Self-medication in social phobia: a review of the alcohol literature

Addict Behav. 2003 Mar;28(2):269-84. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4603(01)00235-0.


It is well documented that many individuals endorse the belief that alcohol reduces social anxiety. Individuals with social phobia, therefore, might be expected to use alcohol as a coping strategy in an attempt at self-medication. The purpose of the present paper was to review the published literature on the relationship between alcohol use and social phobia to test the self-medication hypothesis (SMH). Support for one aspect of the SMH was found; individuals with social phobia use alcohol to reduce anxiety. Support for the second premise, that alcohol actually reduces social anxiety, was less conclusive.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Alcoholism / psychology*
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Phobic Disorders / prevention & control
  • Phobic Disorders / psychology*
  • Research
  • Self Medication / psychology*