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How to Overcome Social Anxiety at AA Meetings

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How to Overcome Social Anxiety at AA Meetings

Many people begin to get anxious before going to a social event. Wondering who’s going to be there, what they’re going to say, and if you’ll even remember them can be causes for you to become anxious. The anxiety isn’t debilitating, but it’s difficult to overcome social anxiety symptoms. These symptoms may cause you to alter the ways you might normally behave if you were totally confident and comfortable from the start. Family gatherings, parties, work events, and AA meetings alike are all typical playing fields for a little dose of social anxiety.

AA meetings specifically can make meeting-goers easy targets for bouts of social anxiety. Maybe it’s your first meeting or you’re attending a different group than your usual this time. Alternatively, maybe you’re the main speaker this time you’re not entirely sure how to balance the weight and be able to socialize normally. Whatever you narrow the cause down to, feelings of anxiety are not uncommon when prompted to socialize. Fortunately, there are things we can do to help alleviate some of those apprehensive feelings.

If you’re feeling anxious about an AA meeting, know that you are not alone. It is possible to overcome social anxiety symptoms with an anxiety treatment program. If you’re battling both an addiction to alcohol and anxiety, then the best choice for you might be a dual diagnosis treatment program. This treatment can help you manage both your alcohol use and anxiety simultaneously. To learn more about the treatment options available, contact New Start Recovery today at 833.433.0448.

What to Do if It Is Your First AA Meeting

AA is typically an inclusive, friendly fellowship. So, when meeting-goers see a new face, they’ll probably come up and talk to you. If this sparks feelings of anxiety, you can rest assured that the regulars will most likely lead the conversation. Just listen and take it slow. The conversation will start out with introductions just like any other conversation. Saying your name and exchanging minor pleasantries are usually relatively easy interactions.

While most people won’t flat-out ask, it might be helpful to tell them that this is your first meeting. They’ll see it as an opportunity to be extra inviting, show you the ropes, and make sure you’re doing okay. However, if you don’t feel comfortable sharing that information, it’s okay. Generally speaking, being friendly will help you make friends quicker through the fellowship. The more support you feel, the more your recovery will benefit. But if simply answering their questions without fueling the conversation is more your speed, that’s okay too. People will pick up on those social cues and won’t pry information from you.

What to Do if You’re Attending a Different Meeting than Usual

From time to time, you may experience stress or triggers when you’re out of town, on vacation, or moving to a new city. However, recovery doesn’t stop just because you’re not home. Fortunately, there are AA meetings in cities all over the world. Unfortunately, going to a new meeting can easily cause feelings of anxiety. You may be thinking, What if I don’t get along as well with these people? What if they all ambush me with questions? What if they’re not as friendly as my meeting members? First, take a deep breath and relax. You’ve been to an AA meeting before and you know how they work. This new meeting might be in a new place with new people, but the foundations are the same.

As far as socializing goes, the easiest thing to do is reverse the scenario in your mind. Imagine you’re at your regular home meeting and someone new comes in. How would you react? You’d probably be welcoming but also cognizant that they’re new and might be feeling out-of-place, awkward, and hesitant. You wouldn’t go up to this new person and immediately ask to hear their whole life story. You also wouldn’t stare, judge, and be unfriendly towards them. Use this scenario reversal to help calm your own nerves. You’re the new person now, but the regular meeting-goers will probably react to you in the same way you’d react if you saw a new person at your own meeting. They just want to know who you are. But that doesn’t mean you have to tell them about every bump and bruise in your life. Just start with your name. Further socialization will come more easily once you start to realize that this new meeting isn’t too different than your own.

It’s Natural!

In many cases, if you are focused solely on physical survival, feelings of anxiety can help you survive. It stems from the fight-or-flight response. Anxiety and fear help you learn when it was better to stay and fight or run away from a situation. While you may not be in a life-threatening situation anymore, your body still triggers this response in situations that are unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Feeling anxious about socializing at AA meetings is not rare or unnatural. It’s built into your genetic makeup. But if your social anxiety is debilitating and stops you from doing normal things, such as keeping you from even attending an AA meeting that you want to go to, then you may need to seek help.

Tips for How to Overcome Social Anxiety Symptoms:

  • Breathe – This may sound silly and obvious, but breathing is the easiest way to calm symptoms of anxiety. Focusing on your breathing will help you relax so that you can carry on conversations more easily.
  • Don’t overthink – Many people who experience some sort of social anxiety overthink the situation, which just makes the anxiety worse. Try to relax and let interactions and conversations happen naturally. It’s rarely going to be as bad as you think.
  • Focus on what you’re there for – The purpose of going to AA meetings is to strengthen your sobriety and find support and fellowship. If you remember that, then socializing will come much more easily. Furthermore, if conversations don’t go the way you’d want them to go, you won’t be as bothered because you’ll remember that making sure every interaction goes perfectly is not the reason you’re there.

You may not be a social butterfly. But fellowship and peer support are important in recovery, even for wallflowers. So it’s important that you try to acknowledge and alleviate your anxiety so that you can reap the full benefits of AA meetings.

Seek Treatment for Addiction and Anxiety at New Start Recovery

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, New Start Recovery can help. We offer support for those suffering from a variety of substance use disorders, as well as many mental health conditions. With the help of our treatment programs, it is possible to learn to control your anxiety and manage your substance use. During our treatment programs, clients have the opportunity to access a range of amenities as they learn to overcome their social anxiety symptoms and addictions, such as:

  • Medically supervised treatment services
  • Support in regaining your physical and mental health
  • High-quality food prepared by our full-time chefs
  • A homelike environment

Please don’t attempt to just break through your addiction and mental health issues on your own when help is available. Call us at 855-737-7363 or reach out to us on our live chat.

Posted in Addiction, Addiction Recovery Support, Alcoholism, Anxiety Treatment Program, Culture, Mental Health Treatment, Recovery