Is There a Link Between Social Anxiety Disorder and Drug Use?

Is There a Link Between Social Anxiety Disorder and Drug Use?

Social Anxiety Disorder, also known as SAD, affects those who are particularly vulnerable to develop substance abuse problems. SAD affects up to 7% of adult Americans, and victims are unable to function effectively or be comfortable in many different social situations.

Many symptoms of SAD manifest themselves physically, such as excessive sweating, blushing, rapid pulse rate, pains in the chest and stomach, problems with breathing, vertigo, and a “brain fog” that makes it difficult for the person to think or focus. However, these physical symptoms are derived from the extreme anxiety that some people face, due to deep-seated self-esteem issues. Thus, SAD sufferers are constantly worried about how they will perform in a social environment, struggle with forming interpersonal relationships, and even have difficulty initiating casual conversations. They also tend to second guess everything they have said or done. It is hard to live their lives that way.

Where SAD Begins

For someone struggling on a daily basis with self-doubt and crippling anxiety, drugs or alcohol can seem like the perfect medication. For example, consuming alcohol lowers inhibitions, thus blanketing anxiety and feelings of nervousness. Marijuana, can relieve stress, and reduce the feelings of self-consciousness. Going further, taking stimulants, like meth, ecstasy, or cocaine, can provide the user with an immediate energy boost, and raised self-confidence. With some drugs in their system, SAD victims start feeling better.

However, drugs and alcohol are not the answer or the cure. Self-medicating for anxiety relief is nothing but a temporary, short term fix, and one that can lead to addiction, and a host of other problems. And when the effects of the drugs wear off, the victim is left feeling worse, and will likely go back, over and over, to the drugs in an effort to recapture those feelings of euphoria and empowerment. This will lead to tolerance for the drug, and inevitably, to addiction.

How it Impacts People 

A big issue here is that, by their very nature, SAD sufferers are secretive, maybe loners, and not outgoing. This makes it very easy for them to hide their addiction. Because they already have feelings of shame and inadequacy, it can make them unable to confide in friends and family about their addiction struggles, and even more unlikely to seek help. That puts a lot of pressure on their loved ones to identify symptoms of not only SAD but drug abuse.

Compassion Matters

Should you find that you have identified these symptoms in a loved one, handle it with extreme care. Don’t involve more people than necessary, and only those who the SAD sufferer would trust the most. Provide constant positive reinforcement, and come up with solutions, not merely empty advice. A SAD sufferer will not respond well to criticism, or confrontation, as in their minds, this is only confirming their worst fears about their self-esteem and shortages in character.

The people dealing with SAD need compassion and understanding more than anything else. Unfortunately, this is what is most denied to them, mainly because their friends and family are at a loss over their behavior, and don’t even know that their condition might exist. People with SAD might seem like all they want is to be left alone, but the fact is that they need interpersonal relationships and human connections as much as you and I do. 

Drug use and social anxiety disorder can co-occur, which is why we provide dual diagnosis treatment. We are located in beautiful Laguna Beach. Call us to find out how we can help you navigate addiction recovery: 888-981-4295