Dysthymia & Social Anxiety—The Straws that Stirred my Drink

Some alcoholics when diagnosed with alcoholism put the drink down and never go back to it. If alcohol is causing problems in their lives, they know they’re better off without it. There’s no underlying force driving them to drink again.

With others like me, alcohol serves such a profound purpose that we stubbornly hang on to it even when it’s destroying our lives. It was four very long, unnecessary years after being diagnosed with this insidious disease before I could convince myself to walk away it.

Why can’t some alcoholics let go of something that is killing them and creating terrible suffering for everybody close to them? Today I have an answer and I believe my experience can help solve one of the enduring mysteries of alcoholism--its stubbornly high relapse rate.

I suffered (and you may, too) from dysthymia (a chronic low-grade depression) and social anxiety disorder (SAD) or social phobia. All my life, I had wondered why everything seemed so hopeless, why my life seemed so meaningless, and why I was unable to experience any real joy. Along with that, I had a deep, lifelong fear of people.

Left untreated, not only does anxiety and depression affect ones quality of life but they can lead to substance abuse and other negative behaviors. Both indeed complicated my recovery and prolonging my active alcoholism!

After my first taste of alcohol, I felt like I had finally found a solution for my sadness and fear. And the relief I felt far outweighed any derogatory effects. But after a while, my rescue became my ruin and I became caught in the vortex of addiction, powerless to stop drinking or even slow down.

Alcoholics Anonymous is known to be one of the most effective solutions for most alcoholics. But, I wouldn’t recommend it for social phobics! Twelve-step meetings where participants are expected to mingle and speak in front of a group of people are precisely the kinds of situations that social phobics fear most! For many, AA nurtures sobriety but for me it contributed to my relapses! Relapses create unnecessary guilt and shame. Unable or unwilling to stop drinking, many feel like pitiful losers, disappointing their friends and family again and again. But this doesn’t have to be. Social anxiety is easily treated.

If you are a repeatedly relapsing alcoholic, please make sure you have been screened for any underlying issues such as anxiety or depression.

It took the successful treatment of not only alcoholism but also my chronic low-grade depression and my social phobia for me to recognize that these two lifelong disorders were ‘triggers’ for my alcoholism. They were the ugly underbelly of the beast. Substance abuse was a mere symptom of two underlying disorders that were not discernible to anyone, not even me. My groundbreaking book, Recovering Me, Discovering Joy gives an inside look at my experience, strength and hope. Above all else it chronicles how I finally conquered my alcoholism.

After my anxiety and depression were lifted and with new found clarity of thought, I could finally understand what drove me to drink. I wasn’t such an awful person after all! Not only did I become successfully sober but I was finally capable of enjoying life. The raising of awareness about the powerful connection between anxiety, depression and alcoholism could quite possibly offer a better life for those who still suffer. No one should go through the torturous journey of chronic substance abuse.

Are you having trouble with issues such as these? If you are there are solutions! Don’t suffer another minute. Get help!

For an uplifting dose of encouragement and inspiration, go to: www.recoveringme.com and order my newly released book: Recovering Me, Discovering Joy.

Vivian Eisenecher, author of Recovering Me, Discovering Joy

Author's Bio: 

Vivian Eisenecher, author of Recovering Me, Discovering Joy / Uplifting Wisdom for Everyday Greatness. Please visit my blog for
further information at recoveringme.com/blog.