Anxiety isn’t necessarily what you think it is.
It’s not the occasional bout of worry or stress, it’s not irrational and it’s not all in your head.
Being worried from time to time and stressed out goes with the territory of living. It’s something we all go through. While being anxious is a reasonable response to many of the situation’s life throws at us, there’s a difference between that and the chronic and persistent anxiety that some people grapple with.
Anxiety Explained: Are Anxiety and Addiction Related?
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder – Chronic anxiety, exaggerated worry and tension with little that triggers it
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – Recurring, unwanted thoughts, aka obsessions, and/or repetitive behaviors, aka compulsions. Performing them only brings temporary relief, skipping them brings on ever-increasing anxiety
- Panic Disorder – Unexpected and repeated instances of intense fear which comes with physical symptoms like chest pain and shortness of breath
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – Anxiety that develops after a terrifying event like, assault, disasters, accidents, combat in the military, etc.
- Social Phobia (or Social Anxiety Disorder) – Overpowering anxiety and extreme self-consciousness in normal, day-to-day situations. It can be specific to one type of experience or, when more severe, more broad and occurring when at any time that you’re around others.
It goes without saying that any of those conditions are going to be inherently difficult to live with. They can become so overwhelming in fact that it can lead to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism. An escape from the onslaught of emotion, panic, feelings, fear, etc.
As a person finds that the occasional drink or use of drugs allows them to feel “normal” again, they begin to chase that. Slowly but surely, they begin to build a tolerance and need more drink, and more drugs, to get back to what seems like stable footing. That cycle continues until a person is addicted and they have a full-fledged substance use disorder.
The symptoms of any of the given anxiety disorders creep in when sober, and before you know it, eventually you start to avoid being sober altogether. They play off and exacerbate each other in ways that further entrench both.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) observes that “multiple national population surveys have found that about half of those who experience a mental illness during their lives will also experience a substance use disorder and vice versa”.
Now that’s a net cast fairly wide, but they go on, “data show high rates of comorbid substance use disorders and anxiety disorders—which include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder”.
Ultimately, somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 in 4 people have a co-occurring serious mental illness (SMI) and a substance use disorder (SUD).
Getting Help With Addiction Recovery and Anxiety
Given how one can cement and ingrain the other, anxiety and addiction recovery are best dealt with together. Anxiety disorders and substance abuse disorders are both, at their core, mental illnesses and treating one without tackling the other is essentially only doing part of the job.
To free yourself of the physical and mental pull of drugs or alcohol but not touch the anxiety disorder which was at the core of why you were using to begin with, is leaving the door potentially wide open for relapse.
Fortunately, at Principles Recovery Center in South Florida, we offer a dual-diagnosis program that treats both simultaneously. Working through those underlying issues gives you a markedly better chance at maintaining the sobriety you will have worked so hard and diligently to achieve.
Get in touch with us today for a free consultation to see if our program is right for you.