person with social anxiety

The Link Between Social Anxiety And Alcohol Abuse

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Social anxiety and alcohol have, for a long time, been linked through self-medicating behaviors. You may have heard the term “liquid courage”. This can refer to someone who suffers from social anxiety, and the fear of being in social situations who turns to drinking as a means of medicating and feeling better when needing to participate. This can be a dangerous route to take, there are many dangers to turning to alcohol as a means of coping when social anxiety becomes too great.

What is Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety is also known as social phobia. It causes intense fear and anxiety surrounding social situations. While it is normal, for the most part, to have some generalized anxiety surrounding social events like dates, or work parties, it can lead to severe symptoms in some people. Worry and fear about being judged or over how you look, how you are perceived, and how to act, can lead to some uncomfortable reactions within the body.

When you suffer from social anxiety, this fear and worry can lead to avoiding socializing, and cause major disruption to your life. 

Symptoms that could be indicative of social anxiety can include:

  • Fear of negative judgment from others
  • Intense fear of socializing with strangers
  • Fear of humiliating yourself in social settings
  • Anxiety when thinking of future social events
  • Avoiding socialization
  • Avoiding speaking to people out of fear

Feeling some uncomfortability surrounding social events does not mean you have social anxiety. But, when that fear and uncomfortability begin to disrupt your social life, this is where it could be a sign of a bigger issue. 

Why People With Social Anxiety Turn to Alcohol

The link between social anxiety and alcohol is prevalent when someone feels they need to be in a place where they can have a beer or a cocktail, maybe a glass of wine, in order to not feel anxious and uncomfortable so that they can participate in social functions. Alcohol is a depressant, meaning that it can help to calm the brain into being less anxious, allowing you to be out and about in a social setting, all while feeling minimal anxiety and discomfort.

Social anxiety can have a devastating impact on your life, however, self-medicating symptoms with alcohol can lead to far more detrimental impacts.

Alcohol Isn’t the Answer for Social Anxiety

Self-medicating in order to help the associated feelings can be a dangerous mix. When people begin drinking, their goal is not to become an alcoholic, usually, it is to have a good time and socialize over a drink. However, when drinking becomes a part of your daily routine in order to be able to socialize, it can lead to physical dependence. When this occurs, it can be so difficult to stop drinking, especially without professional and medical help. Alcohol can wreak havoc on your life and relationships. 

Living with social anxiety and alcohol dependency can be a daunting task. When you feel like you have to drink in order to be in uncomfortable social situations, but you also know alcohol has become a problem for you, it can lead to some intense feelings of shame and guilt about drinking.

If you find yourself in this kind of position, addressing both social anxiety and alcohol addiction can be the best answer. When you address and treat both, you will be able to manage symptoms better, in a positive way. You can learn new ways of coping that doesn’t involve drinking.

Signs Your Drinking Habits May Be a Problem

Gradually increasing, mixing social anxiety and alcohol can lead to dependence in order to function normally in day-to-day life. You may not even notice it, at least not until you try to go a day or two without a drink. Then you may begin to feel symptoms that can be uncomfortable, and question what is going on with you.

If you find yourself drinking more than four times a week, drinking to the point of intoxication more often, feeling shame or guilt surrounding your drinking habits, or drinking alcohol around the same time on a daily basis, then alcohol may be becoming a problem in your life. Your family and friends may be expressing concern for you at this point. But there is hope because there is help for treating both social anxiety and alcohol dependence.

Help for Alcohol Addiction and Social Anxiety in Orange County, CA

Using alcohol to self-medicate symptoms of social anxiety can lead to far worse things than being uncomfortable in social settings. Alcohol addiction is a beast, and it can be very difficult to break that cycle on your own, especially if you suffer from social anxiety as well. Ocean Hills Recovery in Orange County, California, can help you to address both an anxiety disorder and addiction to alcohol.

You don’t have to continue to struggle with these disorders, help is a phone call away. Contact us now, and begin the next step to getting to a happier, healthier life.

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