If you find yourself bored without alcohol or drinking simply because you’re bored, you might be developing an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Regular drinking is often considered socially appropriate and normal, but if your drinking extends to when you’re alone, that’s a red flag. There’s a very fine line between social drinking and problematic drinking, and one could easily lead to the other and cause serious health implications.

If you’re drinking out of boredom, read on to learn more about what this means.

Why Shouldn’t You Drink Out of Boredom?

The increased stress and boredom people faced during the last few years have led to a sharp rise in alcohol consumption in Americans, and alcohol-induced deaths are up by 34% compared to pre-pandemic numbers.

People often use alcohol to enhance experiences, but this kind of drinking is problematic because it makes you dependent on alcohol to not feel bored or to have a good time. For example, most people drink at concerts, sports events or parties to transform their experience and heighten the moment.

The average adult experiences around 131 days of boredom per year, so how you react to this boredom is critical to your mental health.  If you justify to yourself, “I drink when I’m bored,” it can quickly lead to overindulgence and health concerns. If you’re a casual drinker, you should understand the ramifications of regular drinking. You might brush it off as “drinking gives me something to do” and overlook the seriousness of drinking due to boredom, but alcohol overuse accounts for more than 380 deaths daily, and the numbers continue to rise.

What Can Regular Drinking Do to You?

Regularly consuming alcohol when you’re bored has both short-term and long-term effects on your health, even if it doesn’t lead to a drinking disorder.

Short-Term Effects

  • Injuries like falls, bruises, vehicle accidents and burns
  • General and domestic violence, sexual violence, homicide and suicide
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Risky sexual behaviors like unprotected sex
  • Miscarriage or stillbirth in pregnant women

Long-Term Effects

  • Liver disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Digestive problems
  • Cancer
  • Weakened immune system
  • Learning and memory problems and dementia
  • Mental health problems like depression and anxiety
  • Alcohol dependence and alcohol use disorders
  • Social problems, job-related problems and family problems

Most people drink to fill some sort of void, like boredom, loneliness, an unhappy relationship, job-related stress or anxiety. But drinking alcohol doesn’t solve any of these problems. When the alcohol wears off, your problems will still be there, and you’ll likely reach out for more alcohol to escape them again.

Often, being bored without alcohol seems intimidating because when there’s no task to put your mind to, you’re forced to notice the things that are making you unhappy.

In more severe cases, drinking out of boredom can lead to severe alcohol abuse disorders. Starting to drink gradually might be considered normal or appropriate, but it can quickly create a dependence and lead to a severe drinking problem.

Facing your unhappy thoughts can be overwhelming, and it’s natural to need a break or a distraction from time to time. But you should turn to other, more productive ways to cope with your boredom that won’t be detrimental to your health.

What Are Better Ways to Cope With Boredom?

Boredom is a natural state or emotion that’s part of the spectrum of things we feel as humans, and we all experience boredom in different forms and at different times.

However, feeling bored without alcohol isn’t actually a bad thing. And the sickness and tiredness you feel after the initial high of alcohol consumption wears off is neither fun nor interesting. So drinking because you’re bored isn’t doing much for you in the long run. Instead, you should find ways to cope with your boredom that keep you productively occupied and are more fulfilling.

Here are some things you can do to cope with boredom:

  • Listen to music. Music can make the most monotonous and boring chores of your day a little more fun. Make a playlist of your favorite tunes and blast them out when you feel bored.
  • Have jam breaks. Who said you need a club setting or alcohol to bust a move? Jamming out to your favorite songs should be a part of every day and will help you release any pent-up energy or stress.
  • Take a class. If you find your day boringly unproductive or unfulfilling, squeeze in a class doing something fun. This can be a dance class, a boxing class, a class about the stock market or even a pottery class. Basically, the idea is to dedicate time to learning about things you find exciting, which don’t have to be related to your career.
  • Solve a puzzle. Taking on mentally stimulating activities like jigsaw puzzles can be a good distraction while also being stress-busting and fun. This can even be an activity you do with friends and family.
  • Binge-watch a new show. Contrary to popular belief, there’s no harm in the occasional binge-watch. If you find yourself unusually bored, watching a good show or reading an exciting book series can be a good way to fill your time and provide some much-needed perspective, inspiration and entertainment. Coping with boredom doesn’t mean you have to fill your time with productive tasks; doing fun leisure activities can recharge you just the same.
  • Spend time with loved ones. Sharing quality time with your best friends or family can be a good break from the monotony of your daily routine and a great way to let off steam.
  • Do something new.  When daily life gets boring, do something new and change up your surroundings to break out of your rut. This could be anything from finding a new workspace to picking up a new hobby or taking a short vacation.
  • Make a vision board. Get realigned and focused by breaking up larger goals into doable action items. There’s no thrill like accomplishing the things you want to. 

If You Need Help

Ignoring the harmful effects of alcohol consumption and regularly indulging can have short-term and long-term effects on your health. If you find yourself reaching for a drink whenever you’re bored or looking to kill time, you should stop and take measures to correct these tendencies early before they become problematic.

If you’re having trouble making this change alone, Sunlight Recovery offers programs like individual therapy, group therapy and medical detox to help you with drug and alcohol treatment. All treatments are conducted by licensed therapists. If you’re ready for a consultation, contact us now.