Alcohol – The Cure for Social Anxiety

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

Social Anxiety Association
Learn more at the Social Anxiety Association website.

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.

Phobia and Addiction
Anxiety and Addictions – what’s the connection?

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.
Our 800RecoveryHub site offers free and confidential help

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.

Social Phobia
Social Phobia and Social Anxiety are often used interchangeably.

7 thoughts on “Alcohol – The Cure for Social Anxiety

  1. Reblogged this on Demonic Divas and commented:
    This is a very thought provoking and excellent article. I come from a country where it’s almost a rite of passage into adulthood to begin to get legless at a very young age indeed. I was 14 when I first got drunk (to this day the smell of Southern Comfort turns my stomach). It’s also ingrained into British culture, going to the pub, meeting friends, grabbing something to eat. Weekends away hiking with various pub stops along the way. Drinks after work almost every night. Weekends out to the club, doing shot after shot of tequila. And this would be after a day on the beach drinking beer. And as I got older, cook dinner for friends and bring a bottle. Have a glass of wine when I got in. Once in a while is fine. For me, this was turning into every day around a bottle.

    My life revolved around alcohol. When I was manic I wouldn’t eat. I dropped a huge amount of weight and my calorie intake came from booze and my staying power from cigarette after cigarette. I don’t actually know how I held a job down, looking back. I would never have called myself an alcoholic but I was on the slippery slope. I never needed a drink to get through the day but boy did I look forward to the one I could have as a reward for making it through.

    What I didn’t realise at the time was the crippling paranoia and anxiety I had the next day was caused by alcohol. I would wake up and not be able to physically move as I was bombarded by all the supposedly hideous things I had done the night before. Wave after wave of self – hatred would hit me, making the anxiety even worse.

    It wasn’t till I met DH, who has never had alcohol aside from once and hated it, and moved to a country where alcohol is not so ingrained in the fabric of social life, that I realised I had a bit of an issue. With my dependency on it to have a good time, and not being able to cope the next morning. Between living here and then being pregnant, I don’t think I have had a drink drink for nearly two years. The two times I did I was a walking ball of paranoia the next few days – it didn’t just last one day.

    These days, I do enjoy the odd glass of very good red or white wine. I have a weakness for New Zealand red in particular! I do notice that, even after one glass, it makes my mental health problems much worse. I wake up and I cannot breath I am in the grip of such severe anxiety. So is it worth it? For me, not really. It means I can squander those extra calories on something else 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Seeing how the link between alcohol use and social anxiety will hopefully encourage people to look beyond the behaviour and reduce some of the inclination to be judgemental when working with alcohol dependence.

    Great post with helpful links thank you.! TTS

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Like my father I suffered from severe Social Anxiety/Phobia. I would often dry heave before school in the morning, did not enjoy slumber parties, book reports or anything social. My father never mentioned he had the same problem until a few years ago. I started drinking at 17 and didn’t stop until I was about 37. Anxiety and Fear ruled my life. The biggest regrets I have are allowing other people’s words and comments keep me from seeing what I already knew. I am worthy of help and love. I should have asked for it sooner. All I can do is move on from here. I do listen to my father because he thinks I’m great. ( I make him cookies so it’s kind of a bribe) It does get better. While you drink your brain puts up a wall blocking serotonin from reaching the brain. As the alcohol starts to leave your body the serotonin comes flooding in causing you to feel anxious and guilty. This is part of the Hangover feeling. I probably spelled things wrong but you get the point. It made sense to me when a Dr. explained it that way. All I could think was ” You are such an idiot” no wonder why I felt worse. You can’t fix what you don’t know. Thanks. this Blog has been so supportive and kind. And I do ramble.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In my brain fog I neglected to mention my father is a recovering alcoholic also. He’s been sober for about 33 years. My mother was an alcoholic too and was sober when she passed several years ago. She was very social and outgoing, sober or not. I’ve been sober 6 years now. A work in progress. Something important, if you slip up it is not the end of the world. It’s one day. What’s important is what you decide to do after. Get back up? Or stay down? Just don’t let others make you feel ashamed about it to the point you want to stay down. Like I said it’s one day, you can start again. It took me many do overs to achieve 6 years straight. I don’t think this is discussed enough and it should be. Shame and guilt are horrible feelings to carry around and leave you stuck.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah it’s such a family disease. I was given up for adoption, so I found it interesting to learn about my birth family in my 20’s. The whole tree is riddled with addiction and alcoholism. There are only two of us not dying. Me – because I got sober. And a brother who was scared “straight” and never tried even a sip of alcohol. When I met him the first question was “are you an alcoholic”? His answer “maybe but I don’t want to find out”
        Thank you for your comments and thank you for stopping by.


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