How Social Anxiety Disorders Can Effect an Addiction
Imagine walking around carrying out the day to day activities, but feeling on edge and nervous. You break out in a cold sweat when trying to talk to others and the idea of immersing yourself into a crowded space makes your heart skip a beat. This is how a person with social anxiety disorder feels all the time, even when there are no threats of something happening to them. The discomfort and constant social challenges they are faced with can make this person want to retreat into their home leaving the world completely outside. Loneliness, isolation, shame and fear can stack up on top of the already encompassing feelings of anxiety. To try and cope with all of this, they may turn to drugs or alcohol. With each passing day, their use becomes more and more frequent leading to a tolerance and eventually an addiction.
It’s difficult to live on the edge like this. It can cause feelings of frustration and confusion. Family members may have no idea what is causing the substance abuse and the addict may feel as if their anxiety is worsening as it so happens.
If you or a loved one is feeling like this and are not familiar with social anxiety disorders and addiction, it’s important to become educated about the topic to help you better manage the situation and get the right kind of treatment.
Understanding Social Anxiety Disorders
Up to 40 million people in the U.S. alone suffer from anxiety disorders. As the third largest mental health problem in the world, it has a profuse impact on a person’s life.
Social anxiety is the fear of social situations or interaction with other people. As a chronic disorder, it does not come and go, but rather is always present. A person suffering from social anxiety disorder may be stressed or fearful of how they appear to others. They may have concerns about negative judgment or being subjected to embarrassing situations. Social gatherings, parties, conferences, meetings or public talks are particularly difficult for a person with social anxiety disorder and lead to a rapid heartbeat, an increase in blood pressure, sweating, dizziness or fainting.
How people view a person with social anxiety disorder
Often a person with a social anxiety disorder is seen by others as being shy, withdrawn, quiet, nervous, unfriendly or even weird. They may frequently get odd stares or looks and disheartening comments which only add to their anxiety. If a person suffered from this anxiety disorder during their childhood, they may have been made fun of or left out of group interaction.
Paradoxically, these people normally do want to make friends and get involved with social interaction. The social anxiety keeps them from doing so; this is why help is crucial. Unfortunately, many people who are aware of their social anxiety do not tell others about it. Friends or family may have no idea or may make up excuses about their behavior. This can lead to immobilization, reclusiveness or depression.
Social Anxiety Disorder Can Lead to Drug and Alcohol Abuse
People who suffer from social anxiety disorder have a high risk of substance abuse or addiction. This is because they turn to alcohol or drugs as a way of relaxing their nervousness and/or boosting their confidence. This is especially common when they are obligated to attend social situations. Likewise, to cope with their anxiety and perhaps depression which has resulted from it, drugs or alcohol use may be implored as a means of escape. This self medication to overcome these feelings can lead to abuse and addiction. Moreover, it reinforces the anxiety and greatly increases the potential for panic attacks, severe depression and an intense battle of mental, psychological and emotional troubles.
Getting Help for an Addiction and Social Anxiety Disorder
When a person suffers from social anxiety and addiction, they are said to have a co-occurring disorder. More than likely, one is feeding off of the other and without treating both, the chances of relapsing is high.
Both addiction and social anxiety can be treated through therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy, private counselling, meditation and yoga. Each of these (as well as others) will help a person to acknowledge their own struggles and find healthy ways to overcome them. Moreover, through specialized tools and techniques, triggers which could cause the anxiety or cravings can be alleviated in an appropriate and timely manner.
Ultimately, if left untreated social anxiety disorders can have severe consequences. If you or someone you know has an addiction to drugs or alcohol and suffers from social anxiety, a rehab program may be right for you. Serenity Chiang Rai Rehab is a small private facility in the North of Thailand. Nestled in a quiet natural area, our drug and alcohol rehab center treats co-occurring disorders in both men and women. Comprising of Western trained addiction specialists and an in-depth approach to treatment, we can help to reduce or stop the undesired behaviors associated with social anxiety and addiction; thereby lead you to live a healthy, sober life.