Mental health and substance use are often linked. People who struggle with anxiety or depression may self-medicate to alleviate symptoms. It is estimated that 34% of the population will suffer from some form of anxiety during their lifetime. That is over a hundred million anxious Americans. Social anxiety disorder is a common form of chronic anxiety that affects 15 million adults in the United States and nearly 9% of all children and teens. The good news is that there are ways to treat anxiety successfully.
At Serenity Light Recovery, we serve as a beacon of hope for those who suffer from social anxiety and help get them on the path to recovery. Find out more about our mental health treatment options to help you or a loved one regain your hope that recovery is possible by calling 855.658.6109.
What Is Social Anxiety?
People with a social anxiety disorder are often extremely nervous or uncomfortable dealing with new people, groups, or crowds.
The following can be extremely difficult for people who suffer from social anxiety:
- Meeting new people
- Expressing opinions
- Participating in social occasions (parties, dinners)
- Talking on the phone
- Being assertive
- Interacting with co-workers and friends
Their anxiety prevents them from engaging in social situations. Their isolation increases and can lead to other symptoms, such as depression. To ease their anxiety, many people self-medicate. Have you ever heard of alcohol or other drugs referred to as a “social lubricant?” Substances such as alcohol, marijuana, and opiates can ease anxiety and make social interactions possible.
As soon as someone turns to a controlled substance to function, the red flag has been raised. When the two problems exist together—substance abuse and anxiety (or other mental health diagnoses)—it is referred to as a dual diagnosis.
Mental Health and Dual Diagnosis
The links between mental health problems and substance abuse are well known. When a mental health issue is untreated, the co-occurring substance abuse typically worsens. Conversely, as alcohol or drug abuse escalates, mental health complications inevitably increase as well.
There is about a 20% overlap between anxiety and substance use disorder. In other words, one in five people with anxiety also abuse drugs, and one in five people addicted to drugs or alcohol have an underlying anxiety disorder.
Treating anxiety early is critical to helping sufferers avoid substance misuse and worse.
There are many processes and practices that can alleviate anxiety symptoms. Some are lifestyle adjustments, and others involve seeking professional help. Below are just a few of the ways people can effectively address their social anxiety.
- Mindfulness practices like meditation and yoga
- Relaxation and breathing techniques
- Regular exercise to release endorphins naturally
- Adjustments to diet and nutrition (such as eliminating or reducing sugar, caffeine, alcohol, etc.)
- Assertiveness training
- Support groups
- Psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy
The most commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medications (many of which are highly effective for depression as well) include:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) work by stopping neurons in the brain from reabsorbing serotonin, which plays a vital role in mood regulation. Brand names include Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, and Lexapro.
- Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI) reduce the brain’s reabsorption of serotonin and norepinephrine. Brand names include Cymbalta and Effexor XR.
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCA) are less commonly used nowadays but still effective for anxiety. Brand names include Elavil and Tofranil.
Benzodiazepines have a relaxing, sedative effect and are fast-acting. These are typically used more for short-term or situational anxiety. Brand names include Xanax, Valium, and Ativan.
At Serenity Light Recovery, we understand the harmful consequences of not addressing and treating anxiety—one of which is the risk of self-medication and the abuse of drugs and/or alcohol.
Discover Social Anxiety Treatment at Serenity Light Recovery
Serenity Light Recovery is the perfect landing place for someone suffering from anxiety and substance abuse. Using a broad range of evidence-based therapies, we help clients receive the treatment they need to enjoy life and all the good that it brings. Therapy options may include:
If you or someone you love is suffering from social anxiety and is seeking to mitigate its effects with alcohol or drugs, it is never too soon or too late to reach out to us for guidance. Call us at 855.658.6109 or fill out our simple online form to get the help you need.