A number of mental health problems are associated with alcohol addiction and social anxiety is no exception. People with social anxiety can be particularly prone problem drinking because alcohol is commonly used to loosen up in social situations.
It can temporarily ease someone's social fears and inhibitions that prevent them from communicating with others. Those dealing with mild social anxiety may drink frequently to be more functional at parties but people suffering from social anxiety disorder may have a more serious risk of developing an addiction.
It can be fairly common for people with this disorder to use alcohol to treat their symptoms and eventually need treatment for an alcohol abuse problem.
Drinking Socially and Easing Anxiety
While social anxiety disorder is not the most common mental health problem, with only 7 percent of the population suffering from the issue, it is not unusual for people with social anxiety to drink excessively to cope with their symptoms.
About 28 percent of people with social anxiety disorder also suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence and the connection between the two problems can be more common among women. Even people with some symptoms of social anxiety who have not been diagnosed with the disorder tend to develop issues with alcohol addiction.
The connection is not surprising as alcohol is known to relieve some symptoms of social anxiety at least temporarily. Drinking can make people with social anxiety feel more comfortable and less inhibited when talking to others.
They may begin to turn to alcohol as a solution to their disorder and begin developing an addiction. Unfortunately, drinking excessively can actually increase anxiety, irritability and depression in the long run making the symptoms of a person's anxiety disorder much worse.
Social Anxiety Disorder and Addiction
Most people experience some minor symptoms of "social anxiety" from time to time but still remain functional and healthy but for those with the more severe symptoms that characterize social anxiety disorder it can be a serious mental health problem. People with this disorder have a strong and persistent fear in social or performance situations.
They often fear that they will act in an embarrassing way or humiliate themselves in front of others. It is a disorder that can be debilitating and have negative effects on lifestyle, career and relationships.
Social anxiety in itself may not necessarily lead to problem drinking. A strong percentage of people with the disorder are also alcoholics but not everyone with this mental health issue turns to alcohol as the answer. Studies on social anxiety and drinking behavior have shown that the people with certain expectations of how drinking will affect them tend to drink more frequently.
Anxiety Fueled Addiction
Those that believe drinking will make them more relaxed and sociable tend to be more likely to drink in social situations. A combination of social anxiety and certain expectations about how drinking will affect them can contribute to the development of an alcohol abuse problem.
Socially anxious individuals who believe drinking will have positive effects on their behavior may begin to drink frequently and even to excess. They may not understand that there are negative effects of drinking as well or they may develop a sense of denial where they cannot see the destructive impact that alcohol has on them.
While it may help socially anxious people cope with their symptoms when they are attending parties or social gatherings, overall alcohol will have many negative consequences on anyone suffering from mental health problems. People with social anxiety who drink excessively will need to get professional help to treat both their addiction and their disorder simultaneously for a better result.