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Does Alcohol Help with Public Speaking?

man practices public speaking

Fear of public speaking is one of the most common phobias, affecting approximately 75% of the population.  Symptoms can range from mild anxiety to a full-blown panic attack, and many people who are forced to face their fear will use alcohol to get through the experience.  However, research has shown that despite having the ability to calm nerves, alcohol can impair a person’s ability to deliver a quality speech. The speaker may feel more at ease when standing in front of a group of people, but their thoughts are more likely come off scattered and disconnected, ultimately having the opposite effect of their intention.   People who tend to become extremely nervous or even panic before public speaking may believe that their anxiety will manifest in obvious external symptoms that everyone will notice and criticize.  If this was always true, it stands to reason that by reducing anxiety symptoms with alcohol, speech-giving would improve. However, one study that compared sober speakers to speakers that were given a couple of drinks prior to their speech found that audience members consistently rated the sober speakers better on eye contact, articulation, and visible nervousness.  All participants in the study reported the same fear of public speaking, so actual confidence was not a determining factor. Despite feeling extremely nervous, the sober speakers appeared less so. Drinking before public speaking may be more common in those who suffer from social anxiety.  Social anxiety and alcohol abuse are commonly co-occurring disorders, and people who use alcohol to alleviate symptoms of mental illness of any kind may be especially vulnerable to addiction.  Having a drink or two before a speech or presentation may not point to addiction on its own, but when combined with other behaviors, it can be a sign of unhealthy coping mechanisms that may lead to addiction in the future.  

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.