Kate's Blog

Why Wine Doesn’t Really Fix Your Anxiety

It can feel as if wine is the only thing that will fix your anxiety…

Especially when you’re overwhelmed, frustrated and stressed out. 
You know a glass of wine (or three) will take the edge off. 
You want to drink less… but alcohol helps you fix your anxiety and get a break from your own brain.
If this sounds like you, then you’re not alone.
Let’s talk about what’s really going on… and introduce a new way of thinking about this.

Key points

Alcohol makes anxiety worse

Studies have shown that long-term drinking can increase our susceptibility to anxiety problems. So the big picture isn’t good, but even in the short term, most of us have experienced hangxiety – i.e. increased anxiety the morning after drinking.

Get the 24 hour picture

Don’t judge alcohol on how you feel when you’re drinking. You’ve got to consider your mood for 24 hours following a drink. When you wake up, sleep-deprived and feeling bad, you start the day with high anxiety, making you more likely to crave a drink later. 

Smiley stickers

Would you ever put a sticker on your car dashboard to cover up a warning light? Doing this might give you some temporary relief but eventually, your car would break down. Wine is that sticker. It’s not fixing anything – it’s just helping you ignore the warning lights. 

How to really fix your anxiety

Sobriety is not about learning how to just resist wine whilst keeping everything else exactly the same. Successful sobriety requires you to address the real issues behind your drinking. 
Perhaps you have too much on your plate and not enough support. Maybe you’re not great at asking for help or you’re worried what people think. Focus on finding real solutions. This work takes a little time, but it’s worth it.
If you’d like some help and support to quit drinking – and create an alcohol-free life you love – click here for details of my online course.

Hi, I'm Kate

I founded The Sober School to show you there’s another way out of your shame that doesn’t involve AA or rehab. 


52 responses

  1. This was so me! Stuck in that cycle of needing a drink so bad to shake off my anxiety from a day of doing too much and never feeling good enough. I did your April 2019 class and I have to say the best cure for my anxiety has been letting go of alcohol. Now that I’m AF, I’m a much less anxious person in general and I’ve been motivated to make other changes in my life. On bad days I always tell myself “look, you got sober – so you can cope with a bit of anxiety, girl!”

    1. Can fully understand what you are saying and it is part anxiety (probably almost anxiety but also a learnt behaviour from my Dad) and part habit.
      I don’t drink in the day but wine o’clock is a big problem
      Have recently took up an old hobby that I have not done for years and that is reading a book, so things are on the up.
      Have a tough road ahead with personal issues and it will be testing
      J x

    2. Love this! It all starts with realising that alcohol is the problem, never the solution. I’m so pleased to see this transformation in you Lucy – congratulations on your sobriety! ❤️

    3. I just recently retired, I always used my job for the reason I needed to drink, when I retired I drank when ever I wanted, I had no stress? Now I just can’t stop, to me I think it’s just a very bad habit. I tried to go to an out patient rehab to find out why I still wanted to drink? I listened to your video on I like the way it makes me feel, recently I was diagnosed with diabetes, and a fatty liver, I’m scared and don’t want to die this way, I’ve cut my drinking down but just can’t stop, it’s always on my mind ? I hate that I can’t stop !

      1. I am retired and have struggled with the same issue. I think there can be a lot of boredom and loneliness, and a drink at the end of the day seems like welcoming an old friend. Of course one drink becomes two and three, and who is counting four? It has become such a bad habit. Personally, I need to substitute other things to do with my time.

    4. Hi Kate! Jennifer here from Sober School and Club… wow this post is so right on target and so what I needed to hear. After taking your course I began to learn that alcohol causes anxiety, but I didn’t realize this am cycle AT ALL before… and now as I am living Alcohol Free I really need to understand and live these concepts you are presenting here. Thank you so much!

  2. I do drink more wine when life is out of sink and I do not want to deal with it. Then I regret it for days afterwards. I am sick and tired of having those feelings. So I have no kind of alcohol in my house and I want to keep it that way. My family is really supporting me everyday.

    1. In what way is your family helping you? I retired a year ago and I couldn’t keep myself in line and not drink wine. Ive given it up for short times but stress, anxiety keeps bringing it back. If it’s not in your home, and some day you desire a glass, what do you do instead? I’m planning on Kate’s October class. Thanks … and good for you.

  3. Your right. There is a smiley face sticker on my bottle of wine. IT calls to me everyday at 5 ish. HMMM. Eye opening. Thank you.

  4. You were most definitely speaking directly to me. That is the wheel that my little mouse self is treading. I need to get more involved in your sessions.

  5. Your blog posts and videos are so insightful, Kate! Love these “touches” as reminders to just keep going! Things keep getting better and better and easier and easier.

      1. Everything you have ever said since I found you makes sense to me but this one tops the bundle so far . It’s perfectly coincided with me taking yet another break from alcohol but this time with the mindset of looking under those stickers at the true problem. The overwhelm, the high standards of accountability, the perfectionism. I have to admit, there have been times where I have put the sticker over your your emails and FB posts and pretended they’re not there. Funny though, up until now I’ve been looking at alcohol being the problem, the bad guy, the force that must be resisted. I am finding miles more power in the realisation that I can change what’s underneath those damn stickers!! Thank you xx

  6. I am so glad I listened to you today after a dreadful day filled with hangxiety, self loathing, tears and exhaustion. I couldn’t understand why I kept failing in my attempts to avoid alcohol but I realise that I have been using alcohol rather than just enjoying a drink! Thank you

      1. I read this as I was drinking a final night cap….. in fact I threw away that night cap as I don’t want to use stickers in my life anymore. Thank you for this very informative realistic scenario on what has been going on in my life!

  7. This is a great analogy Kate. I’m 2 years 2 months without wine….and without the anxiety that went with it !
    A huge thank you to you
    Eileen A

  8. I find my job makes me anxious. In fact I hate it I take antidepressants which have helped but a couple of glasses of wine take the edge off quieten my mind and helps me drop off to sleep. I’m too old to change my profession and lockdown has made me realise that I just want to retire early and be the master of my own time. I’m fed up with trying to squash my life into a Saturday because I have to do work for school on sundays and every evening. My children have just became adults and I feel guilty about working throughout their childhood. I am burned out and want the world to stop. Drinking a couple of glasses dulls the feeling

  9. I am so glad you address the current pandemic as (despite the fact that the problem has been around much longer) it really has become exacerbated during this awful year. It makes me feel like your points aren’t just generic- they are tailored to the current unusual circumstances. So yes…anxiety is almost an understatement! 🙂

  10. The smiley sticker is such a good analogy! And now I have No Warning Lights by BT stuck in my head, thanks.
    Anxiety was a huge trigger for me. Really, any feelings I didn’t want to feel. Dealing with anxiety in early sobriety (read: dealing with it at all) currently looks like throwing the kitchen sink at it, since I never learned any real coping skills. Lately the first thing I reach for is the Headspace app or an adult coloring book.
    Another weird thing that helps is reading nonfiction books. Facts provide a feeling of being more in control, plus if I’m reading to relax, I want something that doesn’t have an emotional charge. Books that make you worry about the characters aren’t any good when you already have compassion fatigue from living in the literal hell that is Trump’s America.

  11. Dear Kate,
    THIS was my EXCUSE for drinking wine, lots of wine, every night when I was working long hours in a quite demanding job. By a miracle, this never interfered with my work and I got the highest marks for efficiency, blah blah blah, so I was convinced that nobody ever noticed. But someone did notice. It was the office medical service at my pre-retirement check-up, and the doctor, when he saw my blood tests, insisted that I consult a specialist in addictions. I did not do so, figuring that post retirement, I would be so relaxed that I would no longer drink my daily wine. Yet nothing changed but the excuses, the next one becoming “boredom”! In doing an examination of conscience, I really do not have any cause to complain, since I live in a wonderful city in France, have a comfortable apartment with like-minded neighbors, and even though I am far from wealthy, I have enough money to live correctly. I never drink more than one glass of wine in public, and have never drank any alcohol when I was driving, for fear of being arrested and losing my job. I manage social events well with my new neighbors in a new place, but none of them would ever imagine that when I get back home, that I can toss down a bottle of wine – in about 15 minutes – as an aperitif.
    I have received your blog for the last five weeks, and see myself a bit in each of your pep talks. The old adage of “drinking too much will catch up with you one day or another” is now applicable to me, as my health tests just keep getting worse and worse, and this makes me so depressed that my solution is to just have another bottle of wine.
    I have looked into AA, but there are only male members where I live, and their “skid row” stories are so very different from my own. Your course seems to be so much more suited to my particular needs.
    I am on the wait-list for your October course, and really do hope that you will find a place for me. Thank you in advance.

  12. I recently completed Kate’s course, and it is money well spent. I really needed the continuous support to stick with it. I would log in and do the daily work every morning, and it kept me focused. I’m so much happier now, and definitely less anxious. Things that used to “throw me” just aren’t as big a deal. Thank you, Kate!

  13. This sounds like me. But after retiring I looked forward to wine o’clock. I love red wine and Zinfindels. I even was a member of several wine clubs. Covid 19 was a good excuse to have a cocktail with an appetizer for lunch and then pop a bottle of wine early evening while cooking and listening to music. When my husband went to bed, and I found myself popping open a second bottle, I knew this was going too far.
    I began to not drink the day after our 20th anniversary and a blood test where my liver alt had risen higher for the first time of my life! This scared me. I am day 19 now and having trouble getting to sleep, so I ordered melatonin. Hope it helps. I am feeling much better not drinking. If the anxiety comes around and I think about wine, I pop a bottle of bubbly water. It has been very helpful along with dill pickles.

  14. If you know the issues that will get you anxious or generally upset, and you fill it coming on what to do? My issues aren’t going away for awhile so wine is my comforter. I am reading more of your posts and I definitely have the desire, I just wrap my head around it. Thanks for your website, it is giving me much to think about.

  15. Great analogy. it’ll soon be wine o’clock here and that unfinished bottle of rose at the bottom of the fridge is calling me. I just put an upside down face on it!

  16. Even knowing that wine won’t help me deal with my anxiety about literally everything in my life, I still can’t stop turning to wine at wine o clock
    Feel so unmotivated, depressed and worried all the time x

    1. Julia I know exactly how you feel. I just retired and was so looking forward to traveling and having fun. Then Covid hit. Now I’m depressed and bored and anxiety about everything! I had all these issues before but now it’s worse cause of the pandemic. I try to stop drinking but I just can’t seem to do it. I live alone so no accountability to anyone.

  17. Kate, I am grateful that I discovered you online. Your videos are so helpful and right on target. I do drink wine to suppress anxiety, yet the hanganxiety is much worse, and it is a vicious cycle. I seem to be in a similar position as Rosemary who never drinks excessively until going home alone. We may be looking normal on the outside, but our bodies are paying the price. There’s no hiding from the destruction wine is doing to me. I look forward to your posts Kate and hope that I will be able to meet up with Rosemary in your course in October. Keep those videos coming, please. I am 2 days AF!

  18. I have been retired over 2 years. I was going to hot yoga 6 days a week. It was my social life since I no longer work. Then the pandemic hit, the yoga studio had to close and that was my reason to drink every night. Honestly, even before the closure I was drinking more often. I thought it would only last a couple weeks and then I would cut back on drinking. Well, it went on and on and so did my nightly drinking. I’ve had some health problems over the past year or so and I knew that my drinking didn’t help. But I kept pushing those thoughts that I need to quit drinking to the back of my head. I liked the feeling I got from wine too much. I was definitely feeling anxious every day because I would tell myself “I’m not going to drink tonight “. As soon as late afternoon started coming on I’d be fighting my thoughts because I wanted to drink and I wanted to quit. Finally, I have gone without a drink for 22 days. I plan to do Kate’s October course because I know this is going to be a struggle for me to stick with not drinking. Reading the blogs and listening to the videos and letting out the truth about my drinking is helping. Thank you Kate.

    1. Jo,
      You sound like me in a way. I had lots of activities of interest (book clubs, discovering a new city in retirement, decorating my apartment with a lifetime of souvenirs from my travels, etc.), and then COVID struck. I have a very good GP, in whom I have confidence, and I share Kate’s messages with him, in case they will help someone else, even though we are few English speakers here. When he saw my last blood tests, he said: “Rosemary, At what time do you now start Wine O’Clock?”, and I had to admit that, with nothing else to do but read all day long, that Wine O’Clock moved up by a few hours, to lunch time, and then a nap in the afternoon, which became less of a nap but rather more of just collapsing into bed for several hours.
      I am encouraged by all of the successes of Kate’s course, and even though I am afraid of failure, I will give it a try – if there is still a place available.
      I know of another young woman, with a successful career, who succumbed to alcohol to deal with a very unhappy marriage and the trials and tribulations of three young children, who also suffered from from living in an unhappy household, and she took the bull by the horns and put herself into a treatment center in a hospital, with mixed results – the usual psychiatrists and AA follow-up. She is doing much better now, but I think that the description of “a recovering alcoholic” is for a lifetime, and that total sobriety will always be difficult.
      Perhaps I am wrong, because when I look at Kate, in her countryside, looking confident and healthy, I see HOPE that this disease can be cured, with strong willpower and the support of other females.

  19. Two years and two months of AF living and all thanks to you! Your course is transformative. Had really hoped to see you in person this summer. That time will come

  20. This is my main reason for quitting drinking. I’m only three weeks in but rather than just using willpower I am looking into why I drink etc. The habit forming drinking on a Friday night is the most difficult for me so I would drink on Saturday night then most of the day Sunday. Monday’s were hell. At work, anxiety through the roof, performance low. Tuesdays were similar but not as bad but still anxious and low energy. Wednesdays would be low mood. Thursday back to normal and since it’s my last working day of the week I would relax with a drink and start all over again! It was a mad vicious circle. What’s helped me is forming a new Friday night habit – bought a sewing machine and getting creative. I’m now immersed in knitting and crochet and reading lots of novels and self help books. I have a waiting list of hobbies that I just can’t fit in yet but they are there waiting should I get a bit more time or bored with the current ones. When I took that first sip I would sit on the sofa and not move until I rolled into bed and weekends I wouldn’t have any energy to do anything. Now I just think of all the time I wasted hungover.

  21. spot on! I discovered wine in my mid-forties, for the first time, when there was conflict in our organisation. Then started heavily self-medicating with alcohol when my marriage failed. I am on day 3 of no alcohol (or chocolate!) and am starting to feel lighter and stronger. Hoping to continue.

  22. I’ve been trying to quit for years but this time I feel like it is going to stick. I am on day 20 and the improvement in my mood, sleep, my skin, everything, is so amazing. I have come to the conclusion that I will never be a moderate drinker. I am never going to go from excess to 1 or 2, on occasion. I don’t like this truth but it IS the truth for me. I will always prefer none to one as far as drinking is concerned so therefore, it has to be none. Thank you, Kate, for your wisdom.

  23. I enjoyed listening to that Kate, that is me 100%. Since my work has now got me working from home my drinking starts way earlier in the day, let me rephrase that, my drinking starts way earlier in the morning. I am ashamed. It’s 1005 where I live and I am on my first beer☹️

    1. Hi Robin-
      Your story is so vulnerable and so honest and I just have to thank you. I just found this site this morning and it is just wonderful to read these posts and realize that I’m not a moron and that everyone has a personal story. I hear so much of myself in all of you and it gives me a sense of great hope. Thank you again.

  24. I really identify with this. . It’s exactly me. Alcohol seems like my (only true) understanding friend that bolsters me up of an evening and I don’t know how I’d cope without. But the next morning, it’s the friend I think I’d be better off without and regret letting in the night before as I’m not sure what we did and I feel so rough and anxious after having spent time with them. And on and on it goes. . .

  25. I have been trying to give up drinking but then start feeling really anxious and can’t sleep for nights on end and also been getting rapid heart beats so I end up drinking again to calm me down and help me to sleep. I don’t know what to do because I really want to give it up but find it too stressful with the lack of sleep and anxiety

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