Alcohol affects your body and brain, increases many health risks and can damage your mental health. During difficult times in life, people sometimes turn to alcohol or other drugs to help them cope.

Using alcohol can...

Cause depression, or make it worse

Alcohol may make you feel less anxious or down while you are drinking, but when the effects of the alcohol wear off you can feel worse than before. Alcohol is a depressant. Alcohol's effects on our mood are temporary, and we may even feel worse after drinking, because of the way alcohol changes our brain chemistry. This is why we often feel down or anxious the morning after a night’s drinking.

Weaken your coping skills 

Coping skills are like a muscle – the more you use them, the stronger they get. If we use alcohol to cope instead, we miss out on using and developing healthy coping skills, like:

The next time we face a challenge we may feel more overwhelmed and more likely to turn to alcohol again.

Make relationships hard

Getting drunk or spending too much time drinking can cause arguments or mean you neglect or hurt the people you care about.

Undermine your self-esteem

Regret and guilt about drinking or drunken behaviour can make you feel bad about yourself.

Affect your physical health 

Poor sleep, hangovers and alcohol-related health problems can make you feel less able to cope and add to your difficulties. Read more about alcohol and your physical health here on

Make existing mental health problems worse 

Alcohol can make the symptoms of mental health problems like depression, anxiety, personality disorders worse. Read more about alcohol and mental health problems here on

Lead to self-harm and suicide

Alcohol is linked to higher rates of self-harm and suicide. It is a risk factor we can influence. For people at risk of self-harm and suicide, it is important to recognise how alcohol can increase the risk. Read more about alcohol, suicide and self-harm here on

Lead to dependence - when alcohol becomes the problem

If you find yourself increasingly relying on alcohol to make you feel more confident, fill a void in your life, or deal with a difficult situation, you may be at risk of becoming dependent.  It may take a bit of work, but relying less on alcohol can make a long-lasting difference to your mood and mental health. Read more about alcohol dependence here on

Ask About Alcohol Homepage

If you are concerned that you or someone you care about has a problem with alcohol there is help available.

  • If you are not sure what help you need you can call the HSE Alcohol Helpline 1800 459 459

  • Visit the Service Finder here on

  • Search for other mental health services in your area here

  • If you need urgent help please contact your GP or nearest Emergency Department.