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When Anxiety Leads To Alcoholism


We have all heard the term “liquid courage” before. The idea that someone who is normally shy can suddenly become the life of the party after a few sips of beer or wine. Well sadly, many social anxiety sufferers do believe that myth and now new evidence is showing that people with those afflictions are more prone to becoming alcoholics.


A recent study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences (and shared on the Newsweek site) touched on this subject and found some interesting statistics taken from a grouping of 97 volunteers. Everyone who participated in the research admittedly had varying degrees of shyness. On nights out and during social events, a majority chose to partake in drinking solely for purpose of “loosening up.” Their belief was that social anxiety can be lessened after alcohol consumption.


“Shyness can be a symptom of social anxiety disorder,” the study authors relayed to Newsweek. “In turn, individuals with this disorder often turn to alcohol use disorder in order to cope with their symptoms although this is not advised. For instance, in the U.S. social anxiety disorder precedes alcohol use disorder in 80 percent of cases in patients who experience both conditions.”


One of the true surprising stats of the study were the effects these people felt the morning after they drank. During the so-called “hangover period,” anxiety levels among these shy volunteers was said to have increased dramatically. The scary thing here, is the development of a potential cycle. With the increase of anxiety the following day, comes the increased need to drink again and “calm the nerves.”


University of Exeter professor Celia Morgan was also quoted in the Newsweek article and felt that the day after results deserved further examination.


“We know that many people drink to ease anxiety felt in social situations, she added. “But this research suggests that this might have rebound consequences the next day, with more shy individuals more likely to experience this, sometimes debilitating, aspect of hangover. These findings also suggest that these habits, in turn, might be linked to people’s chance of developing a problem with alcohol.”


Interestingly, the term “hanxiety” was used to describe these feelings. Combining symptoms of a hangover and anxiety, it classified the condition as a common occurrence. The ultimate recommendation was for socially anxious people to seek out professional assistance or counseling if alcohol continues to be their form of escape. Believe us when we say that drinking will only lead to bigger issues down the line and is never the proper coping mechanism for an emotional hurdle.


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