Shyness, Alcohol Use Disorders and ‘Hangxiety’: A Naturalistic Study of Social Alcohol Users
Social anxiety disorder (SAD) has been related to alcohol use disorder (AUD). Shyness can be considered a subclinical analogue of SAD, yet there is little research into the effect of alcohol on anxiety levels in highly-shy individuals. This naturalistic study investigated acute and sub-acute effects of alcohol in high and low shy social alcohol users.
97 individuals were tested at home and assigned to either consume alcohol to normal levels (n = 50) or to remain sober (n = 47). Baseline measures of AUD symptoms, shyness and social phobia were taken. Measures of state anxiety were taken at baseline, following a period of alcohol consumption or sobriety, and the following morning.
Marginally decreased acute anxiety resulting from alcohol consumption in high shyness was observed. A significant increase in anxiety the day following alcohol use was observed in highly-shy participants. There was a significant correlation between anxiety elevation on the second day and AUDIT scores in highly-shy participants.
This study suggests anxiety during hangover is linked to AUD symptoms in highly-shy individuals, providing a potential marker for increased AUD risk, which could inform prevention and treatment.