When people are afraid that they will act strangely or embarrass themselves at social events, they may suffer from social anxiety. They may even be diagnosed with a severe social anxiety disorder that prevents them from enjoying healthy relationships and lucrative careers. If you suffer from this disorder, you may also be more likely to be diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder. The connection between the two disorders is deep and complex, and therapists are still studying the most effective treatments. The Role of Expectations Many of the patients who suffer from social anxiety turn to alcohol to help them cope with their fears, but there are different reasons behind their choices. Some people believe that a few drinks will help them relax so that they are not so nervous once they attend a social event, while others use alcohol to boost their confidence so that they feel more comfortable around their friends. However, these same patients may avoid drinking at occasions where they believe that their consumption of alcohol will be socially unacceptable. These expectations play a large role in how much and how often a patient turns to alcohol to help them with their fears of being around others. Eliminating the Link When you drink to ease your social anxiety, you only see the benefits of alcohol rather than the negative effects that it has on your behavior. This can make it difficult to break the link between social anxiety and an alcohol use disorder. In order to overcome the connection between the two disorders, then you may need to seek therapy. Your therapist may encourage you to find an alternative to help you feel better about entering a roomful of people, and he may prescribe antidepressants that will alleviate many of the symptoms of social anxiety. You may also want to try cognitive behavioral therapy or other techniques that will help you retrain the way you think. This will allow you to adjust your expectations and perceptions of an event so that you no longer feel as anxious or nervous about being in public. There is a strong link between alcohol abuse and social anxiety disorders. If you feel that you are using alcohol to help you appear more likeable or comfortable in large groups, then you may want visit with a therapist to identify your fears and find ways to cope with them.
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