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Drinking to deal with social anxiety

Drinking to deal with social anxiety

Teen: Dear Dr. Expert,

I have a secret that nobody would believe. I'm shy! The idea of going to parties just freaks me right out, and yet most of my friends and people I know would tell you I'm the life of the party! The problem is that the only way I can go to parties and have a good time is to drink beforehand and then even more once I get there. Sometimes I drink secretly in the bathroom. I think it's getting worse so I want to stop, but I'm terrified that people won't like the real me or will find me boring. What should I do?

Boozing in Bowen
Dr. Expert: Dear Boozing in Bowen,

Some people who feel uncomfortable in social situations hide out at home and avoid going out. Other people socialize a lot, but use things like drugs or alcohol to feel less anxious. However, this strategy prevents you from realizing the situation may not be as dangerous as you think and that the things you fear may not actually happen (for example, people might not find you boring when you're sober). In fact, when you are sober, you might be a much better listener and a more conscientious friend.

But don't take my word for it, try it out! Try going to the party without drinking and test out whether it really is true that people won't like you or find you boring. While you do this, don't make assumptions about what people think - look at the facts. Observe what people actually do and say to you when you are sober. Was it as bad as you thought?

You can also develop more people skills to help you out. Other people usually love talking about themselves, so show your interest in others and ask them questions about themselves and their lives. In the end, people barely remember what you say or do, but they do remember how you made them feel.

For more help and ideas, check out the MindShift app.