Alcoholism Treatment for a Person with Social Anxiety
anonymous Asks ...
I am very shy. I am probably an alcoholic. I do not enjoy meeting new people and I especially do not like having to make small talk or speak in front of people. These things drive me to drink (harharhar). I am unable to stop my drinking and it is taking over my life and compromising my health and my ability to work. I am an artist and I am not as creative as I once was. As far as I can tell, and I have called a few places, all addiction treatment is like a cocktail party of socializing and groupity group group stuff…minus the one thing that could get me into that situation (the booze). So that’s out. So how do I get treatment on my own without having to interact with quite so many strangers?
Anna Deeds Says ...
Thank you for your question. Social anxiety makes it very difficult for the person to be around people especially in a group situation. It sounds like you have been self medicating with alcohol for a long time. You could go to an individual counselor for therapy after an alcohol detox if this is needed. However, you really need more support than someone who sees you once a week. An individual counselor could show you other ways to cope with your anxiety. However, this can be a long process especially without a support system. And you could possibly continue to relapse during the process.
There are inpatient facilities that specialize in treating both alcoholism/addiction and mental health issues. They are called dual diagnosis treatment facilities. You would probably still have to do group therapy but it would be done in a way to be sensitive to your anxiety and help you get comfortable in a group. You could always talk to your counselor and doctor ahead of time and ask if your anxiety level gets too high (maybe 8 out of 10) or you begin to have a panic attack, you may be allowed to leave the group briefly to take a deep breath and calm yourself before returning. Or your anxiety could be discussed in the group and the group could help you cope with how you feel. You will probably be surprised at how many other alcoholics and addicts can relate to your anxiety. You may even be able to practice social skills like making small talk and work up to speaking in front of a group. Once you become comfortable with your group, they can help you work on your anxiety in social situations.
I know it seems like an impossible task for you to be in group therapy but with a staff who is sensitive to your anxiety; participating in group therapy can make your anxiety better. You will become comfortable in groups and no longer need alcohol to deal with social situations.
Good luck and I hope you get the treatment you need.