What Are the Risks of Turning to Alcohol to Treat Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety can make it difficult to enjoy public events and even short lunch dates with family and friends. This mental health condition can interfere with many aspects of an individual’s life. Some people may turn to alcohol to treat social anxiety. After all, friends may suggest drinking to relax a little, which makes it seem like a normal response. To be sure, peer pressure can make it harder for individuals to say no to the one thing that helps them feel comfortable in social settings.

However, alcohol is not an answer for addressing social anxiety. Instead, it’s wise to seek professional mental health and addiction treatment. Treatment with 12 South Recovery can help individuals facing challenges with social anxiety learn the skills needed to comfortably interact with others. The 12 South Recovery relapse prevention program can assist individuals in maintaining long-term abstinence from alcoholic beverages.

What Is Social Anxiety?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), there are many different types of anxiety, one of them being social anxiety. Social anxiety is defined as an extreme fear of judgment, being watched, and being scrutinized by others. Persistent feelings of intense fear can significantly interfere with an individual’s work performance, academic success, and ability to complete daily tasks.

Living with social anxiety can make it difficult for an individual to keep stable long-term relationships. This common condition can also make it harder for an individual to make new connections with others in social settings. This difficulty often leads to social isolation. For example, an individual facing problems with social anxiety may strictly avoid dating even though they would like to have a partner.

Social Anxiety: Symptoms

According to the NIMH, performing or simply being around others can cause an individual to experience several different symptoms. Everyone may experience different signs and symptoms related to social anxiety, but the most common symptom is nervousness. Further symptoms may include:

  • Sweating, trembling, and blushing
  • Increased heart palpitations
  • Blank thoughts, word block, and losing track of thoughts
  • A feeling of knots in the stomach
  • Sudden urges for a bowel movement
  • Speaking with a high tone of voice
  • Having a rigid body posture
  • Difficulty making eye contact
  • Feeling self-conscious
  • Avoiding social settings

Risks of Self-Medicating With Alcohol to Treat Social Anxiety

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), social anxiety disorder affects approximately two percent to an estimated 13% of the United States Population. The NIAAA explains that about one-fifth of individuals diagnosed with social anxiety were also found to be facing challenges with alcohol use disorder (AUD). One theory suggests that some individuals drink alcohol to alleviate social pressure and fears of judgment from others. Some individuals may feel that self-medicating their social anxiety with alcohol is effective despite discouragement from mental health professionals. Clinical professionals do not support alcohol abuse. Risks of alcohol abuse may include:

  • Injuries such as auto accidents, falls, drowning
  • Violence such as domestic abuse, sexual assault, suicide
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Miscarriage
  • Mental health problems
  • Cancer
  • High blood pressure
  • Relationship and social problems
  • Weakened immune system
  • AUD

Effective Ways to Treat Social Anxiety Without Turning to Alcohol

Everyday life with social anxiety can make an individual feel that their home is the ultimate safe haven. Although isolation can feel very comfortable for some individuals, being alone for too long can cause co-occurring mental health conditions such as depression.

Spending time outdoors, walking trails, or playing outdoor games can be a good outlet for someone with social anxiety. As much as someone may feel like avoiding social activities, participating in sober activities with others can help them abstain from alcohol. What’s more, pressure from others who enjoy drinking can make it difficult to discontinue drinking alcohol. For that reason, spending time with others with a similar sober-living mindset can provide encouragement. Someone may feel more motivated to stay healthy and focused on positive areas in life without negative substance exposures or triggers that can increase cravings.

Getting a sufficient amount of sleep can also help an individual feel more mentally balanced. It is also a good idea to avoid caffeinated beverages such as teas, coffee, and sodas, which can worsen anxiety. Avoiding foods that contain chocolate can also help. Overall, following a nutritious diet and limiting stimulants and alcohol can improve one’s social anxiety.

Therapy With 12 South Recovery to Treat Social Anxiety

Practicing a self-care routine in combination with attending therapy sessions with 12 South Recovery can greatly increase one’s potential for recovery from AUD and a co-occurring social anxiety diagnosis. The facility’s services can help individuals learn the tools needed to gain confidence when interacting with others in social settings.

12 South Recovery has various mental health and addiction treatment options that provide support for those who need it most. Group therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and holistic therapy are effective treatments. These modalities can provide individuals with effective coping mechanisms and strategies to appropriately respond to uncomfortable triggers, alcohol cravings, and intense fears of judgment from others. The 12 South alcohol addiction treatment program offers detox, therapy, and aftercare options for individuals who need additional support in their recovery.

There are many risks involved with drinking alcohol to treat social anxiety. Professional psychotherapy can provide individuals with social anxiety the appropriate tools needed to comfortably interact with others. 12 South Recovery is a leader in Orange County mental health treatment, providing evidence-based and holistic therapies to support whole-person wellness. Here at 12 South, our team provides compassionate care gives each of our patients the tools they need to battle their unique problems and recover on their own terms. Sometimes it takes uncovering the root of social anxiety to fully heal and move forward. If you or a loved one are facing problems with social anxiety, call 12 South Recovery at (888) 830-8374 to learn more about our comprehensive services.

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