Alcohol and Anxiety

Recent Evidence on the Tension Reduction Theory of Alcohol Use and Abuse
  • G. Terence Wilson
Part of the Advances in the Study of Communication and Affect book series (ASCA, volume 7)


The most remarkable feature of the tension reduction theory of alcohol use and abuse is how widely it is believed. The notion that alcohol reduces tension and that people drink in order to obtain this effect appears to make common sense and is deeply ingrained in folklore and clinical experience. Literary allusions to this effect abound, a particularly notable instance being Keats’s expression in his Ode to a Nightingale:
  • O, for a draught of vintage!. . . .

  • Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,

  • That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,

  • Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget

  • The weariness, the fever, and the fret. . . .


Alcohol Consumption Social Anxiety Drinking Pattern Tension Reduction Blood Alcohol Level 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Terence Wilson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA

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