Article Provided By Lauren N. Hardy, MA of Cascade Behavioral Hospital
How Cocaine Is Portrayed By the Media
Cocaine, often known as the caviar of street drugs, is often the go-to drug for celebrities, models, and financial executives. Movies and television shows have long-portrayed the glamorous use of cocaine among the rich and famous. Cocaine and social success often seem to go hand in hand.
Despite this portrayal of cocaine as a high-priced way of getting high, people in the United States at all socioeconomic statuses use and abuse cocaine. At least 14% of adults in the U.S. have tried cocaine; young men ages 18 and 25 have the highest rates of use .
The Effects of Cocaine
Besides the extravagant façade associated with cocaine use, many people find that the effects of the high associated with this drug, which can be:
Using cocaine gives them a:
- Euphoric feeling
- Surge of energy
- Increased urge to talk
This can be especially helpful for people who are naturally shy in social situations, allowing them to loosen up and become the “life of the party.”
People who have lived with social phobia, also known as social anxiety, have intense fear of certain social situations, especially those they have not experienced before or those that involved being evaluated, judged, and watched by other people.
Using Cocaine to Deal with Anxiety
These people may be afraid and anxious to engage in conversations with other people and may fear any social situation that involves interactions with others. As we get older, it becomes less and less of an option to avoid social situations. People who have social phobia may turn to cocaine to increase feelings of happiness, become more entertaining and talkative, and reduce their feelings of awkwardness they feel when having to deal with other people.
Unfortunately, using cocaine as a social lubricant can become a crutch for some people who struggle in social situations. Not only are people who use cocaine at risk for developing an addiction to this powerful stimulant. They are also using cocaine as a means to deal with overwhelming social situations without developing proper social skills.
Cocaine does not have to become a feature of social events. In fact, after a person has used enough cocaine, he or she may begin to act in such bizarre fashions that other people may not want to be around them any longer.
Dealing with Anxiety in a Healthy Way
One of the first ways that people who struggle in social situations can learn to beat their fears and anxieties is through challenging negative thoughts. Thoughts such as, “if I do not say anything, people will think I am boring” can be a vicious cycle of rising anxiety and fear.
Study the underlying reason for the thoughts – a fear of being seen as boring by others should be analyzed and challenged by asking questions such as “does everyone assume quiet people are boring?” and “are chatty people actually less boring?” can allow for more realistic ways of viewing the social situation.
Don’t Avoid the Situation
While many people who dislike social situations have the urge to avoid the situation, this only strengthens the anxiety and prevents a person from learning to cope with feelings of anxiety and stress.
Avoiding all social situations may help in the short term, however, in the long-run it prevents a person from becoming more comfortable interacting with others and further increases the fear of social situations. Baby steps are the key – start with a situation that will be easy to cope with and gradually begin to work toward more challenging situations, which helps to build confidence and the ability to cope.
Making Lifestyle Changes to Cope with Anxiety
Lifestyle changes may be inevitable for a person who struggles in social situations, to learn more appropriate ways to reduce their fears and anxiety. This includes:
- Limiting caffeine, a stimulant, or avoiding it altogether.
- Not Using cocaine, as it can trigger a panic attack.
- Avoiding drinking to calm the nerves as it can also lead to an anxiety attack.
The False Allure of Cocaine
Cocaine may offer the allure of self-confidence, power, and social skills in movies and television, however, using this drug as a crutch for awkward social situations can lead to far greater problems down the road. Cocaine can trigger anxiety and fear in some and it promotes reliance on an illegal drug as a means to get through tricky social situations.
About the Author – “Cocaine and Social Success: How to Handle Social Situations Successfully Without this Harmful Crutch” was contributed by Cascade Behavioral Hospital clinical team member Lauren N. Hardy, MA. She has experience both in the treatment field as a counselor and as research analyst at Vanderbilt University where she contributed several articles and publications.
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on June 5th, 2014
Published on AddictionHope.com, Cocaine Abuse Treatment Guide