The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual on Mental Disorders defines anti-social personality disorder as a pattern of behavior that demonstrates disregard for others. Someone with this disorder has no inhibitions about violating others’ rights, and she may easily fall into criminal activity, because lying, hurting others and disobeying the rules carries little weight with her1.
On the other hand, many people are naturally introverted and prefer small crowds and familiar faces. Shyness often accompanies introverts, but it can also be an anxiety condition. Introverts may experience a great deal of discomfort around new people, so they may end up struggling with substance abuse to self-medicate anxiety. A big difference distinguishes antisocial personality from being introverted, but both issues can lead to substance abuse and unique challenges in addiction recovery.
When Antisocial Tendencies and Addiction Combine
People who display introverted behaviors may abuse drugs and alcohol to avoid anxiety. For instance, people who are isolated at work or school may abuse drugs or alcohol at home to feel good2. Some of them may feel so stressed in society that they seek relief through some form of high. Other people think that society in general is so demanding that they rebel by abusing illegal substances; this problem can lead to addiction, but people with social anxiety can almost always understand and empathize with others, which sets themselves up for recovery.
Other people have a more serious condition that makes it difficult for them to understand and empathize with others. These individuals may already engage in criminal activity and disregard the property or person of other people, which means they may abuse drugs to block out bad memories or feelings. Lastly, shame can create avoidant behavior, as someone may want to avoid the consequences of his poor choices by getting blackout drunk. However, regardless of the reasons someone wants to distance himself from others, being under the influence of drugs and alcohol further distances people from functioning well in society. Rather than relieving stress, anti-socialism exacerbates it, as does substance abuse.
Most Addicts Are Antisocial
Even people who have never suffered from emotional or social concerns can manifest anti-social disorders while they abuse drugs. For instance, addicts often lie to and steal from others while they engage in many forms of dishonesty. Furthermore, addiction moves people to pursue lifestyles that often harm others, as an addict’s decisions are dictated not by regard for others, but by the need to satisfy cravings. Furthermore, defensive attitudes are common in both anti-social people and drug addicts. For instance, addicts often have problems at work or school, but they are also symptoms of anti-social disorders. Addicts find that people and goals they once valued carry less weight or seem less relevant. As a result, people may become secluded, withdrawn, secretive and moody, which encourage drug abuse.
Antisocial Thinking – One More Reason for Rehab
Many people believe that, because of their anti-social ways, they are poor candidates for addiction rehab, but such is not the case. Terms such as “peer support” and “group counseling” may send shivers up an introvert’s spine, but you can overcome anxious tendencies in rehab to succeed in recovery. In fact, quality recovery programs help each individual feel more comfortable in treatment, so antisocial tendencies are no reason to avoid rehab. On the contrary, antisocial behavior is only one more signal that help is necessary for addiction recovery.
When antisocial behavior comes from a serious medical condition, then you might damage the rehab process for other people. For instance, someone with antisocial tendencies may be arrogant, rebel against the rehab program, bully or harass other patients or doubt the sincerity of those who are trying to help her. If someone behaves this way, then rehab professionals may decide to move the patient into a more intense form of care with a strong a program of psychotherapy3. However, if this description does not apply to you, then you are probably not antisocial. You may be tense about receiving group help, but the following suggestions can help you succeed in rehab.
Tips to Overcome Shyness in Rehab
First, learn to avoid thinking about what might go wrong, as these thoughts can undermine progress. For instance, people who stutter often do so even worse in conversations that they want to go well. Also, if you think about how red your face might turn if you become embarrassed, then you may end up blushing as a result. In that light, stop thinking about what might happen or your thoughts may halt any progress. Step back, think about the actual situation and act according to what is going on right now.
Also, a low self-esteem causes shyness. Perhaps self-consciousness about addiction leads you to think poorly about yourself, but opening up to other people about your goals will help you succeed and break down barriers. Furthermore, freely commending others will boost positive thinking patterns and help you trust that other people are not judging you4. Also, helping other people and commending them is an excellent way to build self-esteem. To do so, roleplay in advance to build your confidence for when you must talk with crowds. In rehab, take note of upcoming discussions, and mentally prepare your ideas beforehand. You will think you have an upper-hand at expressing yourself when the moment arrives. Addicts tend to focus on themselves, not on others, and shy people tend to do the same, so learn to take an active interest in other people to thrive in rehab. This behavior will prevent you from feeling so shy while also it also discourages relapse.
Let professionals know how you feel about social situations before you enter rehab because they are completely aware that these feelings are common in addicts. To foster recovery, get professional advice from our 24 hour, toll-free helpline; our admissions coordinators will help you start and thrive in rehab.
1 PubMed Health. National Library of Medicine. “Antisocial Personality Disorder.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0024893/ Retrieved online: 1/20/16.
2 “Interventions for People with Antisocial Personality Disorder and Associated Symptoms and Behaviors.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0015247/ Retrieved Online: 1/20/16.
3 Forest, Gary G. “Chemical Dependency and Antisocial Personality Disorder: Psychotherapy.” https://books.google.com.mx/books?id=IuCfWkaYoPkC&pg=PA168&lpg=PA168&dq=anti-social+rehab&source=bl&ots=A87WgLbsMB&sig=uQjMHq-NY92q9GVR5QJ-4euLxwI&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjR3JLZz7nKAhULkIMKHXELDsQQ6AEIUTAJ#v=onepage&q=anti-social%20rehab&f=false. Retrieved Online: 1/20/16.
4 Lickerman, A. “How to Overcome Shyness- Why the Most Effective Solution to Shyness isn’t Greater Self-confidence.” Psychology Today. (2011, July). https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/happiness-in-world/201106/how-overcome-shyness. Retrieved Online: 1/20/16.