Alcohol reduces stress. Anyone who’s ever had a drink or two can tell you that. There is, after all, a reason why it features so prominently in social gatherings — because we’re all at heart a bit fearful of being awkward, so we turn to alcohol to take the pressure away.
But that doesn’t mean you should use alcohol to relieve your social stress. And there are two main reasons why you shouldn’t, why alcohol, while it can certainly relieve your stress in the moment, can increase your stress over the longterm.
First, if you indulge in a drink or two, you may be ok. When you feel “buzzed” you usually remain primarily in control of your thoughts, and you’re not as prone to saying and doing things you’ll later regret as when you get drunk. But if you drink to the point of getting drunk, you’re almost certain to regret your behaviour later. You can even cause irreparable harm to relationships and how others perceive you, thereby increasing your social stress in the longterm rather than decreasing it.
The other problem is that by using alcohol as a crutch, you become dependent on it to relieve your social stress rather than finding healthy ways of dealing with it, hopefully ways that help you address and permanently overcome your insecurities. Anytime you end up needing something to get by, you give away control of your life in some part to it. And the more you drink, the more your body builds a tolerance to alcohol so that you need more of it to get the same stress-reducing effect. You end up needing to get drunk to relieve your social stress, and like we just said, once you’re drunk you give up most of the control you have over your mouth, your body and your life.
So while alcohol in moderation can certainly alleviate your social stress, the longterm consequences make it one of the worst methods you could choose to deal with your stress. Better to lay off the booze and figure out what’s really causing you to feel stressed out.