Zombie Scrolling, Alcohol Abuse, and Escaping Stress: Healthier Alternatives

Dad working from home is overly distressed and distracted thanks to rowdy kids at home; likely to pickup a drink or unwind with other unhealthy distraction, like social media.

In an era where digital devices are omnipresent and stress levels continue to rise, many find solace in the virtual embrace of screens or the temporary reprieve provided by alcohol. Yet, these seemingly benign escape routes carry with them profound implications for our emotional and physical health. Let's unpack the detrimental effects of digital addiction and alcohol abuse, supported by scientific evidence, and introduces validated, healthier alternatives for coping with stress.

The Digital Dilemma: Beyond Screen Time

Digital addiction extends beyond excessive screen time, seeping into our psychological well-being and altering our brain's fundamental operations. The constant barrage of notifications and the endless scroll through social media feeds keep us locked in a cycle of instant gratification, which, paradoxically, increases our stress levels.

  • Neurological Impact: Studies have found that excessive use of digital devices can lead to significant changes in the brain’s structure and function, similar to those seen in addiction to substances. For example, reduced gray matter in areas controlling emotional processing and decision-making has been observed in individuals with internet gaming disorder.
  • Dopmaine surges and spikes have been observed, implying that excessive digital consumption can lead to addictive tendencies and destructive consequences
  • Data Point: A study published in the "Journal of Behavioral Addictions" found a direct correlation between screen time and symptoms of depression among young adults, highlighting the emotional cost of our digital lives.
Man zombie scrolls late at night.

Alcohol Abuse: The Cost of Numbing the Mind

While reaching for a drink to unwind might seem innocuous, the line between casual use and dependency can blur quickly, especially when used as a coping mechanism for stress. Alcohol abuse wreaks havoc on the body and mind, leading to a spectrum of adverse outcomes.

  • Physiological and Psychological Effects: Beyond the well-known liver damage, alcohol abuse can impair cognitive functions, alter mood regulation, and increase the risk of developing mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression.
  • Statistics to Ponder: The World Health Organization reports that harmful use of alcohol results in 3 million deaths each year worldwide, accounting for 5.3% of all deaths.
Man wrestles with life, and the reality of his drinking.

Brain Science: The Role of Dopamine in Addiction and Stress Coping:

At the heart of both digital and alcohol addiction lies dopamine, the "feel-good" neurotransmitter. Our brains release dopamine in response to perceived rewards, but when those rewards are tied to unhealthy behaviors, it creates a cycle of addiction that can be challenging to break.

  • Understanding Dopamine: Each time we experience something pleasurable, dopamine pathways are strengthened, making it more likely for those actions to be repeated. However, overstimulation of these pathways through addictive behaviors can lead to a decrease in dopamine receptors, diminishing our ability to feel pleasure from everyday activities and increasing dependence on harmful habits for satisfaction.
  • The Stress Connection: Chronic stress has been shown to affect dopamine signaling in the brain, which can influence our decision-making and increase susceptibility to addiction. Effective stress management techniques can help mitigate these effects and promote healthier dopamine regulation.

Charting a Healthier Course: Evidence-Based Alternatives to Escape:

Transitioning from harmful coping mechanisms to beneficial ones requires understanding and effort, but the rewards—a healthier, more balanced life—are well within reach.

  • Physical Activity as a Keystone Habit: Engaging in regular exercise is not only beneficial for physical health but also acts as a powerful antidepressant and anxiolytic, improving mood and resilience against stress through the natural release of endorphins and the regulation of stress hormones.
  • The Power of Mindfulness: Mindfulness meditation has been extensively studied for its benefits in reducing stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression. It enhances our ability to remain present and reduces the habitual reach for digital or alcoholic escapes by fostering a deeper connection with our internal state.
  • Creative Engagement for Emotional Expression: Creative pursuits offer a constructive outlet for expressing and processing emotions, reducing the need to escape through harmful habits. Whether through art, music, writing, or dance, creativity nurtures emotional health and fosters a sense of accomplishment and self-worth.
  • Social Connection - "When stressed, don't consume, connect." Studies found that connection to other humans is a powerful antidote to stress and the hamrful avoidant behaviors that follow.  Be open, honest, and proactive in seeking fruitful engagement with friends and family.


Escaping into the digital world or through alcohol might offer a temporary hideaway from stress, but the long-term consequences can tether us to a cycle of dependency and dissatisfaction. By embracing healthier coping mechanisms grounded in scientific research, we can mitigate the adverse effects of stress, enhance our well-being, and rediscover the joys of living fully engaged in the moment.

If you're ready to explore healthier ways to manage stress and break free from the cycle of digital and alcohol dependency, join us for more insights and strategies.

Dive deeper with us on "The Live Deep Podcast" or join our community via the Altum App NOW.

Here's to living #AltumStrong


Further Reading:

  1. Journal of Behavioral Addictions: Explore the study on screen time and depression among young adults for a deeper understanding of digital addiction's impact on mental health. Read more here.
  2. World Health Organization (WHO): Delve into the global statistics on alcohol abuse and its consequences. Discover the facts.
  3. American Psychological Association (APA): Learn about the effects of chronic stress on dopamine signaling and decision-making. Uncover the research.
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse: Gain insight into how physical activity can act as an antidepressant and anxiolytic, enhancing mood and resilience. Explore the benefits.
  5. Mindful: Investigate the benefits of mindfulness meditation in reducing stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression. Read about mindfulness practices.
  6. Psychology Today: Understand the role of creativity in emotional health and its power as a constructive outlet for emotional expression. Learn about creative engagement.


- Instagram:

- Facebook:

- X:

- TikTok:


- Youtube:

- Apple Podcasts: