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What’s the Connection Between Social Anxiety and Substance Abuse?

Social Anxiety Disorder and Drug Abuse

What’s the connection?

Social anxiety disorder is a chronic mental illness that is characterized by feelings of nervousness during social interactions. It is a common mental health condition that is often part of a dual diagnosis that includes substance abuse.

For many of us, the relationship between social anxiety disorder and substance abuse is apparent. Were you uncomfortable in your own skin until the first time you got drunk or high? Share you experience in the comments below!

The connection between social anxiety disorder and substance abuse is strong. In fact, The Promises of Alcoholics Anonymous states that “if we are painstaking about this phase of our development,” fear of people will leave us. So, there is a definite link between social anxiety and substance abuse.

What are the Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder?

Recovery from social anxiety and substance abuse is possible!

Sufferers of social anxiety experience feelings of fear, embarrassment, and anxiety when interacting with others. Common symptoms of social anxiety disorder include:

  • Fear of being judged in social situations
  • Worrying about feeling embarrassed at social events
  • Dreading social events and the physical reactions they may cause (sweating, trembling, anxiety)
  • Avoiding social events, speaking in public, or being the center of attention
  • Analyzing and criticizing oneself after a social interaction

Like any mental illness, social anxiety is often misunderstood and stigmatized. As a result, it’s important to remember that social anxiety disorder is an illness. It should be met with the same compassion as physical diseases, like cancer or diabetes. When it isn’t, it distress to someone who is already in emotional pain.

When social anxiety and addiction occur at the same time, recovery from both is possible and life-changing. Addiction centers, like Breakthrough Recovery Outreach, commonly treat the two illnesses together with great success.

Treating Dual Diagnosis.

When Social Anxiety Disorder and Substance Abuse Occur Simultaneously.

If you’re new to recovery from addiction, you may receive a diagnosis of social anxiety disorder. For many of us, it’s the first time anyone has put a name to our feelings. Until I was diagnosed, I thought my inability to cope with social situations made me a failure. Knowing I had an illness that could be treated offered great hope.

Treatment for social anxiety disorder includes:

  • Medication
  • Therapy
  • Mindfulness/Meditation
  • Nutrition

Substance abuse treatment often includes:

  • Detox from alcohol or drugs
  • Medication to assist with temporary withdrawal symptoms
  • Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment
  • Residential Recovery
  • Attending AA and NA Meetings

When social anxiety disorder and substance abuse are treated together, the healing potential is tremendous. Trust your treatment team and those of us who have recovered. Work for it, and recovery will be yours.

Managing Social Anxiety Disorder in Early Recovery

Battling social anxiety disorder and substance abuse has its own challenges.

As we work towards breaking free of our addiction, we face situations that may trigger our social anxiety. Attending residential treatment and Twelve Step meetings include becoming part of a group. It’s challenging in the beginning but gets easier over time.

At the start of my journey in Adult Residential Recovery, I was very uncomfortable with all the people around me. By the time I left 18 months later, I was a social butterfly, and can now tell my story to a large group (hello, internet!) If that miracle can happen for me, it can happen for you!

During the initial phase of recovery, please hang on. Remember, feelings are temporary. Look for ways to feel less overwhelmed. Sit at the back of the room during meetings or go to meetings that break off into small groups. Get a sponsor because that one-on-one relationship is crucial to recovery. Set a goal to make one friend in recovery. Sufferers of social anxiety have crack the door to the world we fear open. Kick it until it opens. Once it does, the light floods in!

Have a Social Anxiety and Substance Abuse Breakthrough!

Lose that fear of people and start a journey to recovery today. If you or someone you know has social anxiety disorder and stuggles with substance abuse, our team is here to help you.

Contact us at (770) 746-9806 and begin your journey to freedom today.



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