In the new year, you decided to give up alcohol. It was for the betterment of your health and well-being, but you didn’t even make it one day before you heard alcohol calling out to you. The draw of alcohol was more than you could resist, so you poured yourself a glass of your favorite wine. However, a few hours later, you felt intense guilt for breaking your promise to yourself. You decided that perhaps you should look for help in your endeavor, but because it was nighttime, everywhere you looked was closed. By morning, you had changed your mind about seeking treatment.
In 2020, 8.7% of adults in Kentucky were diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder. At SUN Behavioral Health Kentucky, we understand that feelings of guilt may come when it is least convenient to do anything about them. Our 24/7 crisis care allows you to access assistance whenever your feelings get too intense and when you’re ready to seek support.
Feelings of guilt can be challenging to navigate independently, and we want to help you make that process easier. Today, we are going to discuss why you might be feeling guilty after drinking alcohol and what you can do to change it.
Guilt often reflects feelings that you have fallen short of moral standards placed on you by your moral compass or societal pressures. For example, after you drank in the kitchen, you glanced around the corner and glimpsed your spouse playing with the kids before bed. You had always wanted to be a part of your family’s life, but instead, you have isolated yourself to fill the urges you feel to drink alcohol. Or perhaps you drank more than you intended one night, and your impulsive actions made you feel negatively about your life choices.
Navigating these emotions can be complicated, but you don’t have to take them on alone. Discussing these feelings with a trusted and understanding person and being willing to make a change, whatever that looks like for you, can help relieve your guilt. Also, learning to forgive yourself can help. While you can’t change what has happened, you can improve yourself.
Several reasons exist when it comes to why you might feel guilty after drinking, and not everyone will experience the exact reasons why they feel guilty for drinking alcohol. However, often, these reasons are tied to drinking alcohol. For example, you might feel guilty about the idea if your family found out you were drinking, or perhaps after a night of binge drinking before a big job presentation makes you feel guilty about the impact of those implications. Maybe your doctor had a conversation with you about lowering your alcohol intake earlier in the day, but you found yourself staring at the bottom of your 3rd bottle of beer later that night.
It is also possible that you feel guilty about drinking if you promised yourself or a loved one that you would stop drinking. If you drink alcohol after this promise, you might feel guilty that you broke this promise. Perhaps you think your loved ones will be upset with you because you weren’t able to stop yourself from drinking alcohol. It is not your fault; your loved ones will still love you.
Heavy, prolonged drinking can also result in dopamine dysregulation. When you are low on serotonin, it can make you more likely to have feelings of guilt. Also, mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression can result from this dopamine dysregulation. Since anxiety and depression can include feelings of guilt, having feelings of guilt after drinking could be an indicator of a mental health concern.
Hangxiety does not occur for everyone, and it is a combination of the words “hangover” and “anxiety.” It often occurs after drinking during a hangover. It may come with feelings of regret, guilt, or shame and physical symptoms of headache, nausea, and fatigue. A hangover typically occurs when you drink more alcohol than your body can handle. Meanwhile, anxiety can come in different forms. For example, your anxiety and guilt following drinking could come from an anxiety disorder such as generalized anxiety disorder.
Everyone is different, which means the reasons for experiencing hangxiety also differ. Some people might experience hangxiety because they have an anxiety disorder. Having an anxiety disorder alongside drinking alcohol may result in worsening symptoms of anxiety during a hangover. Other people experience anxiety if they do not stay hydrated while drinking or drink alcohol on an empty stomach. Not drinking enough water or drinking alcohol on an empty stomach can lead to symptoms of anxiety and a hangover to intensify. Any of these reasons may lead to someone feeling guilty during a hangover.
The best way to minimize guilt and anxiety while drinking is not to drink. However, there are a few ways to reduce the amount of anxiety you might experience while drinking. One of those ways is limiting yourself to only 1 drink an hour and limiting how much you will drink throughout the night. Having someone who can keep you accountable when it comes to that limit is also essential. You also want to make sure you aren’t drinking on an empty stomach and drink as much water as you are alcohol.
One of the most prominent signs of an alcohol use disorder is having a difficult time stopping your alcohol use once you get started. When you have stopped drinking alcohol, you might discover you drank more alcohol than you had intended to drink, which can result in feelings of guilt afterward. Here are a few of the other signs of an alcohol use disorder that might result in feelings of guilt:
When it comes to feelings of guilt combined with an alcohol use disorder, it can feel debilitating. You may feel like you are stuck in an endless cycle of cravings for alcohol followed by guilt after you have drank alcohol, followed by a decision to stop, followed by cravings for alcohol. The good news is that help and recovery are both possible. While seeking help might seem like a weakness, it is the most vital thing you can do. Getting help means you are willing to step towards a more solid foundation and a healthier life.
When it comes to alcohol use disorder treatment, alcohol detox is often the first step. During this step, medical professionals will safely assist you as you stop your alcohol use and undergo symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, which can include headaches, cravings, and nausea. Professionals will be able to help you manage your symptoms, learn new skills that can allow you to manage any lingering symptoms, and create a strong foundation for your recovery journey.
SUN Behavioral Health works to solve unmet needs in Erlanger, KY. We provide our care assessments at no cost. You can interact with a representative to determine the best care plan for your needs. To get started on your alcohol use disorder recovery or for more information, call us at 859-429-5188 today.
Feelings of guilt can vary from person to person, as there is no timeline for how long someone might experience guilt after drinking. This guilt can last a few hours to a few weeks or months.
Discussing your feelings with trusted individuals can help make you feel better when it comes to your grief. You can also make sure you drink plenty of water and limit your alcohol use to only 1 drink an hour. Ultimately, the best way to beat guilt after drinking is to stop your alcohol use. Getting treatment can make this process easier.