Social Anxiety and Substance Abuse
While it has been widely known that social anxiety and substance abuse are commonly linked, researchers recently revealed that initial drug use has to do with having social anxiety in the first place. The discovery could ultimately form better treatment methods for those who are suffering with social anxiety.
One of the key points that researchers and psychologists have picked up on include the fact that aside from food, water, and shelter, people need love, social belonging, and acceptance from others. Unfortunately, if these basic needs are not met, then it could lead to subsequent drug use, as well as anxiety.
In an experiment conducted, “almost half of the teenagers in the study experienced some form of social anxiety.” The experiment focused mainly on kids who had problems with the idea of fitting in, ultimately resulting in them responding well to exercises that helped them lower their social anxiety. The study found that nearly 15 percent of the total participants experienced social anxiety disorder.
Moreover, the researchers found that participants who were abusing drugs or alcohol turned to either substance as a means to alleviate their anxiety, as well as to take their mind off of their worries. One of the most widely abused drugs for teenagers in the study was, unfortunately, heroin.
Lead author Maria Pagano, Ph. D., believes that this is because “a sense of belonging is important to live sober and to thrive, and 12-step service offers a venue for those impaired by social anxiety.”
It has been proven that those who attend a treatment center for substance abuse while receiving treatment for social anxiety have a 50 percent less chance of relapsing or ending up in jail six months after being released from therapy. Treatment centers such as Treatment Alternatives in Boca Raton, offer dual-diagnosis treatment for anxiety coupled with substance abuse.
Unsure of whether or not you suffer from a form of social anxiety? Social anxiety is typically defined as a person who has unreasonable fears when it comes to social situations. “The sufferer is terrified that others will be critical, feel unprepared for the simplest tasks, or may lack experience in social situations.” If left untreated, anxiety can develop into a panic attack and exasperate an already developed substance abuse problem.
In order to prevent a co-occurring disorder from worsening.