If we’re being honest, facing a large crowd— especially of strangers, can be a bit intimidating. But when you add social anxiety into the mix? To some, the environment can be crippling. Therefore, many people turn to alcohol as a means of coping with their anxiety. Some social anxiety sufferers might assume that having a drink or two will take the edge off when, in fact, it can be quite negative in terms of overcoming social anxiety. What you might not realize is that alcohol can increase anxiety. Not to mention, if it works for you, you might be creating a new issue on top of managing your anxiety…

Overcoming Social Anxiety: How Alcohol Might Just Make it Worse

Increased Anxiety

One of the largest issues when it comes to using alcohol as a means of overcoming social anxiety, is that alcohol causes anxiety. Alcohol affects the brain in a number of ways. For one, it changes the levels of serotonin in the brain. For some, that change in chemicals can lead to relaxation. But for anxiety sufferers? Alcohol can increase that feeling of anxiousness. Furthermore, a large number of people begin to suffer from heightened anxiety a few hours, or the morning after, a night of drinking. In fact, so many people suffer from this that a term was coined to describe that feeling of anxiety after drinking: ‘hanxiety’

You’ll Build A Tolerance 

Drinking to avoid anxiety might lead to an issue where you need more and more to get the desired effect. When you begin using alcohol, you might find your relief quite quickly. However, the more you use it— the more you’ll need to reach the same result. As you are well-aware, the more you drink— the drunker you get, and the more likely you are to face that ‘hanxiety’ we were talking about. Keep in mind that even though you’re just trying to find a bit of relief form your anxiety, your BAC is still rising. Therefore, even though you meant to just manage your anxiety, have a good time, and then drive on home— you might find that you’re over the legal limit. Not to mention, using that alcohol to feel better can lead to a more serious issue…

Alcohol Dependence and Alcoholism

As you can see, using alcohol to overcome social anxiety might momentarily fix the problem, but worsens it in the long run. From post-drinking anxiety, to increasing tolerance, the effect on your body, and dependence— there are plenty of negatives. Nevertheless, many people use, and will continue to use, this method. In turn, many anxiety sufferers that use alcohol to overcome it, might find that they have a dependence on alcohol. It’s purpose might start as having a drink or two to get comfortable. However, it can quickly become more drinks, and more frequently. In short, instead of fixing a problem, you might just be creating more of them.

The unfortunate thing about social anxiety, is that it can come and go as it pleases. Some people experience it on occasion, and others experience it in every single social situation. No matter which way you handle social anxiety, alcohol is not the answer. It may take time, and trial and error, but you must find a method outside of alcohol. By doing so, you can begin to tackle one issue instead of adding to it…