Cooper R, Hildebrandt S, Gerlach AL
The high comorbidity of alcohol use disorders (AUD) and social anxiety disorder (SAD) is often explained by excessive drinking in social situations to self-medicate social anxiety. Indeed, the motive to drink alcohol to lower social fears was found to be elevated in socially anxious persons. However, this social anxiety specific motive has not been directly investigated in primarily alcohol dependent individuals. We explored social anxiety, the motivation to drink alcohol in order to cope with social fears, and social anxiety as a consequence of drinking in AUD with and without comorbid SAD. Male AUD inpatients with (AUD+SAD group, N=23) and without comorbid SAD (N=37) completed a clinical interview and a questionnaire assessment. AUD+SAD patients reported higher levels of depression and an elevated motive to drink due to social anxiety but did not experience more social fears as a consequence of drinking. Previous results concerning alcohol drinking motives in order to relieve social fears could be replicated in a clinical AUD sample. Additionally, our findings suggest comorbid AUD+SAD patients to be more burdened regarding broader psychopathological symptoms. Thus, accessibility to SAD-specific screening and treatment procedures may be beneficial for primary AUD patients.