Emotional Effects of Alcohol Abuse

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Alcohol abuse can cause physical, mental and emotional problems for alcohol abusers, and those who love them. The emotional effects of alcoholism can be so severe that they lead to broken homes, lost jobs and the inability to function. Let’s take a look at some of the most common emotional effects of alcohol abuse, and the impact they can have on abusers and their families.


Depression makes a person feel hopeless, helpless, and physically weak. Alcohol is a depressant, which can exacerbate those symptoms, and lead to persistent sadness in the user. If a person suffers from severe depression brought on by alcohol abuse it can lead to self- hatred or even suicide in extreme cases.

Psychological Disorders

The abuse of alcohol can trigger a number of anxiety disorders such as excessive worry, paranoia, extreme nervousness, and panic attacks. People who abuse alcohol often feel overwhelmed by these symptoms. As a result, they drink more, which gives them a temporary feeling of calmness and a sense of regaining control. This behavior is known as self- medicating. Self-medicating with alcohol usually leads to an increase in alcohol consumption, and added symptoms of anxiety and nervousness.

Erratic Mood Swings
Excessive alcohol use can cause changes in personality. The alcohol abuser may laugh inappropriately or cry uncontrollably. Physical, verbal or emotional abuse of others may occur. The drinker may become hysterical or uncontrollably angry without provocation.

Inability to Deal with Feelings

Alcohol can mask feelings. People who abuse alcohol are often hiding from problems that are occurring in their lives. Alcohol, when used in excess, can numb the senses, and give the user an unrealistic sense of security or well-being. The shy alcohol abuser often loses inhibitions and exhibits behaviors he wouldn’t normally engage in such as singing, dancing, flirting inappropriately and loudly expressing opinions. Prolonged abuse of alcohol can lead to inability to manage emotions without it.

Disruption of Family Life

The alcohol abuser is not the only one who suffers the consequences of the habit. Families have to cope with feelings of anger, frustration and fear when dealing with loved ones who abuse alcohol. Children live in fear of the next uproar, and spouses feel angry, insecure and frustrated. Family members often become the victims of the drinker’s emotional or even physical abuse. Many times, the end result of the drinker’s irresponsibility and inability to function results in divorce and dissolution of the family. When this occurs, the alcoholic must live with incredible guilt and remorse, which leads to increased alcohol abuse.

It’s never too late to seek help. If you or someone you love is an alcohol abuser, contact your medical professional for advice.

Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "Emotional Effects of Alcohol Abuse," in PsychologyDictionary.org, January 9, 2016, https://psychologydictionary.org/emotional-effects-of-alcohol-abuse/ (accessed August 9, 2022).