Why am I always in hyper-focus? I drink to relax and slow down. Why?

by Linda

I drink regularly, 3 maybe 4 times a week. I buy a six pack and drink 4-6. More often than not, I drink alone, because I enjoy the downtime drinking provides. I am free to be in the moment, relaxing. When drinking, I enter a world where responsibilities and self-expectations ebb away, and I can relish in “this” moment. My mind relaxes…I slow down. My brain, my body – everything about me slows down. I become free to enjoy this moment…this time. For this moment I am free to relax! And how good it feels!

Why? I don’t know. But this is the only time I rest.


Those are several good questions. It seems like you are really paying attention to your drinking and how you think and feel. Something is making you question your drinking, and you have figured out some connections to how it makes you think and feel. That’s a great place to start.

What connections you have made seem to center around how drinking makes you feel. When you drink, you suddenly are relaxed and the world seems to fade away. The busy and worried mind that it sounds like you normally have, suddenly slows down, and you can finally catch your breath, and settle down.

Life is very busy and comes with a lot of responsibilities and stress. When a person’s mind gets busy and under pressure, it naturally wants to look for a way out. The mind automatically seeks relief and tries to get back into balance. That is just human nature and basic biology. So for you, this seems like the mind doing what it does, seeking a way to find relief from the pressure of life.

For some people, however, it goes beyond just trying to find relief from stress and pressure of a job, or relationships, or bills. One of the strongest correlations with high alcohol consumption is with anxiety disorders and other forms of mental illnesses like them, for example, like ADHD.

Anxiety disorders often make the mind work fast. They make the person feel stressed, worried, or hyper-focused on certain things that only cause distress. At times they may not be able to think of anything else, or even in good times, they may have a hard time thinking or remembering things clearly. A person with an anxiety disorder will struggle to sleep, and will feel the effects of stress on their body; chest pains, digestive problems, and other issues are common.

Now, this may not be you, but this could be a good time to educate you and other readers about the struggles of anxiety disorders and how they often lead to addiction and alcohol abuse. If you or someone reading this experiences symptoms like stress, worry, constant thoughts about painful things, having sleepless nights, and chest pains that make you wonder if you are having a heart attack, wouldn’t you try anything to seek some relief from that? That is one of the main reasons that people turn to alcohol and drugs; they are trying to find relief from pain or stress or an untreated mental illness.

What unfortunately happens here, is that the person starts drinking or using as a means to cope. This works really well in the beginning, but as time goes on, it doesn’t work as well, as the body develops a tolerance for the substance. Soon, the person will have to drink or use more and more to try to find the same level of relief from the disorder that they used to get. Without thinking about the end result, the person with an anxiety disorder will then have an addiction to face as well.

From your description, it’s obviously not clear if you are struggling with an anxiety disorder or not. There would need to be a lot more information for that. I do encourage you to start talking with a counselor, and maybe if you are up to it, one that specializes in addiction treatment as well. While it does not seem like you are addicted to alcohol, it also looks like you are questioning your drinking and why, and that’s why talking with someone who specializes in this may be most helpful for your specific circumstance.

What you said was that you are seeking relief from stress, and drinking is doing that for you right now. It works. It does not have to be the only thing that works. There are many forms of treatment that can help you relax and disconnect from the world without drugs or alcohol, and no danger of addiction.

Stress can at times be just as deadly as addiction. It’s clear you are struggling with things going on in your mind and the stress that comes from life. Take the time to sort that out. Alcohol may work well for right now, but in a while, it won’t be enough, and the drinking will increase. You can change this now before it gets to that level. You have a wonderful opportunity now to change how you are acting and get healthy before addiction sets in. Take that chance.

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