Social phobia has also been referred to as social anxiety disorder. It is characterized by persistent fear of social situations. This may cause embarrassment, panic or anxiety that interferes with an individual’s daily functioning. Social phobia exceeds normal shyness and leads to excessive social avoidance. Affected persons tend to avoid dating, social gatherings, parties, talking to strangers and going to restaurants.
Those who suffer from social phobia find it extremely difficult to cope with their fear and the uncomfortable feelings it produces. Some will turn to alcohol and drugs to comfort and distract themselves. Addiction develops when they continue to depend on substances to move through performance, panic, anxiety or potentially embarrassing situations. It may feel like substance abuse is temporarily relieving symptoms, but it is actually worsening them.