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Insight into the Fear of Alcohol

written by: hchristina11 • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 1/21/2011

The fear of alcohol, or methyphobia, is a psychological condition where the sufferer has an intense and irrational fear of alcohol or a fear of people who are ingesting alcohol.

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    Methyphobia

    Insight into the fear of alcohol shows that it becomes a significant problem when the person begins to suffer debilitating consequences related to the fear. Methyphobia is often met with disbelief in the lay community and sometimes in the professional psychological field as well. Many people do not recognize the debilitating nature of the condition because there are so many negative consequences related to the abuse of alcohol in society. Some may even look at the person suffering and conclude that it is a healthy condition. People who suffer from fear of alcohol are afraid of alcohol and its effects; however, the disorder should be treated as aggressively as other phobias.

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    Who Suffers?

    One major concern voiced by methyphobics is the fear of loss of control when drinking alcohol. While this fear is somewhat substantiated, the phobia is not congruent with reality. Sometimes even the smell of alcohol can cause the suffering person to have an extreme anxious reaction. Research has shown that methyphobics who exhibit severe symptoms have often experienced trauma related to a loved one abusing alcohol with negative consequences. Some have experienced a loss of control themselves, which then led to serious repercussions.

    Like many other psychological conditions, methyphobia tends to run in families and may have a genetic component. There may also be an environmental component too; seeing a close family member suffer from the fear of alcohol might cause the observer to learn the same behaviors.

    Being the victim or a close relation to the victim of a drunk driving accident is brought up time and time again in therapy sessions with those suffering from the disorder. This could be another cause of the fear of alcohol and has led researchers to believe that methyphobia is related to and has many of the same characteristics as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Like PTSD, methyphobia can be a stepping stone that may lead to conditions such as social anxiety disorder (SAD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Methyphobia may often take a back seat to these conditions, and the danger of this if it happens, is that the phobia will go untreated.

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    Research and Treatment

    Insight into the fear of alcohol has brought it the forefront of psychiatry where it cannot be swept under the rug. Many therapists now take the disorder seriously, and recognize the debilitating symptoms that continue to worsen without treatment. Methyphobia is particularly isolating because the person who suffers will often not attend any family or social functions because they fear other people may be drinking, and that they, themselves, may be forced to drink as well.

    Treatment for methyphobia usually consists of controlled exposure and cognitive behavioral therapy. The phobia tends to loosen and not exhibit so much control over the person as they are introduced to safe situations where alcohol is present. While it is not necessary for the person to start drinking alcohol, sometimes taste exposure therapy can help the person overcome a physiological distaste of the substance. Support groups for methyphobia are becoming more and more common as the disorder gains wider attention.

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    Sources

    Health Mad: Methyphobia: The Fear of Alcohol - http://healthmad.com/mental-health/methyphobia-the-fear-of-alcohol/

    Encyclo Online Encylclopedia: Methyphobia - http://www.encyclo.co.uk/define/Methyphobia