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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone,

Do you drink alcohol to cope with your social anxiety? Or to become more outgoing?
Maybe you have a few drinks before you dare go out with friends?
Maybe some "dutch courage" helps you become the life of the party?
Or maybe you drink after social events because you feel rejected or sad?

I am a clinical psychologist and researcher at the Centre for Emotional Health, Macquarie University, and I am posting to let you know about a free treatment program in Sydney for socially anxious people who also drink alcohol above recommended levels.

Research studies tell us that social anxiety and drinking often go together. Alcohol is widely used at social events, and commonly considered part of a good night out. Shy people may believe that alcohol helps them to feel more confident in social contexts, or helps them fit in. Social anxious people may also drink after a negative social experience, as a way of self-medicating feelings of sadness or shame. Over time, this can lead to a reliance on alcohol, and additional problems, such as relationship issues, problems at work, and health problems. Although many people believe that alcohol relaxes them, the physiological effects of alcohol actually include increased agitation and anxiety, so alcohol use and social anxiety tend to feed each other in a viscous cycle.

When social anxiety and harmful alcohol use go together these problems tend to be worse, and standard treatments are less effective. Because these two problems often go together, our research team has received research funding to develop and trial a new treatment for people with social anxiety and alcohol problems. As part this research, we offer free individual cognitive behavioural treatment to adults with social anxiety in the Sydney (Australia) area.

Treatment sessions are conducted with experienced clinical psychologists, and our treatments are based on the most up to date research findings and knowledge of social anxiety and alcohol problems.

To find out more, please visit our website:
www.psy.mq.edu.au/casp/
As well as more information about the program, our website has fact sheets and video links about alcohol and social anxiety, and an online survey so you can assess whether your current drinking is harmful.

The CASP team (Mikki, Sonia, Kris, Andrew) and I would be happy to answer any questions you have about the research or treatment program, or to discuss whether it is likely to be of benefit to you. To contact us:
Phone: (02) 9850 8670
Email: [email protected]

We understand that making that first call takes a lot of nerve, so if it is too difficult - shoot us an email instead!

Thanks for reading my post :). I welcome any thoughts or comments you have on this topic.

All the best,
-Lexine

P.S. According to the most recent Australian NHMRC guidelines, it is recommended that women and men drink no more than two standard drinks on any one day in order to reduce the lifetime risk of alcohol-related harm. To read these guidelines in more detail, see:
Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol (2009)
 

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Damn, I'm in Brisbane, but this is exactly what I'm dealing with right now. It's been going on for me for years, drinking in order to be able to socialise. Or just to get a break from anxiety. I hope we get something like this up here sometime. Everytime I decide to be social without the crutch, I end up going back to it, I guess because it's easier. Not to mention getting pissed when you've got all the time alone to dwell. I feel at least vaguely connected to others when I'm drinking, but it's very fleeting. Griffith Uni has an SA group coming up soon I believe, which should be a big help.
 

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Eight days is a good effort man, I've done a month or so here and there too, but once I go out socialising I'm like f**k this, I need a drink. It's the long haul that's the hard part. I help homeless people with some volunteering, but that doesn't stop me. It amazes me how people get through life without something to blot reality out for a while.
 

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blessed with lucky sevens
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Yeah I know, it's hard. Like when I see an advertisement for alcohol on TV or when it comes to the end of the week and there's this feeling of excitement in the air and you want to drink but you know you shouldn't.

I wish you all the best, stay strong!
 

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Permanently Blessed
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I will be blunt here. If it were not for my joining the "party scene" in high school I would have had a pretty dull experience. SA kept me from school activities, but come the weekend I would find some alcohol and go hit a party and I became pretty socialable. This carried over into school then as I made more friends. But I would limit my participation in non-alcohol related activities as I did not want to be exposed as an "insecure shy kid". I really had a lot of fun and a few admittedly negative experiences like fights and a couple of MIPs.

Any social setting that doesn't involve alcohol is not fun at all. I can get through one, but it is not enjoyable.

However as I get older I do see the downside of it. Too much Alcohol makes me extremely tired the next day no matter how much sleep I get and also I have sky high anxiety levels. So, as a consequence, I don't socialize since I don't drink as much anymore.
 

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I'm 17 currently, 18 at the end of the year. I already see a problem within myself.
I drink heavily on weekends. And yes, I become very, very social.
If won't even barely hang out with friends unless I am going to be drinking at the event.
 

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I just turned 26 two weeks ago and love to drink socialy and have been doing so since I was 17. Without a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other I feel naked at social events. The more trashed I become the more uninhibited I feel.

I guess the angle I need to work on is the social anxiety angle. 9 out of the last 10 times I've drank in excess I've blacked out and done something so embarrasing I couldn't even believe it was me. I never blacked out when I was younger, but I guess the damage has finally taken it's toll over the last nine years. Even though I only drink a couple times a month it is to extreme limits. Limits I can no longer accept.

I'm not one to enjoy interventions, even self imposed ones, but this I can no longer take. I just wish I could label this in a way that seemed more like a positive addition to my character and less like a personal intervention.

It's all about framing to me, I guess thats just the politician in me!

Keep up the positive attitudes all and I love the support I find from all my fellow anxty ones.
 

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Shining Phoenix
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I used to drink alcohol to forget about my problems and become social around people, I remember the last time I got **** drunk and came home only to watch my mom cry and end up passing out in front of her. And that was the last time I tasted alcohol.

Weed is a great substitute for alcohol :D, although I recommend not abusing it and only using it before going into a social situation.
 

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****e man weed makes me even more paranoid and mute than normal. Weird how it works differently for people. I watched The Wall stoned and wanted to kill myself, acid was even worse. Try being completely mute and paranoid for twelve hours unable to sleep and everyone else on acid thinking you're a freak. Took me a long time to recover from that. Es aren't bad for social anxiety if you get a good one, but the comedown isn't worth it.
 

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I used to drink a lot, 6 pack of beer daily, and then when it wouldn't get me drunk anymore I switched to hard liquor. Decided to cut down on it recently. Now I have a few beers or shots on weekends. Figured I'd rather stick with SA than have my liver fall off.
 

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I am a Recovering alcoholic and not saying you are at all, because you said you only drink twice a year, but my point is that I have made a fool of myself over and over again until I completely stopped drinking and my life is great now because I do not have to have the fear of - oh no what did I do and to whom. What is the past is the past and leave it at that just try not to ever get drunk again and you will not have to worry about your actions.
 

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sp chick
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I used to drink a lot, 6 pack of beer daily, and then when it wouldn't get me drunk anymore I switched to hard liquor. Decided to cut down on it recently. Now I have a few beers or shots on weekends. Figured I'd rather stick with SA than have my liver fall off.
yea this is the reason i cut back as well... google pics of "alcoholic cirrhosis"... makes u wanna never touch another bottle ..
 

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****e man weed makes me even more paranoid and mute than normal. Weird how it works differently for people.
So true! everyone trying to get me off the alcohol (well back when I WAS drinking alot so I HAD people to hang out with) used to tell me how much better for you it is and I agree it's healthier because it's natural but I get superparanoid unless I smoke alone..I'm dealing with the SA without alcohol now.. I don't even wanna know what my liver looks like after about 18 beers a day for almost 2 years...and Im only 22. By the way, anyone that ever wants a sober buddy feel free to add me.. it does take support!:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Hi all,
Thanks all for sharing about your experiences with alcohol and other drugs. I think everyone's experience is different, but certainly for some people alcohol and other dugs can become a crutch to cope with anxiety.. and this can lead to feeling stuck using these substances and copping the negative consequences on health, relationships etc.

It's really good to hear from those of you that said you identified this was becoming a problem and took steps to cut down.

If you are in Sydney and think drinking and social anxiety is a problem for you, I would encourage you to visit our website:
http://www.psy.mq.edu.au/casp/
We offer a FREE cognitive behavioural treatment program involving 10 sessions with a highly qualified clinical psychologist.
Lexine
 

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I only drink one drink when I know I'm going to be in a very anxiety-provoking situation, I find it cuts the edge off. What I find to be more interesting to do a study on, is finding the similarities between the psychopharmaceutic properties of alcohol (ie. brain mechanism), and comparing with medications. Because if alcohol works, then a medication that targets the same brain areas should also work.
 

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mmmm....i have never touched drink in my 19 years, and at this point I am more scared to than anything as I am afraid as to how I will act because of it, I'm afriad that I will say things that I want to keep to myself. Is that strange?....ugh i worry to much!!
 

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The Kwisatz Haderach
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SA and other stuff make me feel very repressed. Drinking takes removes the lid. Sometimes this just means I can relax but at others, it brings out a very ugly strain of bitterness and maybe also a bit of craziness.

For that reason, I don't indulge terribly often, well that and also the fact that my tolerance for the sauce is minimal at best.
 
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