Social Anxiety

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Social Anxiety

Postby K225 » Sun May 15, 2016 9:24 pm

Hi I'm Chris I am an alcoholic. I started this program a few months ago, but I have been utterly f*cking it up from the start. I go maybe a week at best and then....disaster. The problem I have is Social Anxiety which is what caused me to become an alcoholic in the first place. I just feel some much more comfortable with booze in my system, I'm so uncomfortable around people when sober. But that's the problem. No matter how many times I go I feel so uncomfortable in those rooms with 50 or more people, mostly strangers. It's hard enough for newcomers without this problem. It's such an overwhelming social situation. All the people there seem to mingle so naturally while I sit quietly in a corner (just like every other social situation where no booze is available).I feel like I don't belong. Is there no path to sobriety for the introvert? I have to do something, my drinking has gotten way out of control. At the height of my drinking I wake up hung over, drink 3 shots or more to steady my nerves, go to work, drive to the liqour store on my lunch so I can drink and eat in my car, back to work, drink and drive on the way home, then get pissed and black out, forgetting what ever movie I watched, wake up and do it all over again. That's my day. Drinking all day to cover up how sh*t I feel from drinking and so I can function with SA. My health is shot, My bank account thrashed, Credit card racked, and my family hates me. My life is ruined and the help I need doesn't work because of another mental disorder that started all this boozing in the first place. Now if you'll excuse me I think I'll go hang myself.
"When you're going through hell, keep going".-Winston Churchill
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Re: Social Anxiety

Postby live4ward » Sun May 15, 2016 9:55 pm

Hey Chris :-) You'll get there. Here's 2 thoughts.
1. Can you ask someone you've heard share at meetings who seems to show up a lot and have good recovery to sponsor you and then start meeting 1-1 with him?
2. Can you find a smaller meeting that still has good long-term sobriety? (50 would be intimidating). I remember it being such a nice feeling when the members of a small group I went to a few times in a row started smiling and calling my by name. You are very much wanted and needed in AA. Big, big kudos to you for getting started and coming back!!
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Re: Social Anxiety

Postby Brock » Mon May 16, 2016 4:44 am

Hi Chris and welcome here. Anxiety of all sorts seems to be common in alcoholics I have heard speak, and many others have reported it here. It seems common in non alcoholics as well, the sales figures for tranquilizers have been on the increase for many years. I myself stuttered badly when I spoke, somehow a few drinks seemed to solve that and many other problems, like speaking to girls at parties and so forth. As you know the problem is after those few drinks we can't stop like others do.

live4ward (welcome here to you as well), gave a couple of good points, smaller meetings should be easier to handle, but I also believe this is something you might talk to a doctor about. For many years both when drinking and for a while after I stopped, I used tranquilizers, a doctor might put you on a course of something to make it easier to function, once you use it as prescribed it's quite acceptable to do so. The AA program has a way of addressing fears, and anxiety is basically fear. Once we get into the program and start getting over these things, we walk and talk with a new found confidence, we believe something much greater than us is in control, and we can relax.

I find one of the hardest things about this program is trying to explain just how it can and does turn lives around, the idea of a drink doesn’t even cross my mind, and I can live a full life, enjoying the best years I have ever had. Please ask any questions you may have, and I wish you the best in finding what so many of us have found.
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Re: Social Anxiety

Postby Layne » Mon May 16, 2016 7:59 am

Is there no path to sobriety for the introvert?
Hi Chris, welcome.

My story sounds very similar to yours in so many aspects except that I didn't wake up with a hangover because I couldn't even make it through the night without my body waking me up screaming for alcohol. So I would pound a few before going back to "sleep". Wake up and have a few before work. At lunch, have a few more. I know the story well.

When first attempting to sober up, yeah maybe I would go a week...and then disaster. Can't tell you how many times I did that.

Introvert, social anxiety, feeling like I don't belong...those were all me and yes they were why I started to drink in the first place.

The path to sobriety for me is the twelve steps of AA. The twelve steps do not require attendance at meetings in order to work, although meetings can be a helpful tool and addition to the lives of many alcoholics. Success working the twelve steps, can be achieved without meetings.

I tried countless vain attempts at achieving sobriety over the years. Meetings did not keep me sober. Reading the big book did not keep me sober. I had to put Into action what I read in the big book and work the twelve steps. That is what kept me sober. The best part is that by doing that, my social anxiety is lessening and I am finally comfortable in my own skin, which is all I ever wanted in the first place and why I started to drink in the first place. What a concept!

I am glad that you are here and yes there is hope and a path!
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Re: Social Anxiety

Postby stacylou » Mon May 16, 2016 10:51 am

Hi Chris,

Like you, I am an alcoholic who is introverted and has social anxiety, so I can certainly empathize with your situation. I take anti-anxiety meds before my meetings (I'm not trying to push them on you, I'm just trying to tell you what I do) and they help to "some" extent. I would do like others have suggested and try finding smaller meetings. I have been fortunate that the meetings I have attended have not had 50 people in attendance (although they do get crowded on Birthday Friday). At the smaller meetings I have attended, they remember me by name and they generally approach me first (I have a hard time approaching people and starting conversations), so that has helped some with the social anxiety.

At a recent meeting I attended, the topic was on resentments, and I raised my hand to do a share. I shared that I resented society in general because most people tend to think that I am being aloof and snobbish when in fact I am an introvert with social anxiety. Saying that out loud seemed to help, plus it let others know where I stand.

I wish I had a brilliant answer to tell you to solve your problems, but for now I would suggest scoping out other meetings in hopes of finding a smaller meeting and working with a sponsor.

I wish you all the best. You deserve it.
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Re: Social Anxiety

Postby tyg » Mon May 16, 2016 11:25 am

Severe Anxiety is not usually a symptom of alcoholism. Has a Doctor been consulted about this anxiety issue? Because, untreated anxiety disorders can interfere with recovery if not addressed.

If you are under Doctor's care regarding this and face 2 face meetings are honestly just too much right now. I would suggest getting in contact with other "Loners." Loners are people who are not able to go to meetings. Many of us online are not in a true "Loners" situation so, there probably will be some vital information other loners could give you that the rest of us can not. There is a lot more to do to recover than going to meetings so, I would talk with other Loners to share with you how they have recovered.

Here are a couple links to contact other loners:
http://www.aa-intergroup.org/directory_specialty.php?code=liL
http://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/contact-loners-internationalists-meeting-lim-desk

Another thing you might try is to call your local AA Intergroup Office and talk to them. They will have a lot of resources for you. They will know where the small meetings are and usually have a 12 Step call list so you can talk to other alcoholics locally and get one to take you through the 12 Steps. It is something we shouldn't teach ourselves how to do. AA.org will give you access to an AA Intergroup office or just google, "AA Intergroup Office in (your Town, State).
~The secret to the AA program is the first three words on page 112~
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Re: Social Anxiety

Postby Lali » Tue May 17, 2016 6:01 pm

What worked for me was getting there early and making coffee. To this date, it is very unusual for me to leave without cleaning the kitchen. I offered to read in Book studies, though in big groups I passed on my opportunity to share on what I read. In a small group I attend where nearly everyone gets to read I do often share. The point I'm making is that just doing these little things made me feel "a part of" and I eventually became very comfortable in meetings. Today, I can walk into a meeting I've never been to, pitch in and feel like part of the group. If you have a severe condition of social anxiety, you may not feel you can do this. I'm just sharing my experience. You might think about trying these things.
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Re: Social Anxiety

Postby 4thDimension » Tue May 17, 2016 8:13 pm

Anxiety and feeling like an outsider is a normal thing at any new meeting. Just think, some of those people have known each other for years.

A new person walks in and doesn't know anything, and maybe isn't feeling too well, and all the regulars are yacking and laughing a mile a minute.

Here are some things you can do that will make you feel more comfortable at meeting, and help you make friends fast. These are sometimes suggested at meetings, but often they seem to be secrets, hidden away for sometime else:

1. Arrive at meetings 20-30 minutes early and help with coffee or setting up the meeting. The guys will appreciate it, it will give you quality time with a nice guy, and you might make a friend. Plan to stay after the same amount of time to help clean up for the same reasons.

2. Find a group that goes out to eat after the meeting and go.

3. "Dial A Drunk" - get a list of members phone numbers. Then call a few of them up each week. Tell them your sponsor told you to reach out. That should be a good conversation.

I was anxious too. Before becoming an alcoholic I sought pills and therapy for anxiety. Soo,... now they are both gone, the anxiety and the booze. Replaced with serenity.

It can be that way for you too, Chris
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Re: Social Anxiety

Postby Noels » Wed May 18, 2016 12:21 pm

Hi Chris, welcome :D I'm sure I don't understand the term " social anxiety " as my first thought when I read your post was that I actually prefer bigger meetings at times when I don't feel so good as it makes me "invisible" whereas the members of the smaller meetings are starting to recognise me and because I'm usually quite chatty would almost " invade my space " at the times when I don't feel like chatting. At big meetings nobody knows me so I can just hang back, blend in, relax and rejuvenate without opening my mouth. :) and stay or disappear after the meeting - whichever way I feel at that particular moment.
I hope this makes sense :?
I do, however, agree that you should have a chat to your doctor also. If you're already on meds perhaps the meds need to change as our system gets used to a particular medication if we have been using that medication for a while ? The meds and alcohol together could also be " working against each other " ?
Be that as it may please don't harm yourself further by drinking. Use this online group as your group - we're all faceless :D yet very much human :D So individual and unique yet so connected.
You owe this to yourself. You are worth so much more than what you think you are.
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Re: Social Anxiety

Postby K225 » Wed May 18, 2016 7:56 pm

Thanks to all who replied. I am now 5 days dry and already feel my sanity coming back. Glad to be here and glad to be sober!
"When you're going through hell, keep going".-Winston Churchill
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Re: Social Anxiety

Postby Lali » Thu May 19, 2016 9:16 am

Congratulations on 5 days! That's big! Sure was for me...
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Re: Social Anxiety

Postby Tosh » Thu May 19, 2016 9:22 am

K225 wrote: I'm so uncomfortable around people when sober. But that's the problem. No matter how many times I go I feel so uncomfortable in those rooms with 50 or more people, mostly strangers. It's hard enough for newcomers without this problem. It's such an overwhelming social situation. All the people there seem to mingle so naturally while I sit quietly in a corner (just like every other social situation where no booze is available).


Hi Chris,

I was a loud army Staff Sergeant; stick me in a room with a bunch of other people and I'd be loud, outgoing and gregarious. You know why? Because I was extremely anxious on the inside and this anxiety forced me to be loud and outgoing; I felt like I had to be the life and soul of the party.

And at my first meeting I crept into the A.A. room and sat next to a little old lady because she looked safe and inside I was just terrified.

An A.A. cliche is not to compare your insides with other people's outsides; no matter how calm and outgoing we appear to be, inside we're not always like that.

However much of recovery is about getting out of our comfort zones - not doing things the easier softer way (that doesn't work and we end up in a mess). What worked for me was volunteering for the tea and coffee commitment. It meant I could have short chats with other A.A. members but always had an excuse to get away and make another cup of coffee for the next person coming into the room. It gave me something to do, made me feel a part of the team, and I didn't feel pinned down to any one person.

Nowadays I'm a lot quieter - I don't have as much anxiety inside of me forcing me to be loud. You see we both suffer with same thing, we just handled it in different ways (you go quiet and got loud). Same root problem though.

Keep coming back, mate, we need you.
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)
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Re: Social Anxiety

Postby Deskdad » Tue May 24, 2016 12:08 pm

Chris -

Same here. Social anxiety was a major trigger for my alcoholism - any kind of contact with anyone really. Talking on the phone to anyone, hanging out with friends, being around my kids. Sober I am quiet, reserved and an introvert. Get lit and I am Mr. Everybody - very social, outgoing, charming, funny. I liked me better and people like me better. At first, the alcohol works good for that. But, then as you know, it gets worse from there. Life consuming and destroying.
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"When I came to recovery, I realized that being a child for 43 years nearly killed me."
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Re: Social Anxiety

Postby shaunagus » Thu May 26, 2016 4:53 am

Hi Chris

I can relate big time to this. I didn't want anyone to notice me in AA and so big meetings were a bonus in that respect. If someone so much as asked my name I would find it difficult to answer I used to say "I'm just visiting" (translate: please leave me alone). At the same time I would look with jealousy at the friendships I saw in the rooms and desperately wanted that as well. So polar opposite parts of me operating there.

I remember being in a dead trendy coffee shop-cum-art-centre in the city where I was living at the time, just around the corner from the big lunchtime meeting that happened at 1pm everyday. I'd been attending the meeting fairly regularly by then, nipping in right before it started and running out as soon as it ended. Anyway, this group of about 7 or 8 uber-cool hipster types that I had seen at the AA meeting a few times were meeting for a coffee before the meeting (I'd gone there secretly hoping to find people from AA doing just that, I suspected it was a bit of an AA-pre/post meeting haunt). These people were all so effortlessly cool, good looking, bearded (the men anyway) in that way that hipsters just manage to grow totally trendy beards on demand. One or two of them made eye contact with me and then didn't invite me to join them!!.

I was devastated. And I never went back to that meeting. I took it totally personally in the self-centred self obsessed way I do. I was sure they knew me and had just judged me as unworthy of their AA-hipster-coolness. Chances are that actually they didn't recognise me. Maybe the eye contact was because I was creeping them out starting at them longlingly over my latte. I just couldn't face the humiliation of going back to that meeting knowing that they knew how pathetic I was (in my mind).

So of course I started drinking again. And of course I drank for years more.

When I came back to AA to the meeting that finally became my home group, where I got a sponsor, where I found friends etc it wasn't because people were any different (well, to be fair they are way less trendy there - there are beards but not hipsters beards, more laziness-beards) they were just as friendly with each other, just as seemingly unapproachable, still as intimidating. The only thing that was different this time was that I was determined to stay sober and I knew that meant being determined to make those damn people talk to me. I found it sooo hard. At the beginning, the only thing I could do was stay at the meeting for ten minutes at the end and not run off, even if I stood or sat there silently. I noticed there was an older guy who was v gentle who would talk to me at the start of the meeting if I got there early. Like others said I helped with washing the coffee cups (without being asked or volunteering) just because it gave me a 'cover' to chat to the other washer-up person. Getting a sponsor was big breakthrough in terms of connecting with people.

Another big deal for me was one day being stood behind my chair at the end of a meeting, still too terrified to speak to anyone, still determined not to leave the meeting. I was stood there, paralysed, cursing myself for my inability to speak to anyone when one of the guys did a scan of the room, saw me stood there silently and ambled over and started chatting. I was so relieved - still scared, still found it hard to speak back, but so happy that someone had done that for me. It was months before I opened my mouth to share.

These days I share at almost every meeting. I have good friends in AA who see a couple of times a week, speak to on the phone at least once a week, go for coffee or a meal with occasionally, we go to recovery events together. I realise that to a newcomer we might even seem like an impenetrable clique who know each other really well and are having a laugh, but we all had the same social anxiety you talk about, forced our way through it and came out recovered on the other side.

Keep coming back. It works, it really does.
“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop." Rumi.
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Re: Social Anxiety

Postby Feeya » Thu May 26, 2016 5:16 am

Hey, my name is Feeya, I'm an Alcohol and Drug addict,
I am diagnosed with social anxiety and I go through insane panic attacks when confronted with social interaction that I'm not prepared for.
I have been to 2 meetings, so that is not a lot, but I help my anxiety by staying in touch with the people I met there. As long as I stay in touch, I know it won't be as hard as the first time to go back to a meeting.
Before I enter a meeting I make myself say out loud what the worst thing is, that could happen at that meeting and I make myself say out loud why I am panicking.
To me, putting fear into words, makes it less threatening.

Good luck to you!
One day at a time.
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