often touted for its digestive benefits, its refreshing flavor and aroma can also help to reduce headaches and enhance mood.
  • Warm milk: a nighttime classic. While it might seem like a bedtime story cliché, a glass of warm milk can be relaxing. It’s not just about the nutrients in milk — although calcium, magnesium, and potassium do promote sleep. The psychological link between warm milk and childhood can create a comforting and soothing effect.
  • Kombucha: fizzy, sweet, and good for your gut. Craving something fizzier? Kombucha is a sweet, tangy, fermented drink made from tea. It's naturally effervescent, which makes it a great substitute for beer or sparkling wine. Kombucha also contains probiotics, beneficial bacteria that can help maintain a healthy gut.
  • Natural juices: an easy way to relax. Freshly squeezed juices — especially those from fruits known for their calming properties, like oranges and cherries — can be an excellent alcohol alternative. Plus, they have the added benefit of vitamins and minerals.

Enter the World of Meditation

In addition to swapping booze for something new, there are many ways to relax without alcohol. Tons of activities can help you destress even more deeply and serve as great alternatives to alcohol for relaxation — and meditation is one of the best ones.

Remember when meditation was considered “out there”? Well, it turns out that those hippies were onto something. Modern science shows that meditation is a fantastic way to relax. Mindful meditation can help ease anxiety, depression, and pain by slowing your breathing and relaxing your body. This increases the amount of oxygen your brain gets, which leads to a decrease in feelings of anxiety and stress.

You don't need to be a yogi to meditate. Find a quiet place, sit comfortably, close your eyes, and take slow, deep breaths. Focus on your breath going in and out. When your mind wanders (and it will!), gently guide it back to your breath. Learning takes practice, but it’s worth it.

Diagram about alternative non-alcoholic beverage options

Go Green: Spend Time in Nature

Remember when your mom used to tell you to go play outside? She was right! Scientists have discovered that spending time in nature can help lower stress levels, heart rate, and blood pressure. Why? Our brains aren’t wired to be “on” all the time. But our modern, fast-paced life doesn't provide many opportunities to switch off. Nature gives our brains the break they crave.

So, whether you're hiking up a mountain or strolling through a city park, spending time outdoors is a natural stress-reliever. As a bonus, if you can squeeze in a bit of exercise while you're at it — you'll reap the added benefit of endorphins, those wonderful little chemicals our bodies produce when we're active that work as natural painkillers and mood elevators.

To kick the experience of being in nature up a notch, turn off your phone. A break from the digital world can do wonders for the mind and can serve as a great, relaxing alternative to alcohol.

Give Yoga a Whirl

If you’re a fan of stretching your body into a human pretzel, yoga is the perfect fit for you. If not, it’s still worth considering! Yoga combines breathing exercises, meditation, and poses designed to encourage relaxation and reduce stress. Practicing yoga is thought to help reduce the body's stress responses and improve mood — and it’s a great alternative to alcohol that can provide deep relaxation!

If you've never set foot in a yoga studio, don't fret. You can start with beginner classes or even online tutorials. As you move through the poses, remember to focus on your breathing — it’s an integral part of the practice.

Explore the Art of Sound Baths

If you haven't heard of sound baths yet, you're in for a treat! This unique relaxation technique involves immersing yourself in sounds and vibrations created by instruments like gongs, crystal bowls, and tuning forks. The aim? To help your body move into a deep meditative state. You can find sound bath sessions in many yoga studios, or even access recordings online.

Embark on a Culinary Adventure

How about swapping your drink for a delicious, home-cooked meal? The act of preparing a meal — chopping, sautéing, kneading, stirring — can be therapeutic. Plus, the anticipation of enjoying a delicious dish can certainly boost your mood.

Research published in the Journal of Positive Psychology shows that small, creative projects make people more relaxed and happier in their everyday lives. And let's face it — a beautiful, tasty dish is a work of art!

Floatation Therapy: Float Your Worries Away

Floating in a sensory deprivation tank might sound like science fiction, but it's an actual thing! In floatation therapy, you enter a tank filled with skin-temperature salt water. Once inside, you float effortlessly. The aim is to limit as much light and sound as possible, helping you enter a deeply relaxed state and serve as a satisfying alternative to alcohol.

In fact, scientific research shows that floatation therapy can significantly reduce anxiety and increase mental relaxation. It might not be your everyday stress-relief method, but it's a unique experience worth exploring!

Add More Laughter to Your Life

The phrase “laughter is the best medicine” is more than just a saying. Laughing not only feels good, but it also brings a host of health benefits. Science shows that laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.

Consider joining a local improv comedy group or watching a funny movie. Maybe even try laughter yoga (yes, that's a thing!). Not only will you tickle your funny bone; you'll also do your mind and body a world of good.

Adventure Awaits!

Remember, the journey to a healthier lifestyle isn't a sprint: it’s a marathon. Each small step you take towards finding alternative ways to relax without alcohol is a victory. So, take it easy, be patient with yourself, and find joy in the process of finding ways to relax that are better than booze. You've got this!

Drinking Habits
Alcohol and Mental Health
2024-02-27 9:00
Alcohol and Mental Health
How Much Alcohol Is in Rum?
This is some text inside of a div block.

Curious about the alcohol content and calories in rum? Read our latest blog to find out what’s inside the rum bottle — and how to stay safe!

19 min read

Ready To Change Your Relationship With Rum — and Alcohol in General? Reframe Can Help!

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 hundreds 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!

Read Full Article  →

How Much Alcohol Is in Rum?

In the first written account of rum, explorers who landed on the island of Nevis in 1651 describe it with a bit of trepidation: “The chief fuddling they make in the islands is Rumbullion, alias Kill-Divil, and is made of sugarcanes distilled, a hot, hellish, and terrible liquor.”

What makes it so “hot and hellish?” Let’s look closer at the alcohol content in rum and dig into the nutritional facts. Is rum good for you, or were those early explorers on to something when they gave it the side-eye? Let’s find out!

Rum Production

Alcohol glasses on a table

The production of any type of alcohol happens in two basic steps: fermentation and distillation. From there it goes to an optional third step (aging) before ending up in a bottle.

  1. Fermentation. The basic “recipe” for making alcohol calls for 3 ingredients: water, sugar, and yeast. Depending on the drink being made, the sugars come from different sources. For example, grapes make wine, barley makes beer, apples make cider, and so forth. Yeast eats the sugars, releasing carbon dioxide and alcohol — the biological process known as fermentation. Voila! We now have booze.

    While this seems simple enough, there are a few more details to consider. This process is anaerobic, which means it doesn’t require oxygen, but the temperature has to be just right — veer off by a few degrees, and the whole thing falls flat.
  2. Distillation. The liquid that we get from fermentation, however, isn’t the final product. First, it needs to be distilled. The liquid is heated, which causes the alcohol to evaporate and separate from the water in the mixture. Once the boozy vapor has cooled, it turns back into a highly concentrated liquid. The more times this process is repeated, the more pure and potent the final product ends up being.
  3. Aging. This step is less about science and more about patience (although there’s still a lot of chemistry involved). Many types of alcohol are stored in wooden containers that allow the chemicals to undergo various reactions with the wood and air. The result? A different flavor profile, often smoother and more complex.

Making Spirits Bright (and Different)

So if all spirits are made in a similar way, what makes them different? One of the main distinctions lies in the source of sugar used in fermentation. For example, tequila owes its characteristic flavor to the blue agave plant, whiskey is made from fermented grain mash, while vodka is usually made from wheat or rye, but can be produced using potatoes, grapes, or sugar beets.

Rum in particular is made from fermented sugarcane juice, sugarcane syrup, sugarcane molasses, and other sugarcane by-products. Sugarcane was first fermented in 350 BC in India, and rum was first distilled in the Caribbean on sugarcane plantations in the 17th century.

Today, rum production is mostly based in the Caribbean, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. However, Brazil is famous for its own unique variety made from fresh sugarcane juice, known as "Cachaça." While each region has its own signature touch, most rum falls into one of three categories.

Through the Ages of Rum

The aging process produces different varieties of rum: light, gold, and dark. Here’s a brief profile of each one:

  • Light rum. Also known as white or silver rum, light rum is usually aged for a shorter period compared to its darker counterparts. It's often aged in stainless steel tanks or for a very short time in wooden barrels. It ends up with a mild, slightly sweet taste, since it doesn’t have the chance to soak up as much of the barrel’s wood flavor.
  • Gold rum. Gold rum starts off similarly to light rum but gets its color and complexity from aging in wooden barrels. This process imparts flavors reminiscent of vanilla, almond, citrus, and caramel.
  • Dark rum. While the process of making dark rum is similar to the others, there’s an extra step involved, typically the addition of caramelized sugar or molasses for fermentation. As the name suggests, it’s the darkest in color and soaks in the barrels the longest. The result? A heavier, deeper, and more robust flavor.

Each type of rum is distinctly different in more than just color and flavor. So how does their alcohol content stack up?

ABV: The Rum Range

Rum alcohol content depends on the type (as well as on a few other factors). Before we get into all that, let’s review how alcohol content ends up being different across various types of drinks in the first place.

Alcohol content is a way to quantify the strength of an alcoholic beverage. It can be given in 2 forms: alcohol by volume (ABV) or “proof.”

As a distilled spirit, rum usually contains around 40% alcohol by volume (ABV), which is equivalent to 80 proof. This rule isn’t hard and fast; different types of rum can range from 20% to 75.5% ABV.

This wide range has to do with the details of its production, partially overlapping with the color and flavor profiles. However, there are a few extra nuances. 

  • Light rum is typically around 40% ABV, which is the standard for rum. Light rum is primarily used in cocktails, which warrants a balanced ABV that doesn’t overpower other ingredients.
  • Gold rum hovers around 40% ABV as well — a “sweet spot” that allows the richer flavor to come through without being too harsh.
  • Dark rum clocks in a bit higher, ranging from 40 to 50%. Some premium or overproof varieties can go even higher. 
  • Overproof rum is a heavy-hitting dark rum variety that contains at least 57.5% ABV, with some varieties reaching as much as 75.5% ABV, or 151 proof.
  • Flavored rums are infused with fruit flavors and usually contain about 40% ABV, or 80 proof.
  • Spiced rums are also around 40 % ABV. The focus here is on the infusion of spices and flavorings, and the lower ABV helps maintain a balanced profile.

These guidelines are general, but each rum producer has their own philosophy and approach. Let’s take a look at how major rums make their mark.

Alcohol Content in Different Brands of Rum

Alcohol Content in Different Brands of Rum

Here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular brands of rum:

  • Bacardi: 40% ABV
  • Captain Morgan: 40% ABV
  • Malibu: 20% ABV
  • Admiral Nelson: 35% ABV
  • Stroh: 80% ABV
  • Whaler’s: 30 to 40% ABV
  • Tommy Bahama: 40% ABV
  • Castillo: 40% ABV

Clearly, Malibu stands out among the rest and contains the least amount of alcohol by volume. Malibu is classified as a liqueur, which is why it has a lower alcohol content compared to standard rums. Liqueurs are usually lower in alcohol with added ingredients like sugars and flavoring.

So besides alcohol (and sometimes flavoring), what else is in that rum bottle?

Rum: The Nutritional Profile

Ever wondered how many calories are in rum? The answer depends on the amount of alcohol, but on average a shot of 40% ABV rum contains about 97 calories per 1.5 ounces (44 ml). That amount can skyrocket when it gets added to mixed drinks. Here’s what that can look like:

  • A Rum and Coke contains about 150-200 calories per serving.
  • A Piña Colada is traditionally made with light rum, coconut cream, and pineapple juice. These heavy ingredients will typically set us back by about 230-300 calories per serving, but can be higher depending on the brand of the mixers.
  • A Daiquiri clocks in at about 180-220 calories for a standard serving. Most of the calories come from the rum and the sugar in the fruit juice.
  • A Hurricane is made from light and dark rums, passion fruit juice, orange juice, lime juice, simple syrup, and grenadine. It’s about 250-320 calories per serving, depending on the amount of rum and the sweetness of the juices.
  • A Dark ‘n’ Stormy has roughly 180-240 calories per serving, mostly from the rum and the sugar in the ginger beer it’s made from.
  • One Mai Tai is around 260-330 calories due to the mixture of light and dark rums, lime juice, orange curaçao, orgeat syrup, and simple syrup.
  • A Long Island Iced Tea is made from vodka, tequila, light rum, triple sec, gin, a splash of cola, and lemon or lime juice. In spite of the innocuous-sounding name, it can set us back as much as 300-380 calories for a single serving!

And that’s not the whole story. There are many other reasons why rum is a nutritional flop:

  • Empty calories. Even without the mixers, the calories in rum are so-called “empty calories” that don’t do very much for us nutrition-wise. The body tends to process alcohol first, leaving calories from food to be stored as fat.
  • Sugar in mixers. While rum itself doesn't contain sugar after the distillation process, many rum-based beverages and cocktails utilize sugary mixers or added sweeteners, further increasing calorie count without nutritional benefits.
  • Lack of nutrients. Unlike foods that contribute to our daily nutrient requirements, rum doesn’t offer vitamins, minerals, fiber, or protein. It's just alcohol and water with trace amounts of other compounds that contribute to its flavor and aroma.

Is Rum Good for You?

For those watching their alcohol intake (or their weight and nutrition), rum is probably not the best choice. Here are some of the downsides of choosing rum:

  • Rum has a high alcohol content. There’s no denying it — like other spirits, rum has a high ABV that gets us intoxicated quickly. In the short term, alcohol affects cognitive processes and judgment, so we might make decisions that don’t line up with our true intentions. We might also wake up with a serious hangover the next morning.

    In the long term, excessive alcohol use wreaks havoc on our system, causing liver damage, cardiovascular problems, stomach issues, eight gain, and cognitive impairment. If we overdo it for a long time, our tolerance will start rising and dependence might creep in, raising the risk of developing alcohol use disorder (AUD).
  • Sugary drinks mask the flavor of alcohol. It can be easy to drink more than we intended if our rum-based mixed drink contains sugary syrups and juices that mask the flavor of booze. Plus, those calories really add up quickly!
  • Rum-based drink names make them sound safer than they are. Long Island Iced Tea in particular is notorious for misleading folks into thinking it’s lighter than it is — both in terms of ABV and calories.

All of this adds up to a pretty resounding conclusion: no, rum is not very good for you! While it’s still possible to enjoy rum once in a while, moderation is key — although ultimately, you’re probably better off without it.

Tips for Staying Safe

If you’re considering quitting or cutting back on rum (or alcohol in general), here are some tips to help you on your way:

  1. Reflect on your alcohol intake. Track your drinking for a while to see if any patterns emerge. Don’t judge — just approach the process with curiosity and excitement. You’re making an important change in your life, and that’s something to celebrate.
  2. Expand your support circle. Everything is easier with a tribe to support you, so find and expand yours! In addition to friends and family members, there are lots of online support communities (such as Reframe!) ready to cheer you on.
  3. Fill your life with meaning. Find alcohol-free activities you enjoy and pursue them. Whether it’s hiking, kickboxing, learning graphic design, planting a vegetable garden in your backyard, making your own pasta, or hosting a mocktail trivia night, there’s a whole world out there to explore.
  4. Ask for help. If you want to change your drinking habits but don’t know how, rest assured that there is a lot of help available out there — don’t hesitate to seek it out if you need to. From therapy targeted at alcohol misuse, to distinct methods like cognitive behavioral therapy or dialectical behavioral therapy, to online communities and mindfulness-based approaches, there are many paths to explore.

Summing Up

Rum has a strong presence in many cultures and has been around for generations, but it’s a good idea to be careful when drinking it. Remember, the flavor in many rum cocktails comes from the mixers, so non-alcoholic versions of the same cocktails are always an option! There’s always room for new traditions and new trends when it comes to enjoying tropical beverages. Furthermore, there is so much to discover when it comes to what we do for fun, ways in which we relax, and how we view different components of our lives — including alcohol.

How Much Alcohol Is in Rum?

In the first written account of rum, explorers who landed on the island of Nevis in 1651 describe it with a bit of trepidation: “The chief fuddling they make in the islands is Rumbullion, alias Kill-Divil, and is made of sugarcanes distilled, a hot, hellish, and terrible liquor.”

What makes it so “hot and hellish?” Let’s look closer at the alcohol content in rum and dig into the nutritional facts. Is rum good for you, or were those early explorers on to something when they gave it the side-eye? Let’s find out!

Rum Production

Alcohol glasses on a table

The production of any type of alcohol happens in two basic steps: fermentation and distillation. From there it goes to an optional third step (aging) before ending up in a bottle.

  1. Fermentation. The basic “recipe” for making alcohol calls for 3 ingredients: water, sugar, and yeast. Depending on the drink being made, the sugars come from different sources. For example, grapes make wine, barley makes beer, apples make cider, and so forth. Yeast eats the sugars, releasing carbon dioxide and alcohol — the biological process known as fermentation. Voila! We now have booze.

    While this seems simple enough, there are a few more details to consider. This process is anaerobic, which means it doesn’t require oxygen, but the temperature has to be just right — veer off by a few degrees, and the whole thing falls flat.
  2. Distillation. The liquid that we get from fermentation, however, isn’t the final product. First, it needs to be distilled. The liquid is heated, which causes the alcohol to evaporate and separate from the water in the mixture. Once the boozy vapor has cooled, it turns back into a highly concentrated liquid. The more times this process is repeated, the more pure and potent the final product ends up being.
  3. Aging. This step is less about science and more about patience (although there’s still a lot of chemistry involved). Many types of alcohol are stored in wooden containers that allow the chemicals to undergo various reactions with the wood and air. The result? A different flavor profile, often smoother and more complex.

Making Spirits Bright (and Different)

So if all spirits are made in a similar way, what makes them different? One of the main distinctions lies in the source of sugar used in fermentation. For example, tequila owes its characteristic flavor to the blue agave plant, whiskey is made from fermented grain mash, while vodka is usually made from wheat or rye, but can be produced using potatoes, grapes, or sugar beets.

Rum in particular is made from fermented sugarcane juice, sugarcane syrup, sugarcane molasses, and other sugarcane by-products. Sugarcane was first fermented in 350 BC in India, and rum was first distilled in the Caribbean on sugarcane plantations in the 17th century.

Today, rum production is mostly based in the Caribbean, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. However, Brazil is famous for its own unique variety made from fresh sugarcane juice, known as "Cachaça." While each region has its own signature touch, most rum falls into one of three categories.

Through the Ages of Rum

The aging process produces different varieties of rum: light, gold, and dark. Here’s a brief profile of each one:

  • Light rum. Also known as white or silver rum, light rum is usually aged for a shorter period compared to its darker counterparts. It's often aged in stainless steel tanks or for a very short time in wooden barrels. It ends up with a mild, slightly sweet taste, since it doesn’t have the chance to soak up as much of the barrel’s wood flavor.
  • Gold rum. Gold rum starts off similarly to light rum but gets its color and complexity from aging in wooden barrels. This process imparts flavors reminiscent of vanilla, almond, citrus, and caramel.
  • Dark rum. While the process of making dark rum is similar to the others, there’s an extra step involved, typically the addition of caramelized sugar or molasses for fermentation. As the name suggests, it’s the darkest in color and soaks in the barrels the longest. The result? A heavier, deeper, and more robust flavor.

Each type of rum is distinctly different in more than just color and flavor. So how does their alcohol content stack up?

ABV: The Rum Range

Rum alcohol content depends on the type (as well as on a few other factors). Before we get into all that, let’s review how alcohol content ends up being different across various types of drinks in the first place.

Alcohol content is a way to quantify the strength of an alcoholic beverage. It can be given in 2 forms: alcohol by volume (ABV) or “proof.”

As a distilled spirit, rum usually contains around 40% alcohol by volume (ABV), which is equivalent to 80 proof. This rule isn’t hard and fast; different types of rum can range from 20% to 75.5% ABV.

This wide range has to do with the details of its production, partially overlapping with the color and flavor profiles. However, there are a few extra nuances. 

  • Light rum is typically around 40% ABV, which is the standard for rum. Light rum is primarily used in cocktails, which warrants a balanced ABV that doesn’t overpower other ingredients.
  • Gold rum hovers around 40% ABV as well — a “sweet spot” that allows the richer flavor to come through without being too harsh.
  • Dark rum clocks in a bit higher, ranging from 40 to 50%. Some premium or overproof varieties can go even higher. 
  • Overproof rum is a heavy-hitting dark rum variety that contains at least 57.5% ABV, with some varieties reaching as much as 75.5% ABV, or 151 proof.
  • Flavored rums are infused with fruit flavors and usually contain about 40% ABV, or 80 proof.
  • Spiced rums are also around 40 % ABV. The focus here is on the infusion of spices and flavorings, and the lower ABV helps maintain a balanced profile.

These guidelines are general, but each rum producer has their own philosophy and approach. Let’s take a look at how major rums make their mark.

Alcohol Content in Different Brands of Rum

Alcohol Content in Different Brands of Rum

Here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular brands of rum:

  • Bacardi: 40% ABV
  • Captain Morgan: 40% ABV
  • Malibu: 20% ABV
  • Admiral Nelson: 35% ABV
  • Stroh: 80% ABV
  • Whaler’s: 30 to 40% ABV
  • Tommy Bahama: 40% ABV
  • Castillo: 40% ABV

Clearly, Malibu stands out among the rest and contains the least amount of alcohol by volume. Malibu is classified as a liqueur, which is why it has a lower alcohol content compared to standard rums. Liqueurs are usually lower in alcohol with added ingredients like sugars and flavoring.

So besides alcohol (and sometimes flavoring), what else is in that rum bottle?

Rum: The Nutritional Profile

Ever wondered how many calories are in rum? The answer depends on the amount of alcohol, but on average a shot of 40% ABV rum contains about 97 calories per 1.5 ounces (44 ml). That amount can skyrocket when it gets added to mixed drinks. Here’s what that can look like:

  • A Rum and Coke contains about 150-200 calories per serving.
  • A Piña Colada is traditionally made with light rum, coconut cream, and pineapple juice. These heavy ingredients will typically set us back by about 230-300 calories per serving, but can be higher depending on the brand of the mixers.
  • A Daiquiri clocks in at about 180-220 calories for a standard serving. Most of the calories come from the rum and the sugar in the fruit juice.
  • A Hurricane is made from light and dark rums, passion fruit juice, orange juice, lime juice, simple syrup, and grenadine. It’s about 250-320 calories per serving, depending on the amount of rum and the sweetness of the juices.
  • A Dark ‘n’ Stormy has roughly 180-240 calories per serving, mostly from the rum and the sugar in the ginger beer it’s made from.
  • One Mai Tai is around 260-330 calories due to the mixture of light and dark rums, lime juice, orange curaçao, orgeat syrup, and simple syrup.
  • A Long Island Iced Tea is made from vodka, tequila, light rum, triple sec, gin, a splash of cola, and lemon or lime juice. In spite of the innocuous-sounding name, it can set us back as much as 300-380 calories for a single serving!

And that’s not the whole story. There are many other reasons why rum is a nutritional flop:

  • Empty calories. Even without the mixers, the calories in rum are so-called “empty calories” that don’t do very much for us nutrition-wise. The body tends to process alcohol first, leaving calories from food to be stored as fat.
  • Sugar in mixers. While rum itself doesn't contain sugar after the distillation process, many rum-based beverages and cocktails utilize sugary mixers or added sweeteners, further increasing calorie count without nutritional benefits.
  • Lack of nutrients. Unlike foods that contribute to our daily nutrient requirements, rum doesn’t offer vitamins, minerals, fiber, or protein. It's just alcohol and water with trace amounts of other compounds that contribute to its flavor and aroma.

Is Rum Good for You?

For those watching their alcohol intake (or their weight and nutrition), rum is probably not the best choice. Here are some of the downsides of choosing rum:

  • Rum has a high alcohol content. There’s no denying it — like other spirits, rum has a high ABV that gets us intoxicated quickly. In the short term, alcohol affects cognitive processes and judgment, so we might make decisions that don’t line up with our true intentions. We might also wake up with a serious hangover the next morning.

    In the long term, excessive alcohol use wreaks havoc on our system, causing liver damage, cardiovascular problems, stomach issues, eight gain, and cognitive impairment. If we overdo it for a long time, our tolerance will start rising and dependence might creep in, raising the risk of developing alcohol use disorder (AUD).
  • Sugary drinks mask the flavor of alcohol. It can be easy to drink more than we intended if our rum-based mixed drink contains sugary syrups and juices that mask the flavor of booze. Plus, those calories really add up quickly!
  • Rum-based drink names make them sound safer than they are. Long Island Iced Tea in particular is notorious for misleading folks into thinking it’s lighter than it is — both in terms of ABV and calories.

All of this adds up to a pretty resounding conclusion: no, rum is not very good for you! While it’s still possible to enjoy rum once in a while, moderation is key — although ultimately, you’re probably better off without it.

Tips for Staying Safe

If you’re considering quitting or cutting back on rum (or alcohol in general), here are some tips to help you on your way:

  1. Reflect on your alcohol intake. Track your drinking for a while to see if any patterns emerge. Don’t judge — just approach the process with curiosity and excitement. You’re making an important change in your life, and that’s something to celebrate.
  2. Expand your support circle. Everything is easier with a tribe to support you, so find and expand yours! In addition to friends and family members, there are lots of online support communities (such as Reframe!) ready to cheer you on.
  3. Fill your life with meaning. Find alcohol-free activities you enjoy and pursue them. Whether it’s hiking, kickboxing, learning graphic design, planting a vegetable garden in your backyard, making your own pasta, or hosting a mocktail trivia night, there’s a whole world out there to explore.
  4. Ask for help. If you want to change your drinking habits but don’t know how, rest assured that there is a lot of help available out there — don’t hesitate to seek it out if you need to. From therapy targeted at alcohol misuse, to distinct methods like cognitive behavioral therapy or dialectical behavioral therapy, to online communities and mindfulness-based approaches, there are many paths to explore.

Summing Up

Rum has a strong presence in many cultures and has been around for generations, but it’s a good idea to be careful when drinking it. Remember, the flavor in many rum cocktails comes from the mixers, so non-alcoholic versions of the same cocktails are always an option! There’s always room for new traditions and new trends when it comes to enjoying tropical beverages. Furthermore, there is so much to discover when it comes to what we do for fun, ways in which we relax, and how we view different components of our lives — including alcohol.

Alcohol and Mental Health
2024-02-16 9:00
Alcohol and Mental Health
6 Frequently Asked Questions About Drinking Alcohol
This is some text inside of a div block.

Have questions about alcohol? Check out our latest blog to learn how to get rid of a hangover headache, sober up fast, and more!

19 min read

Ready To Learn More About Alcohol and Change Your Relationship With It?

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 hundreds 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!

Read Full Article  →

Alcoholic drinks have been around ever since our earliest ancestors found some grains that were accidentally left to ferment and discovered the first happy hour 9,000 years ago. Fast forward to the Egyptians, who started brewing beer, and to the Greeks and Romans, who took wine drinking from casual hobby to high art, with Bacchus and Dionysus as its ancient mascots. More recently, medieval Europeans were brewing beer like their lives depended on it — and sometimes they did. Water was a no-go, so beer was a safer option for daily hydration.

Today, we’re more aware that booze is not all fun and games — we know it can pose serious risks, especially if we overdo it. This health-conscious perspective means that questions about alcohol often come up. How long does it take for alcohol to leave your system? How can you get rid of a hangover headache? How long does alcohol stay in your liver? How much alcohol is in beer? What is the alcohol daily standard? And how can you sober up from alcohol fast? Let’s find out the answers to six frequently asked questions about booze and then look at recovery strategies that can help us get back on track.

1. How Long Does It Take for Alcohol To Leave Your System?

closeup businessman toasting with glass wine

From the moment we take our first sip, our body — which treats alcohol as a poison — starts working hard to remove it from our system. Our liver, at the forefront of processing alcohol, typically processes one standard drink per hour. However, this rate isn’t the same for everyone — it depends on how much we drank, our body size, age, gender, and our most recent meal. As our liver processes the alcohol, it continues impacting our brain function and motor skills. Here’s the rough timeline:

  • One standard drink. One drink usually takes about an hour to process.
  • Feeling the effects. We might start noticing changes within 10 minutes.
  • Peak BAC. Blood Alcohol Concentration typically hits its highest point about 30-90 minutes after drinking.

The Day After: Why We Might Still Feel Off

Why do we wake up feeling less than stellar, even after the alcohol is processed? One reason is that alcohol disrupts our sleep — but there are other reasons as well. While we may have metabolized the alcohol, our body could still be in recovery mode. This includes the dreaded hangover, characterized by headaches, nausea, and dehydration. 

2. How To Get Rid of Hangover Headaches Quickly?

Now, speaking about those hangovers, is there anything we can do about them? Specifically, are there ways to get rid of the notorious hangover headaches

We’ve all been there, waking up with a pounding headache after a night of revelry. Let’s explore the scientific reasons behind them and, more importantly, how to show them the exit door.

The Science of the Hangover Headache

The main reason behind hangover headaches? Dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it makes us lose fluids and contributes to our headache as our brain temporarily shrinks away from the skull (don’t worry, it’s less scary than it sounds!). Plus, alcohol causes blood vessels to expand — a process known as vasodilation — leading to that throbbing sensation. 

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

That said, remember that moderation is key, and knowing our limits can save us from the dreaded next-day pounding in our heads!

3. How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your Liver?

We touched on the way the liver processes alcohol starting from the first sip. But how long does it actually stay there?

The liver is our body's primary filter, especially when it comes to alcohol. On average, it processes one standard drink per hour, but this can vary based on factors like body size and overall health. First, enzymes convert alcohol into acetaldehyde (a toxin), then into acetate, which is less harmful. It's a remarkable two-step process.

System Overload

Drinking more than our liver can handle leads to an acetaldehyde buildup. This accumulation is partly responsible for hangovers — a clear sign from our body that the liver is working overtime. The aftermath of heavy drinking includes dehydration, vitamin depletion, and the lingering presence of toxins.

Consistent heavy drinking can lead to serious liver issues such as fatty liver, inflammation, and cirrhosis. These conditions are more than just temporary setbacks — they can have lasting impacts on health.

4. How Much Alcohol Is in Beer?

As far as alcohol goes, beer is as typical as it gets, but what’s actually in it? We're not just talking about the flavors or hops here but focusing on the alcohol content. 

The ABCs of Beer ABV

The alcohol in beer results from fermentation. Yeast transforms the sugars in the wort (unfermented beer) into alcohol and carbon dioxide. This natural process yields a spectrum of alcoholic strengths in beer. Typically, it ranges from about 3% to 12% alcohol by volume (ABV). This means for every hundred milliliters of beer, there are 3 to 12 milliliters of pure alcohol. 

This variety gives each beer its unique character, from light and breezy to rich and robust. The beer universe is vast — lagers, ales, stouts, IPAs, and more, each with its unique ABV and flavor profile:

  • Light beers. These generally have an ABV of around 3-4%, and they’re the weakest in terms of intoxication potential.
  • Regular Beers. With an ABV of about 4-6%, these are the versatile, everyday choices.
  • Strong Beers. Beers above 6% ABV fall into this category, offering a deeper, more intense experience.

Mindful Beer Consumption

Because beers vary so widely, it’s important to always check the ABV on the beer label before purchasing. Plus, there’s a whole world of lower-alcohol beers to explore! It’s always fun to find new favorites. 

5. How To Sober Up From Alcohol Fast?

Let's face it, we've all been in those unfortunate scenarios, desperately Googling "how to sober up fast" after a night of overindulgence. Spoiler alert: there's no magic bullet, but there are science-backed ways to ease the journey back.

When we consume alcohol, our body goes into overdrive to metabolize it. Alcohol is primarily processed in the liver, but it can only metabolize about one standard drink per hour — there’s no way around it, and no way to speed that process.

The Myth of Quick Fixes

We've all heard the tall tales: "Drink coffee, take a cold shower, or eat a greasy meal, and you'll be sober in no time!" Sadly, these are just myths. These actions might make us feel more alert, but they don't speed up the elimination of alcohol from our system.

6. What Happens When You Stop Drinking?

And finally, we come to what might be the most important question of all: what happens to our bodies when we stop drinking alcohol? Cutting back our intake or eliminating alcohol altogether creates all kinds of positive changes.

​​Beyond the Bottle

Within the first 24 hours of our last drink, our body begins an incredible transformation. Our liver, the diligent detoxifier, starts to repair itself, reducing the risk of liver disease. Our sleep quality improves — not just in quantity but in restorative power, leading to more refreshing mornings.

After a week, our heart starts to reap benefits. Blood pressure drops, and the risk of heart disease diminishes. Our skin also gets a boost, rehydrating for a healthier glow.

Booze-Free Brain

Our brain, the central command, undergoes a recalibration process. Emotions become more vivid without alcohol’s numbing effects. Moreover, our cognitive functions, including memory, begin to sharpen. Daily tasks and information recall become easier, enhancing our overall mental agility.

Understanding Withdrawal

That said, stopping alcohol abruptly can lead to withdrawal symptoms ranging from mild discomfort like headaches and irritability to more significant challenges such as anxiety, insomnia, or mood swings. It's our body's way of readjusting to the absence of alcohol.

While withdrawal can be daunting, it's a pivotal part of the journey. Consider these symptoms signs that our body is healing and readjusting — that can empower us to stay the course!

Authentic Life

That said, once we’re past the initial discomfort, there are many additional benefits to look forward to. For one thing, our social interactions evolve. We find enjoyment in activities that don't center around drinking, allowing us to foster deeper, more authentic relationships.

Our wallets also benefit from this lifestyle change. The savings accrued from not purchasing alcohol can be redirected towards anything from a dream vacation to tech gadgets or a wardrobe update!

Recovery Strategies

Recovery Strategies

Here are some practical steps to help you avoid having a hangover the day after drinking, tips to help your body recover if you do end up with one, and ways to stay on track if you’re trying to cut back:

  1. Hydrate. Keep water handy if you do plan to be drinking. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it sends us on frequent trips to the restroom, leading to dehydration. Drinking water won’t sober us up faster, but it will help alleviate dehydration symptoms like headaches and dry mouth.



    The next day, replenishing electrolytes is just as crucial as hydration. Sip on coconut water or a sports drink, but watch out for high sugar content.

  2. Eat properly. A good meal before drinking and snacks while drinking can slow alcohol absorption. Make sure to eat well the day after, too — nutritious food helps metabolize the alcohol, stabilizes blood sugar levels, and supports liver health. Your body needs nutrients to bounce back! Opt for a healthy, balanced meal — think proteins, carbs, and vitamins. (Greasy pizza might have to wait.) Also, ginger is a natural remedy for upset stomachs, so sip on ginger tea or chew on candied ginger for soothing relief.

  3. Avoid “hair of the dog.” Contrary to popular belief, more alcohol only delays the inevitable and could lead to a habit. It's like pressing snooze on our alarm — it only postpones the moment we have to face the day.

  4. Prioritize sleep. Make sure to get enough rest — quality sleep is key for recovery. Sleep helps your body recover, and a short nap can do wonders. Just don’t snooze all day, or you’ll disrupt your sleep cycle.

  5. Plan alcohol-free days. Incorporate days without alcohol into your routine to give your body a rest and keep yourself from falling into deeply entrenched habits. These days also give your liver a chance to recover.

  6. Get moving. Engage in light physical activity, like walking or stretching, to boost your mood and metabolism — think a leisurely walk in the park, not a marathon. Fresh air is a bonus! Regular exercise also helps your liver process alcohol more efficiently.



    And if you’re trying to cut back, redirect energy into a new exercise regimen — the endorphin boost rivals any happy hour!

  7. Try mindfulness meditation. Stress exacerbates headaches. Try a guided meditation to relax and refocus your mind. Deep breathing exercises can reduce stress and improve mental clarity — both if you’re recovering from a hangover and if you’re trying to cut back.

  8. Explore mocktails. Experiment with crafting non-alcoholic drinks. It’s a fun, hangover-free way to play bartender.

  9. Spend time in nature. Reconnect with the outdoors. Activities like hiking or gardening nourish the soul.

  10. Skill up. If you’re trying to watch your drinking and find yourself bored or frustrated, dive into learning something new. Try a craft, a language, or a sport — it's time to explore uncharted hobbies.

Summing Up

All in all, the questions we ask ourselves about our drinking habits and alcohol in general show how important it is to stay mindful of our patterns and of the role alcohol plays in our lives. What’s right for one person might not be right for another, and it’s ultimately up to us to decide what to do and where we want to go. So let’s approach the questions about alcohol with a sense of curiosity and exploration, so that we choose a path that leads to the healthiest and most joyful version of ourselves.

Alcoholic drinks have been around ever since our earliest ancestors found some grains that were accidentally left to ferment and discovered the first happy hour 9,000 years ago. Fast forward to the Egyptians, who started brewing beer, and to the Greeks and Romans, who took wine drinking from casual hobby to high art, with Bacchus and Dionysus as its ancient mascots. More recently, medieval Europeans were brewing beer like their lives depended on it — and sometimes they did. Water was a no-go, so beer was a safer option for daily hydration.

Today, we’re more aware that booze is not all fun and games — we know it can pose serious risks, especially if we overdo it. This health-conscious perspective means that questions about alcohol often come up. How long does it take for alcohol to leave your system? How can you get rid of a hangover headache? How long does alcohol stay in your liver? How much alcohol is in beer? What is the alcohol daily standard? And how can you sober up from alcohol fast? Let’s find out the answers to six frequently asked questions about booze and then look at recovery strategies that can help us get back on track.

1. How Long Does It Take for Alcohol To Leave Your System?

closeup businessman toasting with glass wine

From the moment we take our first sip, our body — which treats alcohol as a poison — starts working hard to remove it from our system. Our liver, at the forefront of processing alcohol, typically processes one standard drink per hour. However, this rate isn’t the same for everyone — it depends on how much we drank, our body size, age, gender, and our most recent meal. As our liver processes the alcohol, it continues impacting our brain function and motor skills. Here’s the rough timeline:

  • One standard drink. One drink usually takes about an hour to process.
  • Feeling the effects. We might start noticing changes within 10 minutes.
  • Peak BAC. Blood Alcohol Concentration typically hits its highest point about 30-90 minutes after drinking.

The Day After: Why We Might Still Feel Off

Why do we wake up feeling less than stellar, even after the alcohol is processed? One reason is that alcohol disrupts our sleep — but there are other reasons as well. While we may have metabolized the alcohol, our body could still be in recovery mode. This includes the dreaded hangover, characterized by headaches, nausea, and dehydration. 

2. How To Get Rid of Hangover Headaches Quickly?

Now, speaking about those hangovers, is there anything we can do about them? Specifically, are there ways to get rid of the notorious hangover headaches

We’ve all been there, waking up with a pounding headache after a night of revelry. Let’s explore the scientific reasons behind them and, more importantly, how to show them the exit door.

The Science of the Hangover Headache

The main reason behind hangover headaches? Dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it makes us lose fluids and contributes to our headache as our brain temporarily shrinks away from the skull (don’t worry, it’s less scary than it sounds!). Plus, alcohol causes blood vessels to expand — a process known as vasodilation — leading to that throbbing sensation. 

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

That said, remember that moderation is key, and knowing our limits can save us from the dreaded next-day pounding in our heads!

3. How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your Liver?

We touched on the way the liver processes alcohol starting from the first sip. But how long does it actually stay there?

The liver is our body's primary filter, especially when it comes to alcohol. On average, it processes one standard drink per hour, but this can vary based on factors like body size and overall health. First, enzymes convert alcohol into acetaldehyde (a toxin), then into acetate, which is less harmful. It's a remarkable two-step process.

System Overload

Drinking more than our liver can handle leads to an acetaldehyde buildup. This accumulation is partly responsible for hangovers — a clear sign from our body that the liver is working overtime. The aftermath of heavy drinking includes dehydration, vitamin depletion, and the lingering presence of toxins.

Consistent heavy drinking can lead to serious liver issues such as fatty liver, inflammation, and cirrhosis. These conditions are more than just temporary setbacks — they can have lasting impacts on health.

4. How Much Alcohol Is in Beer?

As far as alcohol goes, beer is as typical as it gets, but what’s actually in it? We're not just talking about the flavors or hops here but focusing on the alcohol content. 

The ABCs of Beer ABV

The alcohol in beer results from fermentation. Yeast transforms the sugars in the wort (unfermented beer) into alcohol and carbon dioxide. This natural process yields a spectrum of alcoholic strengths in beer. Typically, it ranges from about 3% to 12% alcohol by volume (ABV). This means for every hundred milliliters of beer, there are 3 to 12 milliliters of pure alcohol. 

This variety gives each beer its unique character, from light and breezy to rich and robust. The beer universe is vast — lagers, ales, stouts, IPAs, and more, each with its unique ABV and flavor profile:

  • Light beers. These generally have an ABV of around 3-4%, and they’re the weakest in terms of intoxication potential.
  • Regular Beers. With an ABV of about 4-6%, these are the versatile, everyday choices.
  • Strong Beers. Beers above 6% ABV fall into this category, offering a deeper, more intense experience.

Mindful Beer Consumption

Because beers vary so widely, it’s important to always check the ABV on the beer label before purchasing. Plus, there’s a whole world of lower-alcohol beers to explore! It’s always fun to find new favorites. 

5. How To Sober Up From Alcohol Fast?

Let's face it, we've all been in those unfortunate scenarios, desperately Googling "how to sober up fast" after a night of overindulgence. Spoiler alert: there's no magic bullet, but there are science-backed ways to ease the journey back.

When we consume alcohol, our body goes into overdrive to metabolize it. Alcohol is primarily processed in the liver, but it can only metabolize about one standard drink per hour — there’s no way around it, and no way to speed that process.

The Myth of Quick Fixes

We've all heard the tall tales: "Drink coffee, take a cold shower, or eat a greasy meal, and you'll be sober in no time!" Sadly, these are just myths. These actions might make us feel more alert, but they don't speed up the elimination of alcohol from our system.

6. What Happens When You Stop Drinking?

And finally, we come to what might be the most important question of all: what happens to our bodies when we stop drinking alcohol? Cutting back our intake or eliminating alcohol altogether creates all kinds of positive changes.

​​Beyond the Bottle

Within the first 24 hours of our last drink, our body begins an incredible transformation. Our liver, the diligent detoxifier, starts to repair itself, reducing the risk of liver disease. Our sleep quality improves — not just in quantity but in restorative power, leading to more refreshing mornings.

After a week, our heart starts to reap benefits. Blood pressure drops, and the risk of heart disease diminishes. Our skin also gets a boost, rehydrating for a healthier glow.

Booze-Free Brain

Our brain, the central command, undergoes a recalibration process. Emotions become more vivid without alcohol’s numbing effects. Moreover, our cognitive functions, including memory, begin to sharpen. Daily tasks and information recall become easier, enhancing our overall mental agility.

Understanding Withdrawal

That said, stopping alcohol abruptly can lead to withdrawal symptoms ranging from mild discomfort like headaches and irritability to more significant challenges such as anxiety, insomnia, or mood swings. It's our body's way of readjusting to the absence of alcohol.

While withdrawal can be daunting, it's a pivotal part of the journey. Consider these symptoms signs that our body is healing and readjusting — that can empower us to stay the course!

Authentic Life

That said, once we’re past the initial discomfort, there are many additional benefits to look forward to. For one thing, our social interactions evolve. We find enjoyment in activities that don't center around drinking, allowing us to foster deeper, more authentic relationships.

Our wallets also benefit from this lifestyle change. The savings accrued from not purchasing alcohol can be redirected towards anything from a dream vacation to tech gadgets or a wardrobe update!

Recovery Strategies

Recovery Strategies

Here are some practical steps to help you avoid having a hangover the day after drinking, tips to help your body recover if you do end up with one, and ways to stay on track if you’re trying to cut back:

  1. Hydrate. Keep water handy if you do plan to be drinking. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it sends us on frequent trips to the restroom, leading to dehydration. Drinking water won’t sober us up faster, but it will help alleviate dehydration symptoms like headaches and dry mouth.



    The next day, replenishing electrolytes is just as crucial as hydration. Sip on coconut water or a sports drink, but watch out for high sugar content.

  2. Eat properly. A good meal before drinking and snacks while drinking can slow alcohol absorption. Make sure to eat well the day after, too — nutritious food helps metabolize the alcohol, stabilizes blood sugar levels, and supports liver health. Your body needs nutrients to bounce back! Opt for a healthy, balanced meal — think proteins, carbs, and vitamins. (Greasy pizza might have to wait.) Also, ginger is a natural remedy for upset stomachs, so sip on ginger tea or chew on candied ginger for soothing relief.

  3. Avoid “hair of the dog.” Contrary to popular belief, more alcohol only delays the inevitable and could lead to a habit. It's like pressing snooze on our alarm — it only postpones the moment we have to face the day.

  4. Prioritize sleep. Make sure to get enough rest — quality sleep is key for recovery. Sleep helps your body recover, and a short nap can do wonders. Just don’t snooze all day, or you’ll disrupt your sleep cycle.

  5. Plan alcohol-free days. Incorporate days without alcohol into your routine to give your body a rest and keep yourself from falling into deeply entrenched habits. These days also give your liver a chance to recover.

  6. Get moving. Engage in light physical activity, like walking or stretching, to boost your mood and metabolism — think a leisurely walk in the park, not a marathon. Fresh air is a bonus! Regular exercise also helps your liver process alcohol more efficiently.



    And if you’re trying to cut back, redirect energy into a new exercise regimen — the endorphin boost rivals any happy hour!

  7. Try mindfulness meditation. Stress exacerbates headaches. Try a guided meditation to relax and refocus your mind. Deep breathing exercises can reduce stress and improve mental clarity — both if you’re recovering from a hangover and if you’re trying to cut back.

  8. Explore mocktails. Experiment with crafting non-alcoholic drinks. It’s a fun, hangover-free way to play bartender.

  9. Spend time in nature. Reconnect with the outdoors. Activities like hiking or gardening nourish the soul.

  10. Skill up. If you’re trying to watch your drinking and find yourself bored or frustrated, dive into learning something new. Try a craft, a language, or a sport — it's time to explore uncharted hobbies.

Summing Up

All in all, the questions we ask ourselves about our drinking habits and alcohol in general show how important it is to stay mindful of our patterns and of the role alcohol plays in our lives. What’s right for one person might not be right for another, and it’s ultimately up to us to decide what to do and where we want to go. So let’s approach the questions about alcohol with a sense of curiosity and exploration, so that we choose a path that leads to the healthiest and most joyful version of ourselves.

Alcohol and Mental Health
2024-02-15 9:00
Alcohol and Mental Health
Drinking Gin: What Are the Risks?
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Explore the complex reputation of gin in our latest blog — learn about the risks and get tips to stay safe!

20 min read

Ready To Change Your Relationship With Alcohol in the New Year? Reframe Can Help!

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 hundreds 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!

Read Full Article  →

Drinking Gin: What Are the Risks?

Gin has a reputation as a tough, gritty drink. In 1984, George Orwell described the fictional “Victory Gin” in colorful terms (it’s fantasy, of course, but still sounds a lot like the real thing): “The Victory Gin was like nitric acid … in swallowing it one had the sensation of being hit on the back of the head with a rubber club. The next moment, however, the burning in his belly died down and the world began to look more cheerful.”

Now, while most gin drinkers probably wouldn’t describe their beverage of choice quite this harshly, real-life gin has a pretty serious dark side. So, what is gin, exactly? Where do the myths about gin’s supposed benefits come from? And what are gin’s disadvantages? Let’s find out more.

What Is Gin?

Gin is a distilled alcoholic drink — a “spirit” along the lines of whiskey, vodka, or rum. Like other spirits, it’s made through a two-step process of fermentation and distillation. Juniper berries used in the second step of gin production give it its unique trademark flavor.

Gin shots with lemons on the table
  1. Fermentation. First, a neutral spirit is created to serve as the base for gin production. This involves fermenting grains such as wheat, barley, or rye. Yeast is added to the grain mash to convert sugars into ethanol (alcohol) and carbon dioxide through the biochemical process of fermentation.

  2. Distillation. After fermentation, the base spirit is heated in a still, usually made of copper. As the mixture heats, alcohol and other compounds vaporize at different temperatures. These vapors ascend through the still and are then cooled, condensing back into liquid form — the process known as distillation.

Infusion With Botanicals During Distillation 

The characteristic gin flavors — the juniper berry and other botanicals, such as coriander, licorice, or angelica root — are added during the distillation process. As American University chemistry professor Matt Hartings explained in Chemistry World, “These all combine to give a piney, woody, peppery, citrusy, woody, spicy and mentholy taste … How flavor molecules interact with your sensory system completely changes based on what they’re present with. Going from one gin to the next, you’re going to get those hints of juniper slightly differently depending on what other botanicals they’re mixed with.“

There are two primary methods of infusion: steeping and vapor infusion. The first is a lot like steeping tea: botanicals are soaked in the spirit for 24 hours to several days. Vapor infusion, on the other hand, happens when the botanicals are placed in a basket over the still, allowing alcohol vapors to pass through and soak in the characteristic flavors along the way.

Guarding the Recipe

Gin manufacturers famously keep their recipes close to the vest, and the exact ratios of botanicals are often a trade secret. A Chemistry World article explores the science of gin distillation and features an interview with Sam Carter, a senior brand ambassador for the Bombay Spirits Company. Carter writes, “Our master botanicalist is the only person that knows the recipe for all of our gins. He gets all the botanicals sent to him in Geneva, he then divides them into the right ratio and sends us the boxes of botanicals ready to load into the infuser basket.”

Varieties of Gin

As a result, different types of gin have distinct flavor profiles. These are some of the big names:

  • London Dry is the “purest” variety, calling for all flavors to be added through distillation (as opposed to after).
  • Plymouth is known for its location in Plymouth, England. In fact, it can’t be produced anywhere else!
  • Old Tom bridges the flavor gap between the juniper-forward London Dry gins and the malty, sweet Genever. Historically, it was sometimes sweetened with sugar or licorice after distillation.
  • Genever is made by distilling malt wine and then infusing it with juniper and other botanicals. It's the original style of gin and remains very popular in the Netherlands and Belgium.
  • New Western is a bit of an outlier. It often de-emphasizes the juniper in favor of other botanicals, leading to a more diverse flavor profile.

The Nutritional Profile of Gin

As for the nutritional components of gin, 1 shot (1.5 fluid ounces) contains about 97 calories. Gin doesn’t contain any sugars, fats, proteins, or other nutrients, and the calories come from the ethanol itself. This is true for most gin varieties, although the situation changes if we’re talking about mixed drinks. In that case, the calorie count can skyrocket. 

Are There Benefits of Gin?

There are many myths around gin, some centering on its supposed benefits. The idea of gin as a health beverage goes way back to the 18th century. That’s when it was first marketed as a health drink and embraced as a cheap alternative to brandy, becoming especially popular in England. 

This marketing quickly exploded, leading to the notorious “gin craze” in England. According to Daniel Defoe, "the Distillers have found out a way to hit the palate of the Poor, by their new fashion'd compound Waters called Geneva, so that the common People seem not to value the French-brandy as usual, and even not to desire it."

According to a Historic UK article, “Mother’s Ruin,” “Much of the gin was drunk by women … children were neglected, daughters were sold into prostitution, and wet nurses gave gin to babies to quieten them … People would do anything to get gin … a cattle drover sold his eleven-year-old daughter to a trader for a gallon of gin, and a coachman pawned his wife for a quart bottle.”

The disarray led to the Gin Acts of 1736 and 1751, with William Hogarth's engraving Gin Lane capturing the spirit of the gin craze. In 1736, Bishop Thomas Wilson argued that gin produced a "drunken ungovernable set of people,” and it took years for the affected communities to regain a sense of normalcy.

Persisting Myths About the “Benefits of Gin”

While the gin craze is deep in the past, many myths about the “benefits of gin” persist to this day, in spite of the fact that they are dubious at best. Let’s explore some of the main ones to answer the question, “Is gin good for health?”

1. “Juniper berries make gin healthy.”

There has been an idea floating around that juniper berries give gin health-boosting benefits. And while juniper berries do indeed have antioxidant properties, those benefits are all but obliterated by the gin production process. So, while the sought-after botanical flavors remain in the mix, the health benefits are pretty much completely lost.

2. “Gin and tonic prevents malaria.”

Another supposed “advantage” of gin is the idea that gin and tonic will prevent malaria. Rest assured this is not the case! The myth comes from the practice of giving gin and tonic to soldiers to make quinine treatment for malaria more palatable.

3. “Gin and tonic is diet-friendly.”

Finally, the idea that gin is a healthier option because it has fewer calories (64 per fluid ounce) might be true to some degree. However, once we add mixers, it becomes a whole different story. Even tonic water — in spite of masquerading as calorie-free seltzer and sounding almost like a health drink — is anything but low-cal. In fact, one can of tonic has about 124 calories, bringing a gin and tonic up to about 140 calories per serving. While that is on the low side, it’s definitely not calorie-free.

Gin Side Effects

Gin Side Effects

With an alcohol content of 80 proof (40% alcohol by volume), gin is one of the stronger drinks out there. The effects of drinking too much gin are similar to those of overdoing any alcoholic beverage.

In the short term, drinking too much alcohol (including gin, which is particularly easy to overdo since its clear appearance and medicinal smell can make it seem like a health tonic) leads to a number of possible problems. Our cognitive abilities take a hit, and we are more likely to say or do something we regret later. We’re more prone to accidents and more likely to wake up with a nasty hangover. And if we really overdo it, we could end up with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and even alcohol poisoning.

In the long term, we’re looking at a number of possible health issues:

  • Liver damage. Excessive alcohol use is a notorious cause of liver damage, and gin is no exception.
  • Heart problems. Alcohol tends to increase heart rate and blood pressure when used excessively, and it can contribute to cardiovascular issues over time.
  • Gastrointestinal issues. Excessive alcohol use messes with our stomach’s beneficial gut bacteria and increases stomach acid production, leading to gastritis and acid reflux.
  • Cognitive decline. Over time, drinking too much can impair our cognitive ability, slow down neurogenesis, and even lead to permanent brain damage.
  • Risk of dependency and withdrawal. As our brains and bodies get used to large amounts of gin, dependency can set in, leading to withdrawal symptoms if we suddenly stop. Dependency can pave the way to possible alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Gin in the Spotlight

Recently, a resurgence in gin’s popularity has brought many new, flavored, “user-friendly” varieties on the market — some of them potentially more problematic because they are targeted largely at the younger crowd. 

A 2018 article in The Guardian discussed berry-infused “pink gin” with British bartender Jack Wakelin, who complained about the sudden commercialization of the drink: “It’s gone bonkers … We get people in all the time asking: ‘What gins do you have?’ It’s an obsession.” The new gins — flavored with “everything from marshmallow root to cocoa” — are edging way too close to liqueur territory for the comfort of purists.

However, there are other concerns regarding “pink gin” and its flavored relatives. The image makeover makes them appear innocuous despite their very high alcohol content, which tends to get masked by the flavors. The problem is similar to one many people have pointed out regarding Smirnoff Ice, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, and the like: all of them look like sugary sodas, but in reality they’re very far from that (except for the sweeteners part, because these drinks do tend to be loaded with them).

Tips for Staying Safe

If you’re trying to watch your alcohol intake (or maybe even quit entirely), congrats! You’re making a great choice, and you’re on your way to being a healthier, happier version of yourself. In the meantime, here are some tips to make the journey a bit easier:

  • Look closely at your current habits. Start by tracking your current habits and deciding what you’d like to change. Approach this step from the perspective of a mindful observer or a scientist gathering data. There’s no judgment!

  • Make a plan. If you want to cut back, decide ahead of time on a drink limit and stick to it. Keep in mind what situations might be difficult and what types of pressures you might face. Maybe even prepare some answers ahead of time if you know you’ll be asked why you’re not drinking (but remember, you never have to explain yourself when it comes to your health and well-being!).

  • Find support. The alcohol journey can feel daunting at times and having people to rely on can make an enormous difference.

  • Plan meaningful activities. Look at this time in your life as a chance to explore things that you haven’t had a chance to experience when alcohol was in the picture. Sign up for a ballroom dancing class, join a rock climbing group, go kayaking, try new recipes, learn to create vector art. There’s so much out there to explore!

  • Ask for help. There’s never any shame in asking for help if you need it! From therapy geared toward alcohol misuse to cognitive behavioral therapy or dialectical behavioral therapy, there’s plenty of help available.

Summing Up

In the end, it’s all about being mindful of our intentions and habits around alcohol. Is gin good for health? No, not really. Is it much worse than other types of alcohol? Not unless we go overboard — a caution that applies to most types of alcohol, especially hard liquors. It helps to approach the process of reexamining our relationship with alcohol with curiosity instead of judgment. After all, there’s so much to discover in the world beyond booze, and we’re here to cheer you on as you continue your journey.

Drinking Gin: What Are the Risks?

Gin has a reputation as a tough, gritty drink. In 1984, George Orwell described the fictional “Victory Gin” in colorful terms (it’s fantasy, of course, but still sounds a lot like the real thing): “The Victory Gin was like nitric acid … in swallowing it one had the sensation of being hit on the back of the head with a rubber club. The next moment, however, the burning in his belly died down and the world began to look more cheerful.”

Now, while most gin drinkers probably wouldn’t describe their beverage of choice quite this harshly, real-life gin has a pretty serious dark side. So, what is gin, exactly? Where do the myths about gin’s supposed benefits come from? And what are gin’s disadvantages? Let’s find out more.

What Is Gin?

Gin is a distilled alcoholic drink — a “spirit” along the lines of whiskey, vodka, or rum. Like other spirits, it’s made through a two-step process of fermentation and distillation. Juniper berries used in the second step of gin production give it its unique trademark flavor.

Gin shots with lemons on the table
  1. Fermentation. First, a neutral spirit is created to serve as the base for gin production. This involves fermenting grains such as wheat, barley, or rye. Yeast is added to the grain mash to convert sugars into ethanol (alcohol) and carbon dioxide through the biochemical process of fermentation.

  2. Distillation. After fermentation, the base spirit is heated in a still, usually made of copper. As the mixture heats, alcohol and other compounds vaporize at different temperatures. These vapors ascend through the still and are then cooled, condensing back into liquid form — the process known as distillation.

Infusion With Botanicals During Distillation 

The characteristic gin flavors — the juniper berry and other botanicals, such as coriander, licorice, or angelica root — are added during the distillation process. As American University chemistry professor Matt Hartings explained in Chemistry World, “These all combine to give a piney, woody, peppery, citrusy, woody, spicy and mentholy taste … How flavor molecules interact with your sensory system completely changes based on what they’re present with. Going from one gin to the next, you’re going to get those hints of juniper slightly differently depending on what other botanicals they’re mixed with.“

There are two primary methods of infusion: steeping and vapor infusion. The first is a lot like steeping tea: botanicals are soaked in the spirit for 24 hours to several days. Vapor infusion, on the other hand, happens when the botanicals are placed in a basket over the still, allowing alcohol vapors to pass through and soak in the characteristic flavors along the way.

Guarding the Recipe

Gin manufacturers famously keep their recipes close to the vest, and the exact ratios of botanicals are often a trade secret. A Chemistry World article explores the science of gin distillation and features an interview with Sam Carter, a senior brand ambassador for the Bombay Spirits Company. Carter writes, “Our master botanicalist is the only person that knows the recipe for all of our gins. He gets all the botanicals sent to him in Geneva, he then divides them into the right ratio and sends us the boxes of botanicals ready to load into the infuser basket.”

Varieties of Gin

As a result, different types of gin have distinct flavor profiles. These are some of the big names:

  • London Dry is the “purest” variety, calling for all flavors to be added through distillation (as opposed to after).
  • Plymouth is known for its location in Plymouth, England. In fact, it can’t be produced anywhere else!
  • Old Tom bridges the flavor gap between the juniper-forward London Dry gins and the malty, sweet Genever. Historically, it was sometimes sweetened with sugar or licorice after distillation.
  • Genever is made by distilling malt wine and then infusing it with juniper and other botanicals. It's the original style of gin and remains very popular in the Netherlands and Belgium.
  • New Western is a bit of an outlier. It often de-emphasizes the juniper in favor of other botanicals, leading to a more diverse flavor profile.

The Nutritional Profile of Gin

As for the nutritional components of gin, 1 shot (1.5 fluid ounces) contains about 97 calories. Gin doesn’t contain any sugars, fats, proteins, or other nutrients, and the calories come from the ethanol itself. This is true for most gin varieties, although the situation changes if we’re talking about mixed drinks. In that case, the calorie count can skyrocket. 

Are There Benefits of Gin?

There are many myths around gin, some centering on its supposed benefits. The idea of gin as a health beverage goes way back to the 18th century. That’s when it was first marketed as a health drink and embraced as a cheap alternative to brandy, becoming especially popular in England. 

This marketing quickly exploded, leading to the notorious “gin craze” in England. According to Daniel Defoe, "the Distillers have found out a way to hit the palate of the Poor, by their new fashion'd compound Waters called Geneva, so that the common People seem not to value the French-brandy as usual, and even not to desire it."

According to a Historic UK article, “Mother’s Ruin,” “Much of the gin was drunk by women … children were neglected, daughters were sold into prostitution, and wet nurses gave gin to babies to quieten them … People would do anything to get gin … a cattle drover sold his eleven-year-old daughter to a trader for a gallon of gin, and a coachman pawned his wife for a quart bottle.”

The disarray led to the Gin Acts of 1736 and 1751, with William Hogarth's engraving Gin Lane capturing the spirit of the gin craze. In 1736, Bishop Thomas Wilson argued that gin produced a "drunken ungovernable set of people,” and it took years for the affected communities to regain a sense of normalcy.

Persisting Myths About the “Benefits of Gin”

While the gin craze is deep in the past, many myths about the “benefits of gin” persist to this day, in spite of the fact that they are dubious at best. Let’s explore some of the main ones to answer the question, “Is gin good for health?”

1. “Juniper berries make gin healthy.”

There has been an idea floating around that juniper berries give gin health-boosting benefits. And while juniper berries do indeed have antioxidant properties, those benefits are all but obliterated by the gin production process. So, while the sought-after botanical flavors remain in the mix, the health benefits are pretty much completely lost.

2. “Gin and tonic prevents malaria.”

Another supposed “advantage” of gin is the idea that gin and tonic will prevent malaria. Rest assured this is not the case! The myth comes from the practice of giving gin and tonic to soldiers to make quinine treatment for malaria more palatable.

3. “Gin and tonic is diet-friendly.”

Finally, the idea that gin is a healthier option because it has fewer calories (64 per fluid ounce) might be true to some degree. However, once we add mixers, it becomes a whole different story. Even tonic water — in spite of masquerading as calorie-free seltzer and sounding almost like a health drink — is anything but low-cal. In fact, one can of tonic has about 124 calories, bringing a gin and tonic up to about 140 calories per serving. While that is on the low side, it’s definitely not calorie-free.

Gin Side Effects

Gin Side Effects

With an alcohol content of 80 proof (40% alcohol by volume), gin is one of the stronger drinks out there. The effects of drinking too much gin are similar to those of overdoing any alcoholic beverage.

In the short term, drinking too much alcohol (including gin, which is particularly easy to overdo since its clear appearance and medicinal smell can make it seem like a health tonic) leads to a number of possible problems. Our cognitive abilities take a hit, and we are more likely to say or do something we regret later. We’re more prone to accidents and more likely to wake up with a nasty hangover. And if we really overdo it, we could end up with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and even alcohol poisoning.

In the long term, we’re looking at a number of possible health issues:

  • Liver damage. Excessive alcohol use is a notorious cause of liver damage, and gin is no exception.
  • Heart problems. Alcohol tends to increase heart rate and blood pressure when used excessively, and it can contribute to cardiovascular issues over time.
  • Gastrointestinal issues. Excessive alcohol use messes with our stomach’s beneficial gut bacteria and increases stomach acid production, leading to gastritis and acid reflux.
  • Cognitive decline. Over time, drinking too much can impair our cognitive ability, slow down neurogenesis, and even lead to permanent brain damage.
  • Risk of dependency and withdrawal. As our brains and bodies get used to large amounts of gin, dependency can set in, leading to withdrawal symptoms if we suddenly stop. Dependency can pave the way to possible alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Gin in the Spotlight

Recently, a resurgence in gin’s popularity has brought many new, flavored, “user-friendly” varieties on the market — some of them potentially more problematic because they are targeted largely at the younger crowd. 

A 2018 article in The Guardian discussed berry-infused “pink gin” with British bartender Jack Wakelin, who complained about the sudden commercialization of the drink: “It’s gone bonkers … We get people in all the time asking: ‘What gins do you have?’ It’s an obsession.” The new gins — flavored with “everything from marshmallow root to cocoa” — are edging way too close to liqueur territory for the comfort of purists.

However, there are other concerns regarding “pink gin” and its flavored relatives. The image makeover makes them appear innocuous despite their very high alcohol content, which tends to get masked by the flavors. The problem is similar to one many people have pointed out regarding Smirnoff Ice, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, and the like: all of them look like sugary sodas, but in reality they’re very far from that (except for the sweeteners part, because these drinks do tend to be loaded with them).

Tips for Staying Safe

If you’re trying to watch your alcohol intake (or maybe even quit entirely), congrats! You’re making a great choice, and you’re on your way to being a healthier, happier version of yourself. In the meantime, here are some tips to make the journey a bit easier:

  • Look closely at your current habits. Start by tracking your current habits and deciding what you’d like to change. Approach this step from the perspective of a mindful observer or a scientist gathering data. There’s no judgment!

  • Make a plan. If you want to cut back, decide ahead of time on a drink limit and stick to it. Keep in mind what situations might be difficult and what types of pressures you might face. Maybe even prepare some answers ahead of time if you know you’ll be asked why you’re not drinking (but remember, you never have to explain yourself when it comes to your health and well-being!).

  • Find support. The alcohol journey can feel daunting at times and having people to rely on can make an enormous difference.

  • Plan meaningful activities. Look at this time in your life as a chance to explore things that you haven’t had a chance to experience when alcohol was in the picture. Sign up for a ballroom dancing class, join a rock climbing group, go kayaking, try new recipes, learn to create vector art. There’s so much out there to explore!

  • Ask for help. There’s never any shame in asking for help if you need it! From therapy geared toward alcohol misuse to cognitive behavioral therapy or dialectical behavioral therapy, there’s plenty of help available.

Summing Up

In the end, it’s all about being mindful of our intentions and habits around alcohol. Is gin good for health? No, not really. Is it much worse than other types of alcohol? Not unless we go overboard — a caution that applies to most types of alcohol, especially hard liquors. It helps to approach the process of reexamining our relationship with alcohol with curiosity instead of judgment. After all, there’s so much to discover in the world beyond booze, and we’re here to cheer you on as you continue your journey.

Alcohol and Mental Health