To Drink or Not to Drink, That ‘Tis the Question

As adults, most of us get used to indulging in alcohol from time to time, some of us more or less than others. For most, the occasional glass of wine with dinner, weekend beer with friends, or drinks while out on the town isn’t a big deal. Though is it okay if you suffer from chronic pain? Does it make it worse? Should chronic pain warriors drink alcohol at all or completely abstain? An important thing to note is that alcohol shouldn’t be used to manage chronic pain. Even if the short term effects relieve your symptoms, there has been a ton of research done showing that long-term there are a lot of negative effects (which isn’t surprising, because, well, it’s alcohol).

Caesar with brunch at pride. It’s healthy if it has vegetables right?!

The first thing you should ask yourself is, does my medication say no alcohol? if it does, a good rule of thumb is to stay away. I take one pill that isn’t supposed to be mixed with alcohol. What I’ve personally found is that as long as I don’t take it within an hour or two of drinking, it doesn’t bother me. The only thing it does do (if taken close to alcohol consumption) is make the alcohol more potent. However, some medications can have more serious side effects when mixed with alcohol. Consult your doctor or pharmacist if you’re not sure and want to be able to have a few drinks.

Check your medication before consuming alcohol t make sure it’s okay.

I did a post about sleep and pain. Unfortunately, alcohol can also make sleep worse, and therefore pain worse. If you’re typically having trouble sleeping, it might be best to stay away from an overindulgence in alcohol (one drink is likely fine, but it may depend on you) so that your body can get the rest it needs. Alcohol can also increase feelings of anxiety and depression. This is another thing to think about if you’re already dealing with these feelings. My ex loved to drink, so we did it a lot more often than we probably should have. I was dealing with intense anxiety at the time (though I doubt she was fully aware), and every time I drank those feelings became more intense. I have since learned to back off the alcohol when I’m experiencing these emotions.

When in Vienna, have a Mozart Latte (chocolate liqueur)

Beer. (Or in Buffyverse – Beer Bad, Bad Beer). Tasty, and chalk full of gluten. Naturally, if you’re on a gluten-free diet to manage your chronic pain, you’re probably staying away from beer (though there are some gluten free brands out there I’m interested in trying)> Gluten can cause inflammation; inflammation can cause an increase in pain. The solution may be to just stay away from beer altogether (the same argument can easily made about sugary drinks… so go wine at least!), or again, moderation. I personally find that two beers doesn’t affect me too much, but as with most things, an overindulgence can lead to dark places.

Some beer from my Austria trip.

I enjoy having some alcohol when I’m out with my friends. Or on the rare instance that I actually have wine at home, a glass after a long day at work. For the most part, I try not too have too much (I also noticed that hangovers after the age of 27 started to become brutal and I’d rather not subject myself to more pain than I’m already in). I’m not about to preach about whether anyone should drink, or not. That’s an individual choice, just keep in mind that there are options, and of course, consequences to our choices. Enjoy the long weekend!