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Alcohol: Social-Booster Or Anxiety Inducer?

Learn about the relationship between alcohol and mental health, including the potential effects, risks, and strategies for maintaining a healthy relationship with alcohol. Explore moderation, self-awareness, and the importance of seeking support when needed.

Clearhead Tip: Drinking alcohol in moderation can help you to feel more confident and relaxed, so you perform better in social situations. However, it can also reduce inhibition, meaning you’re more likely to say or do things you might regret.

It may act as a stimulant, bringing on euphoria and making you more talkative. However, it’s also a depressant and may lower your mood and bring on stress and anxiety, especially if you drink enough to feel hungover.

So, drinking in moderation may support you socially, but overall, it tends not to support wellbeing. There’s much better tools you can use to reduce social anxiety than alcohol.

The Science
Health Navigator. (2022, September 2). Alcohol and mental health. https://www.healthnavigator.org.nz/healthy-living/a/alcohol-and-mental-health/

The link between alcohol and health is mixed. Moderate alcohol intake can increase the risk of breast and colon cancer, but there could also be benefits to cardiovascular health, especially in middle age. Moderate drinking of red wine may lower heart disease risk, however any health benefits come from a consistent drinking pattern.

Alcohol and Health

  • If you don't drink, there is no need to start. The risks of drinking alcohol generally outweigh the benefits. There are better ways to improve heart health such as exercise, watching your weight, and eating healthy fats and wholegrains.
  • If you drink, do so in moderation. That means one or two drinks per day for women and two to three drinks per day for men. Wine, beer or spirits all seem to have the same health benefits. This recommendation is not an 'average' over several days, but an amount consumed on any single day.
  • Try for at least 2 alcohol free days per week.

People who shouldn't drink

  • Women who are, or may be, pregnant
  • People younger than 21 years of age
  • People with medical conditions, or those who are taking medications that interact with alcohol
  • Recovering alcoholics or people unable to control how much they drink
  • Women who are breastfeeding should speak with their healthcare provider regarding alcohol consumption

What is a standard drink? Examples below

  • 330 ml can of beer @ 4% alcohol = 1 standard drink
  • 100 ml glass of table wine @ 12.5% alcohol = 1 standard drink
  • 335 ml bottle of RTD spirits @ 8% alcohol = 2.1 standard drinks
  • 750ml bottle of wine @ 13% alcohol = 7.7 standard drinks
  • 1000 ml bottle of spirits @ 47% alcohol = 37 standard drinks
  • 3 litre cask of wine @ 12.5% alcohol = 30 standard drinks

The main consideration with alcohol is the risks versus the benefits. You also need to think about the amount you are drinking as it is well known that excess alcohol is harmful to health. There is convincing evidence that alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer. Alcohol can also increase the risk of liver damage, increase blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease.

Ultimately, the safest amount of alcohol is none.

The Science




Ronksley PE, Brien SE, Turner BJ, Mukamal KJ, Ghali WA. Association of alcohol consumption with selected cardiovascular disease outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. 2011. BMJ 342:d671.

Yang Y, Liu D, Wang Q, Long Q, Zhao S, Zhao S, et.al. Alcohol consumption and risk of coronary artery disease: A dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. 2016. Nutrition, Vol.32(6), pp.637-644.

Stockwell T, Zhao J, Panwar S, Roemer A, Naimi T & Chikritzhs T. Do "Moderate" Drinkers Have Reduced Mortality Risk? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Alcohol Consumption and All-Cause Mortality. 2016. J Stud Alcohol Drugs Mar;77(2)185-98.


If you are not in immediate danger but require crisis support:  mentalhealth.org.nz
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Beyond Blue
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Kids Helpline
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MensLine Australia
MensLine Australia is a professional telephone and online counselling service offering support to Australian men. Call 1300 78 99 78, 24 hours/7 days a week, chat online or organise a video chat.
Open Arms — Veterans and Families Counselling
Open Arms — Veterans and Families Counselling provides 24/7 free and confidential counselling to anyone who has served at least one day in the ADF, their partners and families. Call 1800 011 046.
If you are not in immediate danger but require crisis support:  healthdirect.gov.au