Why Do We Drink After a Breakup?

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Drinking after a breakup is a popular coping mechanism—despite the fact that it isn’t exactly healthy. On the one hand, getting buzzed can make you feel better in the moment. But on the other hand, are those temporary feelings of relief worth it? And why is the urge to drink after a breakup so common?

Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know about drinking after breakups, potential downsides to be aware of, and healthy alternatives to help you heal.

Why Do People Drink After a Breakup?

two women going through a breakup
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Whenever someone goes through a breakup, it’s natural for them to want to ease their pain. For some, this means spending time with family, going on a hike, or venting endlessly to friends. But for many others, it means one, two, or eight mixed drinks and a few weeks of partying.

Here are a few reasons why drinking is so common after a breakup:

  • To feel better—temporarily. Alcohol might help you forget about your troubles for a night. But once the night is over and the hangover hits, your feelings will still be there to be dealt with.
  • To get back out there. Alcohol is a social lubricant—meaning it can help you loosen up if you aren’t used to hanging out with people alone anymore. As a newly single person, you might feel that having a few drinks helps you connect with others.
  • To cope with emotions. When you’re going through something as distressing as a breakup, some emotions are downright overwhelming. One of the unfortunate reasons people turn to drinking a lot after breakups is that they don’t have other resources to help them cope.
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Is It Okay To Drink After a Breakup?

If a person has a healthy relationship with alcohol, moderate drinking can fit into a well-rounded lifestyle.

However, if you have the urge to binge drink or drink frequently after a breakup, it may be time to take a step back and check in with yourself. Even though grief, rejection, and jealousy are extremely challenging emotions, remember that alcohol won’t cure your pain in the long run.

Still, drinking after a breakup can be okay when done moderately and with a level head. If having a couple of beers gets you out of the house with your friends once a week, it may even be somewhat constructive.

The problem occurs when alcohol becomes your way of coping with or blocking out emotions. In short, you shouldn’t feel like reaching for a drink every time a painful feeling comes up. And if you do feel that way, it might be best to lay off the booze for a while. As tough as it can be, avoiding alcohol may set you on the path to feeling better for the long haul.

Better Ways of Coping After a Breakup

person journaling to cope with a breakup
Photo by Negative Space on Pexels

Healing from a broken heart takes time, and it’s best to expect some rough patches along the way. Fortunately, healthy coping mechanisms can make this process go a little more smoothly.

We know that the best way to heal is time. But for now, here are some positive, alcohol-free ways to cope after a breakup.

  • Focus on your hobbies and do more of what you love. Whether it’s fitness, art, cooking—if there’s any hobby that you used to get lost in, now’s the time to dive back into it.
  • Journal, meditate, or work on your spirituality if this suits your interests.
  • Give yourself a change of scenery. Go on a trip with some friends or take yourself to a new city for a day.
  • Acknowledge your feelings and remember that they will pass.
  • Spend plenty of time with your family and friends.
  • Open up about your emotions to the people who care about you. Having support from loved ones can make a major difference in your healing process.

What Are the Downsides of Drinking After a Breakup?

At the very least, drinking because of a broken heart can lead to regrettable decisions during a night out (we’ve all been there). But over the long term there are greater risks: using alcohol to cope with your emotions can become a habit that’s difficult to break.

Struggling with alcohol use can delay your healing process even longer and put more stress on your plate. And the last thing you want to do is allow a breakup to put you on a path that’s dangerous for your health.

If you feel like your drinking has gotten out of hand after a breakup, you’re certainly not alone. Try some of these tips for cutting back or quitting alcohol, and if it’s hard to reduce your drinking on your own, know that there is help available. Telehealth programs like Ria Health don’t require you to identify as an alcoholic or disrupt your life to get support.

Curious whether you’re actually drinking too much? Take our alcohol use quiz.

Have questions about online alcohol treatment?

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Written By:
Alicia Schultz
Alicia is a Minnesota-based freelancer who writes for Ria Health and various other brands in the health and wellness space. Beyond addiction and recovery, she also covers topics relating to general well-being, mindfulness, fitness, mental health, and more. When she’s not writing, you can find her relaxing with her three-legged cat, trying new workout routines, and spending time with her loved ones.
Reviewed By:
Evan O'Donnell
Evan O’Donnell is an NYC-based content strategist with four years’ experience writing and editing in the recovery space. He has conducted research in sound, cognition, and community building, has a background in independent music marketing, and continues to work as a composer. Evan is a deep believer in fact-based, empathic communication—within business, arts, academia, or any space where words drive action or change lives.
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