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Well... I was on track

Old 06-13-2016, 08:14 AM
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Well... I was on track

I haven't posted in this section before but I feel like I identify more with the AV method of recovery. I was doing alright for a while and then yesterday happened. My social anxiety got the better of me at a fundraiser and I drank all the drinks. I knew better. And I made a total ass out of myself (or I feel like I did) and made some un-wise decisions.

I'm really struggling with my anxiety and I thought I had a handle on my drinking piece but I really don't. I cannot handle one or two drinks. I'm a binger and that's just how i am programmed but my social anxiety makes it really hard to talk to people without it. Anyone else have that problem and how did you get past the need for alcohol?

I'm trying to not beat myself up today but I feel awful

Thanks in advance for your help.
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Old 06-13-2016, 09:30 AM
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Hi HealthyK.

I have social anxiety as well. One thing I'm learning is that my AV definitely uses that against me -- it used to tell me that there was NO WAY I could possibly get through a party or event unless I was loaded. If I look back on my feelings carefully, I could see that the relief came not from the alcohol itself, but from my decision to drink --- as soon as I knew a drink was on the way, I was OK. Which meant it isn't actually the alcohol that helps -- it's giving in to the AV, which feels like a relief at first.

Once I took alcohol off the table, so that it is just not an option any more, I find I actually have less social anxiety. I have some, but my AV can no longer use it against me -- it can't whip up my social anxiety further just to get me to drink. After the first few minutes of awkwardness at a party, I find I settle into a stage of feeling OK. It just takes practice -- it's only the first few minutes that feel so weird, and I realize that's just my AV.

There are all kinds of practical things that one can try too -- asking other people questions to get them talking about themselves, which they enjoy, takes the pressure off me so I don't feel so awkward.

Once I took alcohol off the table, all sorts of new approaches became available to me.
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Old 06-13-2016, 12:05 PM
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Hi - what tursiopes999 wrote. I'll add, that during the early days of sobriety, I only attended social events that I absolutely had to. When I do attend, I pause before any conversations and really think about how I respond. Drinking is simply not an option anymore and it has been freeing to live this way. If I become too anxious, I either leave that space for awhile and breathe deeply or just smile and remain silent. Works so far. Good luck. We can do this!
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Old 06-13-2016, 12:14 PM
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Healthyk,

It's amazing how many personality traits we alcholics/addicts have in common...not sure that shyness or social anxiety is a trait or just a pain in the butt...but I have it too. I struggle with just looking people in the eye...I get creepy feelings like I am uncomfortable with that. So...I think the longer you are sober the better that gets and I like the suggestion of asking other people questions about themselves to get them talking first. Maybe, for me, anyway, acceptance that I am an introvert and that's ok may work too. Dont beat yourself up today. I know the awful, AWFUL next day feeling of regret. Hang in there and as you know, the further away you get from that last day the better you will feel.
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Old 06-13-2016, 12:46 PM
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Thanks everyone - I made some bad decisions and I flirted pretty aggressively with someone and made them uncomfortable, something I would absolutely not have done had I not been drinking. I had a handle on the alcohol thing until recently when my anxiety and stress have been sky-high.

If anyone has any additional pointers on overcoming social anxiety without alcohol I would absolutely welcome them because that's my biggest struggle. Thank you again for your responses
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Old 06-13-2016, 01:53 PM
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Doing social stuff in early recovery SUCKS, big time. The seconds feel like minutes, the minutes hours, the hours...well, you know how it is. When I'm not drinking I often find the most exciting part of any gathering is preparing to leave and saying my goodbyes. However, I try as mightily as possible while there to be as engaging and outgoing as possible. I'm not sure if this comes off as being overly friendly or just plain weird, but it's all I know how to do for the time being. Sometimes I even pretend that I'm buzzed and try and duplicate the things I would say and do if I was in a more relaxed state of mind. Not sure that I recommend that one, though, as it's kind of a head trip and psych out.
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Old 06-13-2016, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by theTHINman View Post
Sometimes I even pretend that I'm buzzed and try and duplicate the things I would say and do if I was in a more relaxed state of mind. Not sure that I recommend that one, though, as it's kind of a head trip and psych out.
During my first 1.5 years sober I would do this too, actually. I went to bars a lot and never really had any temptation, though I would drink non-alcoholic beer and nobody would know the difference. I could just let loose and people would just pay me no mind. Thank you for reminding me of that.. it's actually an excellent suggestion.
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Old 06-13-2016, 03:10 PM
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Sure, glad I could help!
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Old 06-13-2016, 04:31 PM
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One thing I love about SMART (RR - where the AV model comes from has the same roots as SMART) is that when you relapse you go back to where you were before it happened. Not to the beginning of the program but to the same positive behaviors that were working so well for you.

So while its okay to feel as if you drank, which is something you regret today, its okay to move on and keep on trucking.
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Old 06-13-2016, 05:54 PM
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I came to realize over time that for me, alcohol was the root cause of "social anxiety", and I felt it helped because my brain had gotten wired to connect the two - social occasion, alcohol - and I felt very anxious without it. Over time, with total abstinence, I got past that feeling of anxiety, and I'm much more comfortable and stable in all situations while sober than I ever was while drinking.
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Old 06-14-2016, 03:53 AM
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Originally Posted by tursiops999 View Post
-- it's only the first few minutes that feel so weird, and I realize that's just my AV.
I always make a commitment to drink water for the first round at a social event. This gives me time to observe what is going around and to see it is not nearly as bad as I thought. Usually, there are plenty of others who are not drinking or drinking very little, which relieves most of the anxiety. Also, I find it very hard to switch from refreshing water to beer or wine.

Originally Posted by HealthyK View Post
If anyone has any additional pointers on overcoming social anxiety without alcohol I would absolutely welcome them because that's my biggest struggle.
A great source for me has been "Dialectical Behavior Therapy Workbook" which contains lots of techniques and exercises for overcoming/managing anxiety.
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