Social Anxiety Linked to Alcoholism, Says Study

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Trending News: Link drawn between alcoholism and anxiety disorder

A recent study appearing in Depression and Anxiety suggests that social anxiety disorder may have a direct effect on a person becoming an alcoholic.

To help us understand the research, Men’s Variety spoke to licensed psychologist and board-certified addictions counselor, Greg Harms. He works with clients in Chicago to help them better understand their challenges around alcohol use.

“The research is interesting and seems to suggest that a person is more likely to develop a problem with alcohol if they struggle with social anxiety disorder. Obviously, we’d need to see more studies on this front but it’s hard to escape the link the study has uncovered,” Harms says.

For this investigation, researchers combed through 2,801 interviews of Norwegian twins. As part of their work, the research team looked for links between a variety of clinical issues.

These included alcoholism, specific phobias (i.e. fear of spiders), social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and agoraphobia (fear of open spaces).

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According to the findings, social anxiety was strongly associated with the development of alcoholism, particularly later in life.

“Many individuals with social anxiety are not in treatment. This means that we have an underutilized potential, not only for reducing the burden of social anxiety, but also for preventing alcohol problems,” said lead study author Dr. Fartein Ask Torvik with the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in a press release.

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In simple speak, social anxiety disorder can be defined as a condition where a person fears being viewed by others in a negative light.

Typically, extreme fear is part of the dynamic and can impact major life areas. In many cases, the anxiety is profound and chronic in nature.

“Some people with anxiety disorders use alcohol to become socially lubricated. They also do it to calm themselves. After a stretch of time, a person can unknowingly develop a reliance. Addiction can be a very real result,” shared Harms.

“This doesn’t mean everyone who has anxiety and drinks will become alcoholics. But this study does help us to see the relationship between alcohol abuse and mood regulation,” adds Harms.

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Brian is a journalist specializing in men's issues. His interests include technology, physical fitness, outdoor adventures, exercise training, men’s grooming and medical advances. Hailing from Green Bay, he attended University of Wisconsin and NWTC. Follow him on: Facebook for new posts.