So, I guess the question is, does alcohol influence mental health? The basic and most direct answer is yes. But, as most things in life its not just a simple as that. Let’s face it a night out with friends, good conversation and a few drinks can be an enjoyable experience. Some may say including a bit of dancing (but that wouldn’t be me) could be included. So that’s a positive impact on feelings and emotions so it’s not all bad. However, like most things in life its excess or even how we drink alcohol that makes the difference. If we go out with friends’ alcohol can be part of an enjoyable experience. If we drink at home, it can become a different relationship with alcohol as we are drinking because we want to drink alcohol!
Alcohol affects the brain in many ways not least as a depressant, the more alcohol consumed the more depression can become an issue. The thing is with depression the opposite is also true, so the more depression is an issue the increased likelihood alcohol becomes a problem, and the cycle continues. Alcohol is often used as a coping mechanism for people believing it will help deal with or numb the brain enough to get through to another day. But as we all know and understand the key issues or problems will always be there and the magic potion of alcohol is only temporary, but it still doesn’t stop us trying.
Alcohol also has a massive impact on social issues such as violent crime and domestic abuse, vicariously impacting on the mental health of victims. So, if we go back to the original question “does alcohol influence mental health?” Alcohol and mental health are, for good or bad inexplicably mixed, we use alcohol to celebrate and to commiserate to numb the pain or relax and destress. From a government perspective there is a cost to health, society and business due to excessive consumption, but its is also a great revenue contributor (alcohol duty, VAT, tax and NI contributions) For me I believe it’s about time that as a nation we have a grown-up conversation about alcohol, every aspect from health, crime, social issues, taxation including the role of Government and Public Heath within this minefield.