How Insomnia May Play a Role in Alcoholism

Posted by | Alcohol and Drug Use, Co-Occurring Disorders & Mental Health, Treatment Programs, Wellness | April 10, 2015

If you go to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings or any other support groups having to do with addiction, you might hear the problem of insomnia. At one such meeting, a gentleman shared his story of how insomnia led him to drink year after year until alcoholism almost killed him.

He expressed that his insomnia started when he was about 15 years old. It only got worse when his mother died at 17 years old. He didn’t know how to cope with the loss. At night, he was able to initially fall asleep but then he would walk up in a sudden panic. He explained that when he woke up in these moments it was frightening. And to make matters worse, everyone else was sleeping. It felt like there was no one he could turn to. Although he probably could have woken up his father, because everyone in the entire neighborhood was sleeping, he felt stuck in his aloneness.

He explained that it was in these intense moments that he would reach for the alcohol. He would take a few sips of vodka or rum or whiskey and everything seemed to be fine again. In fact, for him, alcohol seemed like the only thing that was going to save him. He drank night after night, year after year. Alcohol, he said, was the perfect medicine. Even when his friends warned him about drinking so much and that it could be a great danger to his health, he responded inwardly that none of his friends know what it’s like at night, alone, suffering from panic and anxiety.

It wasn’t until he was experiencing severe health concerns that he finally went to the doctor. He explained to the doctor that he couldn’t sleep at night and that it had been happening for many years. He explained that his panic and anxiety were getting worse to the point where he thought he was beginning to hear voices. He also told the doctor that he wanted to live but that he wasn’t sure how if he couldn’t drink.

This is a severe story of alcoholism. In this case, there were several factors that played a role, including unresolved grief, panic attacks, anxiety, and loneliness. Of course, early in his life, he learned that alcohol was the answer. He learned that by drinking all his emotional stress would disappear. In fact, what changed this gentleman’s life was a very simple answer – sleep medication. His doctor also prescribed him with medication for anxiety so that he could live a balanced emotional life.

Today, you’ll hear this gentleman talk about how grateful he is for his life. He is grateful for his doctor, the medication he’s taking, and his new lifestyle. He is able to sleep at night, stay awake during the day so that he can attend classes and live a fulfilling life.

If insomnia is a factor in your life, you should know that there are many ways to facilitate getting sleep at night. This could include medication, a sleep regimen, a change in your diet, as well as medication for anxiety or depression. Furthermore, there are many lifestyle changes that can be made to further facilitate getting some sleep.

If you’re having a hard time falling asleep and it’s contributing to your drinking or drug use, contact a mental health professional. You might contact a doctor who can also facilitate your well being.

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