Social Anxiety and Alcohol Are a Dangerous Combination During the Holidays
Social anxiety and alcohol are a troublesome duo that no one ever wants to find together, but always seem to appear in the same place. It’s a bad combination where lots of people use alcohol as a crutch for social anxiety in an attempt to self-medicate. The consequence of doing so is often alcoholism. With all of the social functions that happen during the holiday season, people with social anxiety find themselves picking up a drink far more often than they should.
What is Social Anxiety?
If you have social anxiety, you know it. With this disorder, it isn’t just about clamming up in front of people or getting butterflies before a first date. It’s about symptoms that can range from bad to so severe they are debilitating. A person will often completely avoid going to a party or get together because of the discomfort they will feel.
The symptoms of social anxiety can even affect a person’s day to day life. It is currently said to affect over 13% of Americans. Going to work may be an issue. So might going to the grocery store, to school, to a kid’s play, or anywhere that involves being with others. The problem with this disorder is that once a person experiences a panic attack in a certain situation, they become convinced they will have one the next time they are there out and about. As a result, they avoid it altogether or often turn to alcohol or other drugs to self-medicate. During the holiday season, get-togethers and parties are usually more common place and drinking can become a near-everyday occurrence.
Social Anxiety and Alcohol Are A Common Combination
Social anxiety and alcohol use can be seen everywhere. From people who drink a little too much on a first date to the coworker who gets excessively drunk at the company holiday party, alcohol use and abuse is all around.
When a person first develops social anxiety, symptoms are usually mild. If that person drinks, they will have a beverage at the event and feel better with one drink. When a person when required increasingly more to feel “normal,” it is a problem. A person who abuses alcohol thinks of it as a substance that makes them feel good. It only gets harder and harder to feel that way without it.
Another part of social anxiety and alcohol is that the individual worries they are boring without alcohol. Many people have preconceived notions that they need alcohol in order to truly be themselves or engage with other people. The problem is that it is a very thin line between being the life of the party and being the embarrassment of it.
At holiday events, people have to interact with others they may not necessarily want to, like co-workers and distant family members. It’s hard to say no to most of these kinds of events without a good excuse, so the easiest solution seems like it is alcohol.
How to Avoid Excess Alcohol Use
The shift from social drinker to an alcoholic is a fast and slippery slope. As parties get closer and closer together during the holidays, a person on the wrong track will find themselves spending more time inebriated or recovering from excess drinking than anything else. They may cast aside responsibilities or jeopardized their career. All of these issues arise simply because the person isn’t able to function as they normally would.
To avoid this, the first thing is to acknowledge that social anxiety is the problem. There used to be a stigma related to anxiety, but today it is more commonplace and researchers understand more. Doctors have better solutions than ever before. Getting treated by a mental health professional is the best step a person can take to ensure they don’t turn to self-medication.
There are many things a person can do along with seeing a doctor to help with anxiety. First of all, staying away from alcohol is key. Alcohol actually makes anxiety far worse in the long run and isn’t worth it. Try things like yoga or meditation to help relax the mind and focus on the present. Living a healthy lifestyle helps too – getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and getting plenty of exercise and activity.
Don’t Let The Holidays Turn You Into An Alcoholic
As pressured as a person may feel to drink during this time of year it isn’t worth it. If a person drinks too much during this time, they may start off the next year with a nasty alcohol addiction, and no one wants that.
Social anxiety and alcohol don’t need to go together. Alcohol will just make the problem worse in the long run. Taking the time to manage symptoms of social anxiety will make drinking a much less appealing option for any event you go to.