Many people struggle with drinking out of boredom, and even if they don’t particularly like alcohol or its effects. Studies have shown that easily bored people are at higher risk of anxiety, depression, drug addiction, alcohol misuse, anger, and a number of other issues. Boredom can unexpectedly become a cue for sensation-seeking behavior. The current pandemic has highlighted how boredom can trigger the misuse of substances, particularly alcohol. In fact, alcohol sales outside of bars and restaurants surged 24% shortly after stay-at-home orders began.
Drinking to combat boredom can be problematic, but you can prevent long-term consequences if you identify it early. Many people use alcoholic beverages to enhance experiences. Drinking at concerts, sporting events, and dinner can, as one casual drinker put it, transform a situation into a moment. The problem is that overindulgence or even regular drinking is known to cause a number of health issues. Alcohol is one of the leading causes of preventable death in the United States. It’s responsible for more than 95,000 deaths annually.
Why is Boredom Problematic?
According to Medical News Today, the average adult in the United States experiences around 131 days of boredom per year. How we react to the state of boredom is critical to our ongoing mental health, experts state.
While boredom is to be expected and is nothing unusual, some individuals equate boredom with lack of productivity and negative connotations. In response, some people seek outlets that are detrimental to their well-being. Drinking out of boredom is common, especially among those suffering from other mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.
Boredom can be Destructive
One source of unhappiness is, unsurprisingly, boredom. Sitting in traffic, for instance, is one of those things that most people would rather forego. Other tasks like laundry and cleaning the house can cause boredom and be a source of anxiety.
Boredom can be destructive. However, because it’s so common, we can fail to recognize the importance of addressing it. Boredom can cascade into serious issues like battling loneliness, uncovering deeply seeded shame and self-loathing, and even feelings of high stress can become prevalent. Drinking out of boredom is how some choose to deal with the dull moments life throws at us.
Learning healthy coping skills, unfortunately, is not as intuitive as it might seem. Dealing with monotony and underlying mental health issues typically requires self-awareness and outside assistance through various forms of therapy addressing underlying conditions.
Problems Caused by Drinking Out of Boredom
Self-medicating can drastically impact overall health and well-being. It’s also a common reason many become dependent on substances. Not only this, self-medicating can lead to and exacerbate mental health conditions leading to a dual diagnosis condition.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says that alcohol and other substances can worsen anxiety symptoms. About 20% of Americans with an anxiety or mood disorder such as depression have an alcohol or other substance use disorder.
While it doesn’t automatically indicate alcohol use disorder drinking out of boredom can expose users to the extensive list of short- and long-term health effects due to ongoing alcohol use.
When referring to alcohol addiction, some may conjure up an image of a person consuming multiple daily bottles of low-end vodka and struggling to hold a steady job. Alcohol use disorder impacts millions across the nation, many of which are considered high-functioning. In other words, everyday working Americans.
The condition is so common that around 30% of the U.S. adult population reported a problem with drinking. What types of scenarios create an environment where alcohol use is a regular activity?
Experts with the National Library of Medicine examined motives to explain why so many choose drinking as a favorite pastime. Within the reports, two broad categories developed to include:
- Drinking for negative reinforcement to cope, such as using alcohol to escape, avoid, or regulate unpleasant emotions.
- Drinking for positive reinforcement to celebrate, be social, or have a good time.
Drinking out of boredom can reinforce negative feelings and self-medicate.
Various factors lead individuals to abuse alcohol, including genetic traits, environmental reasons, and societal factors. Still, alcohol is a highly addictive substance that can lead to dependency, especially when consuming frequently and in large quantities. Drinking out of boredom may indicate a deeper issue at hand.
Healthy Hobbies to Replace Drinking
This might seem like a strange place to start but it’s key to any alcohol-free period. Book a physical challenge beyond your current abilities. If you can just manage a jog around the block, perhaps start with a 5k competition. A physical target such as this will provide:
- Focus – To drive your exercise routines
- Exercise – To make your body and mind strong
- Confidence – That you are capable of more than you ever imagined
- Activity – That will fill some of the time you get back from not drinking
It sounds over the top, but we know, when it comes to going alcohol-free winging it simply does not work. You have to plan like an athlete and expect the unexpected.
There will always be a long lost friend who arrives on your doorstep looking to catch up over a few drinks. Be ready for these moments when they arrive, and they will, give yourself a wry smile, then make the choice that fits with your goals.
Also know what you are going to drink and select from alcohol alternatives. Bars are more frequently providing alcohol-free beverages to help encourage safe drinking habits and reduce risks of accidents caused by driving while intoxicated. Always have a backup soft drink just in case you reach the bar and they are out of stock.
An estimated 15 million people throughout the U.S. struggle with alcohol use disorder, but only 10% receive treatment. Alcoholism profoundly affects the entire body, especially the brain, heart, pancreas, mouth, liver, and the immune system. Despite its negative impacts, more Americans than ever consume alcohol regularly, especially women and minorities.
Some drink for pleasure or at social events, while others find themselves drinking for no reason at all.. Regardless of the intent, there are significant health implications that arguably make alcohol the most dangerous substance on the market. And it’s totally legal.
Seeking treatment is never an easy step to take. The decision is often met with doubt, questioning if sobriety is attainable. It can also spark feelings of shame, guilt, and resentment. However, the variety of treatment options make it easier for individuals and families to focus on moderate consumption or complete abstinence.
Alcohol Addiction Rehab Programs
Alcohol addiction rehab programs should address substance use as well as any underlying co-occurring mental health disorders. The most effective treatment provides access to ongoing therapy, skills training, group or peer support, relapse avoidance techniques, and prescribed medications, if necessary. Taking a personalized approach allows many families and individuals the chance to adjust treatment to best suit lifestyle, needs, and long-term goals.
The most successful programs also consider the correlation between rates of alcohol abuse, quantities consumed, and over what period, in addition to the frequency of consumption, as well as dual diagnosis conditions.
Are you drinking out of boredom? Has drinking started to interfere with everyday activities, and is it negatively impacting relationships? AspenRidge Recovery designed a quiz to help provide a self-assessment when examining your relationship with alcohol.
AspenRidge REACH Recovery
While alcohol abuse is common, it doesn’t mean you have to face it alone. Downplaying the seriousness of alcohol misuse and addiction can have impactful ramifications. In fact, alcohol is connected to over 60 different cancers and diseases. Even when consumed in smaller quantities, alcohol can have short- and long-term effects.
Finding resources for ongoing drinking issues, even when simply drinking out of boredom, can make a world of difference. Catching signs of abuse early also minimizes the risks of adverse health effects and increases the probability of achieving sobriety much more quickly.
Discuss options with leading Colorado alcohol addiction treatment center through AspenRidge Recovery and our online treatment with AspenRidge REACH. All of our programs are tailored to meet our clients’ needs and provide treatment that sets people up for success for long-term sobriety.
The Joint Commission also certifies our center, and our licensed counselors are trained, specifically, in substance misuse and addiction. We offer a few online alcohol treatment options, which include:
We take a step-down approach that helps our clients move from in-house transitional programs to outpatient care. We also provide ongoing family support services and can help address co-occurring disorders.
Contact us today at 720-650-8055 to learn more about our alcohol use disorder treatment options and address alcohol misuse.