Dipsophobia (Fear of Drinking Alcohol)

Dipsophobia is the irrational fear of alcohol. Someone experiencing this mental disorder may find that they become extremely anxious when around alcohol or when around people drinking alcohol. They may find the idea of them drinking it to be dreadful. In some extreme cases, someone with dipsophobia may need to be hospitalized if they endure an intense enough panic attack. However, such sever symptoms will likely vary from person to person.

In many societies alcohol has an unfavorable reputation. Someone with dipsophobia may use this common societal norm as reassurance that alcohol itself is something worthy of being feared.

For example, they may purposely avoid the alcohol aisle at grocery stores due to the intense anxiety that it would give them if they were to even look at it. The fear they have toward alcohol may be so deeply ingrained into their subconscious minds that the mere sight of alcohol will give them a “knee-jerk” reaction of dread.

Some forms of alcohol may actually be healthy when consumed in moderation (e.g. red wine). Nevertheless, someone with dipsophobia may still take an extreme stance against alcohol and may believe that all alcohol is inherently abysmal and dangerous.

Although indulging in excessive amounts of alcohol over long periods of time has been shown to possibly be linked to liver disease, alcoholism, and reckless behavior, someone with dipsophobia may attribute even the most modicum of portions of alcohol to be the foundation of such occurrences.

Symptoms of Dipsophobia

As is the case with virtually all types of phobias, anxiety will be among the worst symptom experienced. Intense fear and dread are commonplace for someone experiencing dipsophobia. Their fear of alcohol may be so intense and irrational that they may even choose not to associate with people who are social drinkers or who aren’t in opposition to alcohol.

Someone with dipsophobia may overreact frantically when they see someone else drinking alcohol or if they are asked to drink alcohol. Their inability to think rationally with regards to alcohol, as well as their ineptness with controlling extreme emotions may significantly impact their relationships with others.

It is also important to note that someone who was once an alcoholic and is now sober does not by default dub them as being dipsophobia. Instead, dipsophobia is a mental disorder that is characterized by irrational thinking patterns that are out of touch with reality.

Dipsophobia is not a choice, nor is it the result of someone taking a conscious stance against consuming alcohol, whether that be based on ethical or health reasons. Instead, this condition is likely based on a chemical imbalance in the brain that may be due to things such as family history and/or environmental factors, among other things.

Below, you will see some more common symptoms of this phobia:

  • Intense anxiety when drinking alcohol or when around alcohol
  • Anxiety when thinking of alcoholic beverages
  • Inability to cope with intense emotions such as fear
  • May isolate themselves from others
  • Muscle tension, shakiness, and sweating

Causes of Dipsophobia

There are no known causes of someone developing dipsophobia. However, genetics and one’s environment are likely to play very significant roles. For instance, someone who has a family history of mental illness may have a higher chance of developing dipsophobia. This is due to the fact that having such a family history may be intimation that they themselves have a genetic predisposition for developing mental illness.

If this were to be the case, then this could mean that it may only take them experiencing some sort of traumatizing event for them to develop full blown dipsophobia. Such traumatic events may be that they got in a very serious vehicular accident due to being intoxicated, they may have harmed someone they love or care about as a result of being intoxicated, they may have been diagnosed with a disease from excessive drinking, they may have been an alcoholic, etc.

Though having feelings of disgust when thinking back at such experiences, there would have to be some sort of dramatic change that occurred in their brain for them to truly develop dipsophobia. Merely reminiscing and feeling guilt or shame is not intimation of having a phobia. It is much more complex than that.

So, even though we can look at various factors as to what may or may not cause someone to develop dipsophobia, the reality is that we do not definitively know. However, being cognizant of the many possible causal factors may be enough to give us a very strong indication as to why someone may have developed this disorder.

Dipsophobia Treatments

There are no treatments that are specifically designed for dipsophobia. However, talk therapy, exposure therapy, and anti-anxiety medication may be quite advantageous. Talk therapy may be very helpful for someone with dipsophobia as it can help them to better understand the many faults in their thinking. By doing so, the therapist can then introduce techniques to get them to adopt much healthier thinking patterns.

Exposure therapy is probably one of the most common forms of treatment used for people suffering from phobias, and it may also be very helpful at treating dipsophobia in particular. For obvious reasons, it may not be best for the therapist to expose the patient to alcohol by having them drink it during their session.

However, it may be very effective to expose them to alcohol by having them hold a bottle of alcohol in their hands during their session, by having them smell the aroma the alcohol gives off, and by having them pour some of it into a glass, among other things.

Anti-anxiety medication may also be effective at reducing the intensity of anxiety that’s associated with dipsophobia. However, simply taking medication alone may not be enough to truly reduce their symptoms in the long-term. This has to do with the fact that taking medication will not teach them how to change their behavior by improving their cognition.

Reducing Caffeine for Dipsophobia

It is no secret that consuming large amounts of caffeine throughout the day can aid in making you more anxious. This makes sense when we look closely at how caffeine affects our body’s physiology. When we consume a high dose of caffeine, our heart will start to beat faster and we become more tense. Essentially, our body will begin to go into a “fight or flight” state of mind. Such a frame of mind is often a precursor for someone with dipsophobia to experience panic attacks.

So, consuming little to no caffeine throughout the day may be able to significantly help reduce your day to day anxiety. Although doing so will likely not make all of your anxiety go away, it will indeed help you to reduce any unnecessary suffering that you would have otherwise experienced if you were to consume a large amount of caffeine.

Beverages like coffee and tea are often high in caffeine, as well as some energy drinks. In fact, even some foods have caffeine in them as well, such as dark chocolate. Being more conscious of your daily caffeine consumption may help you to reduce some of the symptoms associated with dipsophobia.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Dipsophobia

DBT is a very effective form of treatment for people struggling with emotion regulation. It is often used to treat people suffering from borderline personality disorder. Nevertheless, it can also be very advantageous for someone suffering from anxiety disorders like dipsophobia too. This is due to the numerous amount of coping skills you can expect to learn in a DBT group. These groups typically last about 6 months long and can have anywhere from two people to several people depending on how many join the group.

One very effective DBT skill for helping someone with dipsophobia is half-smiling. This technique works by having you think about that which you fear or upsets you all while slightly raising the corners of your mouth by lightly smiling, thus the term “half-smiling.” Although, it isn’t enough to just think about your fear while half-smiling, you also have to try and refrain from entertaining those painful emotions that your specific fear may evoke.

Mindfulness meditation is also heavily used in DBT and can greatly benefit someone with dipsophobia as it is done in a group setting, which helps to put the patient out of their comfort zone. These group mindfulness practices may include drinking warm tea to hone in on the sense of taste and tactile senses or simply focusing on the breath.

Coping ahead is another very useful DBT skill that can help someone with dipsophobia. With coping ahead, you will want to find a place where you can sit down quietly without distraction. Close your eyes and then think about the many different possible scenarios where you would face your specific fear and overcome it or cope with it. Doing so will help you to be much better adept at coping with your dipsophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.

Meditation for Dipsophobia

There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from dipsophobia. Specifically, mindfulness meditation has been shown to be quite beneficial for helping people to enter into a more equanimous state. There are many different ways with which you can implement mindfulness meditation and there are also many different meditation apps which are designed to make things as easy as possible for you.

Mindfulness has the potential to significantly help those suffering from dipsophobia due to how it will help one to distract themselves from their fear by refocusing their attention onto something else that does not have any sort of emotional baggage attached to it, such as by focusing on the breath for example. This is one of the most basic ways that one can meditate and be present.

For someone with dipsophobia in the midst of a panic attack, redirecting one’s attention to the various sensations felt when breathing can actually help to reduce the amount of mental anguish experienced during such an influx of anxiety.

To implement mindfulness meditation to help relieve one’s symptoms of dipsophobia, you can do so by paying close attention to the way the muscles in your abdomen and chest contract and relax with every inhale and exhale. You can spend time dwelling on how it feels as your chest expands during each inhale and how it sinks in with every exhale.

Besides focusing on your breathing, you can also focus on the sounds around you, the way your skin feels as you touch certain objects, the way foods taste, as well as the way certain aromas smell. Essentially, honing into your 5 senses can significantly help you to reduce some of the anxiety that is associated with dipsophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Dipsophobia

CBT is a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve one’s mental health. It is a modality that is often used to treat people suffering from anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder and OCD. Someone with dipsophobia may also be able to benefit from CBT as well seeing as how it would allow them to have a much better understanding as to why they think and behave the way they do in relation to their irrational fears.

CBT can be immensely helpful for someone with dipsophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with dipsophobia is exposed to their fear, they will almost always have an instantaneous subconscious reaction to their fear. Such a lack of introspection is likely a large part of why someone with this condition will suffer to the extent that they will. CBT can help you to take a step back and analyze your fears more deeply than you typically would.

Besides learning to be more fastidious with regards to understanding one’s specific fears, someone with dipsophobia engaging in CBT can also expect to learn various other skills aimed at helping to relieve the anxiety caused by their condition.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Dipsophobia

MBSR is an 8-week evidence-based program that offers secular, intensive mindfulness training to help people who are suffering from anxiety, stress, depression, and other sorts of mental anguish. MBSR may be able to significantly help someone who is suffering from dipsophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with dipsophobia can expect to learn a plethora of different skills that can help them to relieve the intense anxiety that’s associated with their specific phobia.

Talk to your doctor or therapist to see if MBSR can help you to reduce the intensity of your symptoms of dipsophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.

Exposure Therapy for Dipsophobia

As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as dipsophobia. It can be an efficient way to help desensitize the patient to their specific fears. Be that as it may, it is imperative that the therapist implementing it on their patient is very adept at doing so. For example, if the therapist were to slightly expose someone with dipsophobia to their fear, then it may not be very effective as they may need a higher amount of exposure to truly trigger any sort of worthwhile change in the patient.

The same can be said for the antithesis of this scenario. If the therapist were to excessively expose someone with dipsophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their dipsophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with dipsophobia has a very strong sense of just how severe their symptoms are so that they can know the level of exposure that the patient will likely be able to handle.

Exercise for Dipsophobia

Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including dipsophobia. Specifically, cardiovascular exercise can significantly help to relieve one’s stress. This is not to say that weight-resistance training would not benefit someone with anxiety, but rather that aerobic exercise is has been shown to be more effective at releasing those feel good chemicals in the brain, such as endorphins.

According to the American Psychology Association, exercise can help to condition the mind to better cope with stressful situations. This makes sense when we take into consideration the high amount of stress that the body is put under during strenuous exercise. So, if you yourself are sedentary, then engaging in some form of aerobic exercise may be able to significantly help reduce your symptoms of dipsophobia by making it much easier for you to cope with the anxiety and stress that’s associated with this condition.

There are many different aerobic modalities that you can partake in to help reduce your symptoms of dipsophobia, such as swimming, biking, skiing, walking, and jogging. You can also acquire the many benefits of exercise by playing sports such as tennis, soccer, basketball, and racquetball, among many other sports. Engaging in some form of exercise consistently may be able to help relieve some of the pain associated with dipsophobia over time.

Medication Therapy for Dipsophobia

Antidepressant drugs

These types of medications aren’t only for people who suffer from depression as they can also help people suffering from anxiety disorders as well, such as dipsophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of dipsophobia.

These types of drugs are typically taken on a daily basis. They can indeed help prevent panic attacks from occurring, but they are more so used to help reduce people’s daily anxiety. Talk to your doctor to see if taking antidepressants can help to reduce your symptoms of dipsophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.

Anti-anxiety drugs

These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe dipsophobia due to the fact that people with phobias often experience panic attacks as well. Some common anti-anxiety medications include Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin, among many others.

These types of drugs are not typically taken on a daily basis, but they may be insofar as their dipsophobia is severe enough. However, this is something that you should first discuss with your doctor before you decide to do so to ensure that it is safe and effective.

Yoga for Dipsophobia

There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from dipsophobia. In part, this is due to the meditative state of mind that yoga tends to emit in those who practice it on a consistent basis. Yoga can be thought of as meditation in motion. It can help to relieve some of the anxiety associated with dipsophobia due to the mere fact that by engaging in yoga, your attention will be redirected to something more productive.

There are many different types of yoga that someone with dipsophobia can benefit from, such as hatha yoga or hot yoga, among many others. Nevertheless, regardless of the many different forms of yoga that exist, virtually all of them can help to relieve some of the stress and anxiety that is associated with dipsophobia.

If you have never practiced yoga before, then it may be in your best interest to take a class or watch some guided videos that can help you through each pose. Just like with meditation, the more you practice yoga, the more adept you will become at it. Besides helping you to reduce your symptoms of dipsophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.

If you think you may be suffering from some of the symptoms of this condition, then you may benefit from therapy. Feel free to reach out to your doctor or local mental health clinic to see what your available options are and to see if there is any sort of discount or promo code available to help you with the costs of treatment, as well as if your health insurance will cover treatment costs.

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