Alcohol is a substance that is highly accepted in society. In fact, it’s so accepted that it continues to be used by millions of people around the world despite the many dangers that it presents. Alcohol has played a role in car accidents, caused alcohol poisoning, and has contributed to a person’s participation in crime and suicide. However, alcohol also has many health risks, including severely affecting the liver if consumed on a regular basis.
Recent research also shows that there may be a relationship between alcohol and the presence of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). This is an illness in which a person cannot relieve symptoms of fatigue and tiredness through resting. Essentially, a person feels tired all the time and has little energy to complete his or her responsibilities in life. CFS can get in the way of work, supporting one’s family, and having a social life. Symptoms include:
- Extreme and chronic tiredness
- Muscle pains
- Extreme fatigue after putting out large amounts of energy, such as in exercise.
- Joint pain
- Sensitivity to light
- Flu-like symptoms
- Problems with short term memory
- Sensitivity to noise
- Feeling of fatigue that is different than generally feeling tired
Although there is no strong evidence that shows consuming alcohol can contribute to the development of CFS, alcohol can certainly make the condition worse. Alcohol is a depressant, meaning that it will slow down the functioning of the body and mind. This, at first, might make it seem that alcohol can help a person with CFS feel better. And there’s no question that some people with CFS might turn to alcohol as a means to take away their physical and emotional pain. However, regardless of whether a person has an illness, continued use of a substance as a means to cope with life can lead to psychological and physical dependence. And the danger of dependence upon a substance is the possibility of addiction. Furthermore, there have been studies that show that those with CFS should avoid the use of alcohol altogether.
If you struggle with CFS and you have found yourself reaching for alcohol as a means to feel better, gather a team of professionals to support you. Contact your doctor and let him or her know what you’re going through. Call a mental health provider to see what you can do to avoid alcohol dependence and addiction. And lastly join a support group of those who also have CFS. Spending time with others with the same illness might curb those feelings of being alone with an illness, which might otherwise add to the need to drink.
However, if you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol abuse, whether you have an illness such as CFS or not, contact a mental health provider for support. Doing so may help you break free from the need to drink alcohol and find greater inner resources to face the illness of CFS.
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