Why people with anxiety self-treat with alcohol – and how to overcome it

Why people with anxiety self-treat with alcohol – and how to overcome it

Alcohol preferentially shuts down the executive functioning, higher-order “frontal lobe” part of the brain that is responsible for generating worry and anxiety. That is why people struggling with anxiety have higher potential to abuse alcohol, which quiets down that part of the brain. The downside however is that once the effects of alcohol wear off, there is a “rebound effect.” The body compensates for the effects of alcohol by reducing its own production of “calming” molecules (in this case, the neurotransmitter GABA) and when the alcohol leaves the body, the brain is left with lower levels of GABA and the anxiety gets worse than before. That is why the best long-term solution to anxiety is to increase our body’s own production of GABA. This requires a multi-strategy approach.

  1. Stop the alcohol. If the body sees that alcohol is already doing its job of quieting parts of the brain, it shuts down production of its own calming molecules.
  2. Good sleep. Sleep is the body cleaning the brain. Removal of toxic metabolites and replenishment with fresh nutrients is essential to production of balanced levels of hormones and healthy brain wiring. Alcohol notoriously disrupts the quality of sleep and prevents this deep cleaning throughout the night. Even though it may seem like alcohol helps induce sleep, studies show it actually prevents you from reaching the deepest most replenishing phases of sleep. Studies show 99% of people need 7-9 hours per night for optimal functioning. Below are some evidence-based tips to help induce deeper levels of sleep. For more info on sleep, check out the book “Why We Sleep”
  • Turn off all lights. Sleep in total darkness. If there is any light hitting the skin, this actually stimulates release of cortisol – a stress hormone that inhibits our sleep.
  • No screens 2 hours before bed. At least use night-mode, which filters out the blue light that inhibits release of melatonin – our natural sleep-inducing hormone.
  • No caffeine after 12pm. Caffeine stays in our bodies for over 8 hours. Despite how much you feel it effects you while awake, it does effect your sleep quality.
    • Rather than coffee, try swapping out for Matcha – Zenergy shots, a potent green tea that improves energy and focus without the jitters.

For extra help:

  • Try herb ashwaghanda – available in Tulsi Sleep tea (most health food stores). This has been used for generations in Ayurvedic medicine (ancient Indian practice) for anxiety and sleep. It increases release of GABA.
  • Try 1-2 mg melatonin 20 minutes before bed. All other sleep aid “medicines” are shown to inhibit the deeper reparative sleep stages.
  1. Healthy diet. You are what you eat, and research now also links a huge influence of the gut microbiome (the bacterial species that live in your gut) to anxiety, depression, and a host of other common diseases. The best way to control your gut microbiome is to feed the “good bacteria” with a whole food plant-based diet. An easy way to boost antioxidants to help is with Immunity Elixir Shots.
  2. Increase the blood flow to the brain, which provides fresh nutrients and building blocks. The increased circulation also pumps out toxic metabolites. It also stimulates production of natural endorphins and boosts levels of BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor – a neurotransmitter that promotes healthy brain growth). Beets help improve endurance and blood flow, which is why Endurance Elixir Shots were created.
  3. Meditation and yoga. This is the best long-term treatment because it literally rewires the brain to be less anxious and more calm and mindful, leading to decreased depression and anxiety and increased vibrance, connectedness, and improved quality of life.


The statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Results vary and are not guaranteed.


Back to blog