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About 30% of people with panic disorder use alcohol and 17% abuse psychoactive drugs. This is in comparison with 61% (alcohol) and 7.9% (other psychoactive drugs)  of the general population who use alcohol and psychoactive drugs, respectively. It often varies between individual cases whether any observed drug use worsens the condition, or is initiated by the sufferer to alleviate the condition ("self medication").
People who have had a panic attack — for example while driving, shopping in a crowded store, or riding in an elevator — may develop irrational fears, called phobias, about these situations and begin to avoid them. Eventually, the pattern of avoidance and level of anxiety about another attack may reach the point where individuals with panic disorder may be unable to drive or even step out of the house. At this stage, the person is said to have panic disorder with agoraphobia. This can be one of the most harmful side-effects of panic disorder as it can prevent sufferers from seeking treatment in the first place.