Does Drinking Reduce Stress?
By Michael A. Sayette, Ph.D.
For centuries, people have used alcohol to relieve stress-that is, the interpretation of an event as signaling harm, loss, or threat. The person usually responds to stress with a variety of behavioral, biological, and cognitive changes. Alcohol consumption can result in a stress response dampening (SRD) effect, which can be assessed using various measures.
Numerous individual differences and situational factors help determine the extent to which a person experiences SRD after consuming alcohol.
Individual differences include
- a family history of alcoholism,
- personality traits,
- extent of self-consciousness,
- cognitive functioning, and
- Situational factors influencing alcohol’s SRD effect include
- distractions during a stressful situation and
- the timing of drinking and stress.
The attention-allocation model and the appraisal disruption model have been advanced to explain the influence of those situational factors.
Alcohol Research & Health, Vol. 23, No. 4, 1999