Social anxiety is a disorder that affects how people feel or deal with the social situations. Commonly known as social phobia, people with this disorder are afflicted by excessive and irrational anxiety or fear in certain social situations or during interactions with other people. Besides seriously affecting one’s personality and general life skills by triggering increased self-consciousness and nervousness, social anxiety can lead to agoraphobia, depression or other mental illnesses, when left untreated.
About 20 percent people suffering from both social anxiety disorder and alcohol addiction as highlighted by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). People affected by social anxiety often turn to alcohol to cope with distress or reduce the symptoms. While alcohol may be helpful in providing temporary relief, it often harms a person with social anxiety disorder enormously.
Though the symptoms of social anxiety seem to be relieved in the short run, the intensity, in fact, increases when it strikes back the next time. Unfortunately, people used to taking alcohol just cannot cope with the situation without drinking alcohol, which can become a lose-lose situation.
Repercussions of self-medicating anxiety with alcohol
Overall, there are two common reasons behind increased abuse of alcohol by people suffering from anxiety. Firstly, alcohol in most circumstances seems to be an obvious choice for alleviating the uncomfortable feeling of self-consciousness and nervousness witnessed during social situations and at work. One may have an intense craving for drinking after a nerve-wracking assignment at work. The numbness caused by alcohol reduces the level of embarrassment or anxiety that would be otherwise present in that social situation.
Secondly, alcohol helps people with social anxiety disorder in mixing up with people during social situations without any guilt or shame. A person with social anxiety disorder may consume alcohol before or during a networking event because of the relaxing effect of alcohol that may help him or her get through the event without instilling fear or nervousness.
Moreover, it can immensely help the person in interacting with others more easily, thereby reducing his or her inhibitions or shyness. However, it is essential to understand that alcohol is not a safe and effective way to overcome the challenges of social anxiety disorder. While alcohol provides instant and temporary relief, it often turns into the vicious cycle of addiction. Moreover, it often prolongs tension and spikes anxiety.
Due to the increased interdependency between alcohol addiction and social anxiety disorder, the co-occurrence of both the disorders is quite a common occurrence among the masses. In fact, the coexistence of both the diseases has devastating disadvantages. Apart from increasing the risk of developing critical illnesses, such as cancer, heart diseases, lung and live damages, etc., the alcoholics may also face severe relationship and social problems.
As such, alcohol does not provide a permanent solution for the anxiety symptoms. When the intoxication level comes down, tension, nervousness and other associated feelings also come back to haunt the person affected by social anxiety disorder. Moreover, psychologists believe that the feelings, which remain suppressed due to the effects of alcohol, turn intense and acute in the absence of alcohol.
Get effective treatment to achieve sobriety
Though there are several options for treatment, one of the best options is one-on-one consultation with a therapist or physician having enough experience in treating anxiety disorders. Such a therapy helps a person suffering from social anxiety disorder in successfully participating in an alcohol treatment program.
A combination of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational enhancement therapy (MET) is an excellent way for dealing with the problem of dual diagnosis. In fact, MET, often used in counseling people with the problem of substance abuse, helps a person in reducing the craving for a substance.
If you are suffering from a co-occurring disorder, contact the California Dual Diagnosis Helpline to know more about the rehab centers in California to treat co-occurring disorders. Call us at our 24/7 helpline 855-980-1736 or chat online to locate the best dual diagnosis treatment centers in California.
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