Social Phobias and Substance Abuse

If Elvis Presley was right and life is a stage in which every person must play a part, people with social phobias are always preparing for their moment in the spotlight. Each interaction with another person becomes a test and a challenge, and failure seems as though it’s always right around the corner. Even minor tasks that wouldn’t cause someone to feel any nervousness at all can be crippling to someone with social phobia, and in time, people with this condition may turn to drugs and alcohol in order to find some kind of normalcy in life. It’s understandable, but it doesn’t have to be inevitable. With help, people with social phobias can get better, and people who have developed addictions can also learn to keep from leaning on addictive drugs to manage their disease.

Constant Embarrassment

People with social phobias often struggle with tasks such as:

  • Speaking to a supervisor
  • Ordering items at a restaurant
  • Giving a speech
  • Signing their names in front of a bank official
  • Walking into a room when everyone else is seated

These are minor tasks that an average person is likely asked to complete a hundred times each month, and in most cases, the moments pass by with no problems at all. But people with social phobia may remain convinced that they’ll do something amiss or say something wrong in these moments, and they may worry that they’ll be teased, humiliated or ridiculed. The fears may be illogical, but they may also seem routine to someone with this condition, as social phobias tend to develop during youth, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Some people with this condition don’t know that there’s any other way to live.

Substance Use and Abuse

Addictive drugs can provide people with a chemical boost that allows them to feel strong and powerful, capable of overcoming their fears and dealing with the issue at hand. For people with social phobia, this can be incredibly appealing. Alcohol also seems to be a draw for men with social phobia, according to the Mayo Clinic, as this substance can sedate and soothe, delivering an artificial feeling of calm and control. Unfortunately, addictive substances only deliver a fleeting kind of relief, and when the substances have worn away, the person may feel the need to take them in again, just to make life seem normal once more. Soon, people may be locked in a cycle of dysfunction, substance abuse and addiction. It can be hard for people like this to see a solution ahead.

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Moving Forward

In a treatment program for social phobia and addiction, experts provide counseling that can help people to manage their anxiety, and in group sessions, people can practice their skills and learn that their social interactions don’t have to be fraught with nervousness and pain. In these sessions, people might also learn how addictive substances really make the mental health problem worse, and they can learn how to manage their cravings for drugs without relapsing when nervousness strikes.

This is the sort of program we provide at Alta Mira. We blend our therapies for mental health issues and addiction, so people can learn about both their conditions at the same time, and perhaps heal in a more complete manner as a result. Please call us to talk about your needs.