Social anxiety is the fear of situations that involve interacting with other people. It is also worrying about being negatively judged and evaluated by others. This disorder is chronic and causes problems in almost all areas of a person’s life.
Since alcohol can reduce stress, it is a quick and easy solution ….
Correct. Occasionally unwinding with alcohol isn’t necessarily dangerous if your doctor approves. The problem is that once you start drinking, you can build a tolerance to the de-stressing effects of alcohol. This
can make anxiety and stress even more difficult to cope with.
According to Healthline: At first, drinking can reduce fears and take your mind off your troubles. It can even help you feel less shy. You might experience a boost in mood, and the overall result is relaxation. In fact, the effects of alcohol can be similar to those of anti-anxiety medications.
It’s easy to understand that people with social anxiety will use alcohol to reduce their uncomfortable feelings. There are two reasons. First, it might reduce the negative feelings that a social situation brings. For example, a person may have to speak to their team at a morning meeting. They get through the meeting just fine. However, they feel embarrassed and uncomfortable the rest of the day. A few cocktails after work can provide temporary relief from these feelings.
A second reason anxiety sufferers will use alcohol — it helps them cope with the actual situation. In this scenario, the person will have a cocktail or two before the presentation. The relaxing effect of the alcohol helps them get through the presentation without feeling nervous or self-conscious. In general – alcohol helps people socialize with others more easily.
Here’s the “Catch”
Long-term use of alcohol leads to many other problems. The risks out-weigh the benefits. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America those with anxiety disorders may find that alcohol or other substances can make their anxiety symptoms worse. And they are two to three times more likely to have an alcohol or other substance abuse disorder at some point in their lives than the general population.
Anxiety Disorder or Substance Abuse: Which Comes First?
Most people with alcohol or substance abuse and an anxiety disorder experience them independently, but having both can be a vicious cycle. In general, the alcohol problem comes after the social anxiety.
What causes Social Anxiety
Most of the time, it starts when a person is young. Like other anxiety-based problems, social anxiety most likely develops because of a combination of four factors:
(1) It could be partly due to the genes. Some people are born a bit shy and tend to be sensitive in new situations. Most people who develop social anxiety have always had a shy personality.
(2) Behaviors learned from role models (especially parents). A person’s naturally shy nature can be increased by what is learned from the people around them. If parents react by over-protecting a child who is shy, the child won’t have a chance to get used to new situations. Over time, shyness can build into social anxiety.
3) Life events and experiences. If people born with a cautious nature have stressful experiences, it can make them even more scared and shy. Feeling pushed to interact in ways they don’t feel ready for, can make it more likely for a fearful person to develop social anxiety.
(4) People who constantly receive criticism, may start to expect disapproval. Being teased will also make people who are already shy retreat into a corner. They’ll be scared of making a mistake or disappointing someone.
Social anxiety is generally treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both. Family and friends are especially important for people who are dealing with social anxiety. The right support from a few key people can make all the difference. The bottom line — there is a fix. However, dealing with social anxiety will take time and commitment.
If you want some additional information on social anxiety. Here is a link to a quick fact sheet.