Social Anxiety and Drug Use

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Many people resort to drugs to break out of their shell or prove some kind of point to society. Over the years, researchers and therapists have established a link between social anxiety and drug use. In theory, initial drug use may be completely unrelated to social anxiety. This proposition could lead into better methods of treatment.

Need to Fit in

One of the basic emotional needs is acceptance; people need to feel loved and accepted by others. If this desire is unfulfilled, it could lead to anxiety and drug use. A study conducted on about 200 adolescent who had sought addiction treatment identified issues with fitting in. The teens seemed to respond well to activities which alleviated social anxiety.

About half of them experienced some sort of social anxiety, with about 15% showing a disorder. The latter were noted to have started exhibiting symptoms of the disorder about two years before they began to use drugs. The study stated that the participants used alcohol and drugs because they provided an outlet to release anxiety. Using these substances helped them take their minds of worries about not fitting in.

After sobering up, the anxiety returned, thus causing the teens to return to using alcohol and drugs. This trend continued and matured into addition. Treating anxiety could thus be an effective solution.

Further Analysis

The next part of the study involved teens who attended AA meetings. It was observed that this particular group made a better recovery after they were treated. The likelihood of relapsing after completing treatment among them was about 50% less.

Social activities were found to be beneficial for young people experiencing social anxiety. In addition to reducing worries about fitting in, it encouraged them to be more friendly, welcoming and outgoing. This goes to restoring a sense of belonging and self-confidence.

Implications

The study revealed that those who didn’t show up for meetings stood a higher chance of relapsing. It would thus be helpful for drug and substance abusers to not only show up for meetings, but also be actively involved. The risk of relapse is usually higher within the first 6 months of completing treatment.

Teens should be observed to see if they’re socially anxious. Involving youths prone to addition in activities that deal with the symptoms reduces the likelihood of them resorting to drugs. Those already suffering from addiction due to social anxiety are advised to seek immediate treatment.

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