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Alcohol and Social Anxiety

woman struggles with social anxiety

Social anxiety disorder is a common mental illness, affecting approximately fifteen million men and women in the U.S.  Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and without treatment, people suffering from SAD may experience difficulties in their social and professional lives.  Individuals with SAD often turn to alcohol to provide them relief in triggering situations, and may develop an addiction as a result. As with any other mental illness, SAD requires medical management and is likely to become worse after abusing alcohol.  Unfortunately, studies have found that people living with SAD often wait ten or more years before seeking professional help. Triggers for SAD are unique to the individual, but common experiences that may induce symptoms include talking to new people, public speaking, making eye contact, and eating in front of others.  Social activities that come easily to others can result in feelings of panic, sweating, shaking, nausea, and a flushed appearance in those with SAD. Symptoms may become so severe that the individual begins to believe they are having a heart attack or stroke.  One of the most potent fears for those suffering from SAD is that others will notice the visible symptoms of an attack and judge or ridicule them. People living with SAD often begin to isolate themselves and avoid social situations as much as possible, which can lead to symptom escalation over time.   People with SAD may choose to self-medicate with alcohol to get through social situations.  Alcohol can provide temporary relief of panic and anxiety, often making those suffering from SAD feel like they need to drink to participate in “normal” activities and occasions.  This can lead to a dangerous cycle of consumption with the potential for addiction. Developing an addiction of any kind will only worsen symptoms of anxiety and panic, in addition to other physical and mental health issues.  People living with addiction and SAD should seek treatment from professionals experienced in identifying and addressing co-occurring disorders. 

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and mental illness, now is the time to reach out for help.  At Arbor Behavioral Healthcare, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms.  The Arbor uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, and at The Arbor you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan.  We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit, so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 844-413-2690.