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5 Ways to Defeat Your Social Anxiety in Sobriety

by Liam M 14 days ago in addiction

"Alcohol is like pouring gasoline on your anxiety." Laura McKowen

5 Ways to Defeat Your Social Anxiety in Sobriety
Photo by Wei Ding on Unsplash

We all drink "cure" our social anxiety.

For people like you and I, this always ends badly. You drink until you blackout, do something silly and awaken the next day riddled with anxiety.

Why on earth do you keep on torturing yourself?

In sobriety you learn that alcohol is probably the cause of your anxiety, it was in fact making it worse.

Since I have become sober my anxiety has almost completely disappeared. I no longer need alcohol to find confidence. Without booze, I have been forced to find new confidence, one that was always there. The anxious person from before has been executed and burnt; a newer, more confident human rose out of the ash. This is the power of becoming sober, a secret that is hidden by the pressures of society. When you stop believing the lies, you will realise how confident you truly are. You understand the power of listening to your fears and emotions, realising you can grow and improve without a toxic substance flowing through the veins.

Realise that you'll be ok without it. Trust me, here's why alcohol doesn't help you;

The negative impacts of drinking

Alcohol increases anxiety

Anxiety and alcohol use disorder are common co-occurring disorders that can cause severe distress and impair your daily functioning. Alcohol use can exacerbate an existing anxiety disorder or may lead to new anxiety symptoms and vice versa. Meaning that a pre-existing anxiety disorder can contribute to an alcohol use disorder (as many individuals use alcohol as an unhealthy coping mechanism).

Through years of conditioning, you have been led to believe that alcohol reduces your nerves. A plethora of studies have shown that long term drinking causes significant anxiety issues. If you're not a heavy drinker, you should still worry as low drinking levels can still impact your anxiety levels.

A review of studies published in 2012 found that anxiety disorders and alcohol use disorders often occur together.

This means if you have an anxiety issue, you're very likely to develop a drinking problem or vice versa. It pays to realise it is not a cure to your anxiety; it is, in fact, poisoning you.

It's not the cure

If you use alcohol as a self-medicating measure, you might feel that it "works" to help you cope with your symptoms. While you might think that it works in the short term, it's more likely to cause you problems in the long run.

Alcohol is no medicine and should never be used to self-medicate. At the end of the day, your issues will still return the following day to haunt you. Only now do you have a lovely hangover to accompany them.

It's hard when you're caught up in the moment. I know I have lived and breathed the alcoholic life for most of my life. I used alcohol to escape everything, especially when I was in awkward social situations. In the end, addiction takes hold of your soul and makes life much worse than it ever was. Over time you rely on getting drunk more and more to ease your anxiety, which is heightened by the alcohol. It's a vicious cycle that needs to be stopped ASAP.

Learn to tackle social anxiety when sober;

Treating social anxiety

1- Education

People often say, "knowledge is power". This is true for many subjects, especially sobriety. The deeper down the rabbit hole you go, the more enlightened you become on the other side. When you learn about alcohol's toxicity, you should be repulsed about what it does to your body. Upon learning that alcohol can exacerbate the anxiety, you're already feeling. Once you understand this, you become empowered with that knowledge. With the next step, you can read more about alcohol whilst learning how to manage your anxiety.

Use education to empower yourself and defeat your demons (for both drinking and social anxiety).

2- You are not alone

Anxiety has a particular way of making you feel alone; it's as if the world is against you. As if nobody will understand what you're feeling, this makes alcohol seem like a friend. It melts your worries away briefly, in the moment you feel confident and relaxed. When the alcohol fades, you feel alone once again; the fear has returned.

In sobriety, you realise you are not alone. You take time to adapt to the situation, realising that the people around you probably feel the same. Everyone in the world is concerned with how they look or act unless they're Kayne. These people are wrapped up in their own little worlds, listening to the voice in their heads. If you're struggling, reach out to someone. I can guarantee there's someone else out there who feels the same as you. Find that person and bounce your worries off each other. Heck, even find a therapist. Mine has helped me more than I could have ever imagined; he got me to check back in with reality.

3- Reality check

"If you are depressed, you are living in the past.

If you are anxious, you are living in the future.

If you are at peace you are living in the present."

― Lao Tzu

Anxiety is a coping mechanism for when humans feel threatened, through years of evolution, this trait has been engrained in everyone. Social anxiety comes into existence when our thoughts run away and create situations that are unlikely to happen. My therapist has told me that our brains like making ridiculous situations up when they will never happen 99% of the time. Unfortunately for you and me, our brains get trapped on these thoughts, and we begin to believe they will happen. This causes an anxious spiral downwards.

I found checking in with reality really helps. To do this, start journalling, it is the easiest way to get thoughts out of the head and onto paper. I have found this has elevated my confidence, it is a reality check. When you see your thoughts on paper, you realise how ridiculous the thoughts were in the first place. Once on the paper, they are no longer trapped in the mind. Meaning you can carry on with a somewhat normal day (whatever a normal day consists of?).

If you're using alcohol to escape, you will always be worried about your thoughts manifesting. Once these thoughts manifest the only way to escape is through more booze. By using a journal, you can record the progress of your sobriety, this helps avoid the temptation to go back to drinking. Whenever I feel as though I want a drink, I look in my journal and remember how horrible my life was as a drunk.

Journalling helps you stay in touch with reality whilst keeping you sober.

4- Face your fears

When faced with a stressful time, we have been taught that alcohol will ease the stress. Instead in sobriety, you can see it as an opportunity to grow. Change the framing and view it as a challenge, by pushing through that fear you will grow into a stronger version of your previous self.

With every obstacle you overcome, you will feel the confidence growing. With more confidence come less anxiety. If you do feel anxious, then changing the framing of the feeling can help immensely. Sam Harris put this into words nicely;

"Imagine you're about to go on stage, and you feel the anxiety rising. The default state of someone who doesn't want to have that experience is to worry about it in advance. Once you feel those butterflies, you are at war with them - your mind contracts around that feeling. You're stuck in a conversation with yourself. Thinking, "why the fuck am I this person who can't do this?", "I see other people do this all the time". You begin to identify with each thought.

If you're feeling anxiety, there's a place where you can just feel it. And be indifferent to it or anything else. First, you can notice that anxiety isn't even that unpleasant. It's so close to excitement that the difference between excitement and anxiety is the framing.

If you felt these tingles or a slightly adrenalised response right before you went on a rollercoaster, you'd enjoy it. That's part of why you're going on the rollercoaster. Because you like that experience. So just drop back and realise the power of the framing".

5- Celebrate the small goals

The small goals are the best goals, these tiny goals can be used to acknowledge how far you've come on your journey.

Were you just in an anxiety-inducing situation?

If so then celebrate your small win. Don't ignore it, treat yourself. When you celebrate you reinforce the decision to become sober whilst solidifying your boost in confidence

there are more ways to enjoy your life without becoming drunk. Although it may be hard at first, the change is worth battling through the tough times. Drinking worsens all of life problems including social anxiety. More people in the world would be better off in life without drinking. Yet society has taught us we need drink to be happy and fun. They neglect to mention the physical and psychological issues that come as part of the package. Drinking doesn't stop your anxiety, in the end, it only makes it worse.

Make a commitment

Before quitting alcohol, you have to make a commitment to yourself and those around you. In this moment you decide to change the trajectory of your life forever. Once you get through the early days, you will feel your confidence growing. This will light a fire in your heart, urging you to push through and keep on improving yourself and your confidence. Little daily activities will help out, do one thing a day to boost your confidence just a little. Whether that is posting a blog, speaking another language or to a stranger, speaking in public. Whatever it may be, just know in the end, your confidence will grow. You will no longer rely on alcohol to "save" you.

I have made my commitment to sobriety. Every day I can feel my confidence grow; I feel my body and mind recovering as well. In uncertain times I would have reached for the bottle to escape. Now I have to embrace the fear and force myself to grow.


Liam M

** I am trash **

Brit living in Germany, living the sober life. Suicidal thoughts and organ failure brought me here, the lessons I learnt kept me here.

Writing about life, sobriety, money and all things inbetween

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