In Alcohol Awareness Week I wanted to write something which for some people might feel like a statement of the obvious but for others might be something they need to be much more mindful of – alcohol effects your mental health.
For a number of people, the relationship with alcohol is a positive one – as a society we often talk about enjoying alcohol and see advertisements re-enforcing positivity. But for a whole host of people alcohol and the use of alcohol can pose some very real problems.
Alcohol and poor mental health can be a two way street – sometimes people develop an unhealthy relationship with alcohol as a result of bed mental health or an unhealthy relationship with alcohol can lead to bad mental health. On a chemical level regular heavy drinking lowers the amount of serotonin in your brain which is a chemical that helps regulate mood.
We also know that for some people alcohol can have a detrimental affect on the relationships which people have. As an SU we know the real value of building friendships, feeling a sense of belonging and being around others – when alcohol starts to get in the way of this happening it can be really hard to know what to do.
A really common feeling that a lot of people experience but barely talk about is ‘hangxiety’ when a hangover gives you anxiety about the night before, especially if your memory is a bit blurred and you’re worried you’ve embarrassed yourself or fallen out with one of your friends. It’s something that can last days and have really affect your wellbeing, especially at university. By being careful about how much you drink on a night out allows you to enjoy the following day without a hangover and the mental affects it can have.
Many people will know uea(su) is a member of the NUS Alcohol Impact project that aims to challenge societal norms around drinking and support students to develop a positive relationship with alcohol.
Hopefully if you’ve read this blog and thought about a friend you’ll be able to come along to some of the other things we’re doing this Alcohol Awareness Week (LINK) and find out more about how you can start to change their relationship with alcohol.
Don’t forget, there’s loads of support here at UEA and beyond via Student Services (LINK), the Matthew Project (https://www.matthewproject.org/) or your GP. If you need help, the sooner you ask for it the better.