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Social Anxiety and Addiction

While around 10 percent of the population struggles with some sort of addiction, the percentage of people with social anxiety disorder struggling with depression is closer to 20. That is, someone with social anxiety disorder is twice as likely as any random person to struggle with addiction.

Social anxiety disorder means you you experience intense anxiety in social situations. You may feel paralyzed, your heart may race, you may sweat, you might be unable to speak, or even have trouble breathing. After any social interaction, you may obsess over whether you said something foolish or offensive and relive the experience over and over, especially if you think something bad happened.

Naturally, anyone with social anxiety disorder wants to avoid social situations as much as possible, but it’s not always possible. If you want to keep a job and do other meaningful things in life, you will have to interact with others at least occasionally. If the prospect of that inevitable interaction is unbearable, you might turn to drugs or alcohol to help you cope.

Different drugs offer relief from social anxiety in different ways. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and allows you to have a conversation without over-analyzing every word. Drugs like cocaine, amphetamines, and MDMA can make you feel more confident. The problem is that these are temporary fixes. You still wake up the next day–or in some cases, three or four days later–and obsess over whether you said or did something stupid. Your anxiety kicks into overdrive and you need more of whatever it was to get you through your next social encounter.

This is a common path to addiction. Unfortunately, self-medicating does not solve the underlying problems. Typically, people with social anxiety disorder have distorted beliefs about themselves, about the consequences of social missteps, or both. They may lack certain social skills, either because they never learned them or they aren’t capable of learning them without help.

Whatever the case, drugs and alcohol will never solve the problem. If you suffer from social anxiety disorder and addiction, it’s important to find a treatment program that can treat both. You might want to find a smaller facility, where you won’t have to deal with a lot of new people, or at least one where you can have some privacy. After treatment, it’s a good idea to continue seeing a therapist to work on your social anxiety to make sure it doesn’t drag you back into addictive behavior.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and social anxiety, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox safely and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at to learn more.