Social Anxiety is a disorder characterized by an intense fear of being judged or ridiculed in public. While everyone has probably felt nervous when delivering a speech or auditioning for a part in a play, people with Social Anxiety Disorder experience such profound anxiety that it negatively impacts the person’s quality of life.
In recovery, it is critical to learn ways to manage social anxiety. There is a known link between substance use and social anxiety. These patients use substances as a means of calming nerves prior to being in public. In fact, according to the article “Social Anxiety Disorder and Alcohol Use,” authors Band and Randall found that 20% of those with Social Anxiety Disorder also struggled with a co-occurring Alcohol Use Disorder.
While the calming effects of alcohol or a prescription sedative may have helped reduce anxiety symptoms in social situations, it is imperative that patients learn new substance-free solutions to address these issues.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety disorder is the umbrella term for several mental health disorders, including Social Anxiety Disorder. Someone that suffers from social Anxiety Disorder typically has an intense fear of social events and interactions. This can include a fear of mundane activities, like eating a meal in public. Clinically, Social Anxiety refers to having an irrational fear of being critiqued or even ridiculed by others within a social setting.
Anxiety generally involves having irrational feelings of dread, fear, or worry, with each type of anxiety disorder featuring unique symptoms based on the subtype. Approximately 40 million Americans struggle with an anxiety disorder.
Signs of Social Anxiety
People who suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder may experience a great deal of emotional distress throughout the day. Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder can include:
- Intense worry about upcoming social events
- Excessive fear of being judged by others
- Extreme concern with being humiliated in public
- Shortness of breath
- Blushing easily
- Upset stomach and nausea
- Racing heart
- Feeling faint
When someone struggles with Social Anxiety in their daily life, they may make certain unhealthy adaptations to avoid public embarrassment. One of the most common of these is to self-isolate, and simply avoid social events altogether. This can have a profoundly negative effect on the individual’s career, relationships, and overall quality of life.
5 Tips for Managing Social Anxiety
While in treatment for Substance Use Disorder, therapists help patients with Social Anxiety develop healthy stress-reducing techniques to assist in recovery. For someone with co-occurring Social Anxiety Disorder, avoiding a relapse, which are so often triggered by stress, can often hinge on accessing these new coping skills.
Consider these five tips for managing Social Anxiety in recovery:
- Practice Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a handy tool for coping with feelings of fear and worry. Instead of ruminating about the things that could go wrong at the event, learn how to direct your thoughts toward the present moment.
- Be Prepared. Learn some details about the event in advance, such as attire, seating, and agenda. Being mentally prepared can reduce some of the fear of the unknown.
- Use Deep-Breathing Techniques. Deep breathing can help ease the symptoms of anxiety, producing an overall calming effect.
- Take a Buddy Along. It might help to take a friend along with you to the event who can provide a buffer. This can help you feel safer and less vulnerable in social settings.
As you navigate recovery, don’t allow Social Anxiety Disorder to prevent you from living your best life. Try these tips and enjoy making friends and having a good time.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and is accredited by The Joint Commission. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, and provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle – “everything for recovery” – reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.