Anxiety and Addiction

Anxiety is a word that gets thrown around far too often. Most often individuals will casually refer to their anxiety as though it’s something to throw in the wind of conversation. The concept, on a base level, is understood by many, but the intricacies of the disorder are sure to shock people.

Not only would the realities of anxiety come as a shock to some, but also the link between it and addiction would be sure to surprise many. Some may even think that this would make treatment for either one even more complicated. However, if one is to recover successfully from both, a necessary part of that success will be understanding anxiety in its fullness.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is categorized as consistent worry, dread, or fear that someone experiences, whether it be circumstantial or chemical. Circumstantially, anxiety is common in events that may bring a general sense of stress such as a test, job interview, or public speaking. However, if someone suffers from anxiety in a medical sense (as in they’ve been diagnosed with anxiety), it could mean suffering from several different mental health disorders.

It is imperative to remember that there is more to anxiety than just a sense of dread, worry, or astute panic. This is just what happens on the surface. The true substance of an anxiety disorder comes with someone feeling powerless to the reality of anxiety. The lack of control when it comes to this kind of disorder is unnerving.

How Does Anxiety Affect a Person?

Anxiety has the potential to compromise a person’s life for the worst. Those who experience anxiety usually move on once they make it through their time of crisis.

Those who suffer from an anxiety disorder have a hard time not allowing it to disrupt their rhythm. The astute panic that accompanies an anxiety disorder has a knack for interrupting professional, social, and familial obligations. Someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder might also stop doing things they used to love, have a hard time relaxing, or be able to cope with small issues.

What Are The Different Types of Anxiety Disorders?

There are many forms that an anxiety disorder can take, which to some people may come as a surprise; most individuals see anxiety as black and white, but it’s much more than that. Some of the different kinds of anxiety disorders are as follows:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder is a common anxiety disorder in which those who suffer excessively worry and stress over common everyday issues. These common everyday issues could include relationships, physical health, mental health, work, or finances. Sometimes there may be no normal reason to feel like this, but to an individual suffering from a generalized anxiety disorder, it’s more real than anything else.

Panic Disorder

When someone suffers from a panic disorder, they’re controlled by fear. This fear manifests itself in a variety of ways including difficulty breathing, trembling, lumps in the throat, and nausea. There have been studies conducted that have shown panic disorders being a severe form of anxiety that affects 2% to 3% of the United States. It is also worth mentioning that this form of anxiety is twice as present in women as it is in men.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorders are anxiety disorders that have a paralyzing effect on an individual out of fear of being judged or embarrassing oneself. Studies by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) suggest that 12% of adults in the U.S. suffer from a social anxiety disorder at some point in their life. Those who suffer in this regard may aim to limit their interactions with others to avoid social anxiety.

What Are The Signs of an Anxiety Attack?

Different anxiety disorders are based on varying diagnoses, but this doesn’t mean there aren’t general signs and symptoms of an anxiety disorder. Some signs of an anxiety attack include the following:

  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Feeling on edge
  • Sense of impending danger
  • Astute panic
  • Increased heart rate
  • Weakness
  • Tiredness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweating
  • Poor concentration
  • Trembling
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Upset stomach
  • Lump in the throat

How Do I Help Someone With An Anxiety Disorder?

Helping an individual with an anxiety disorder is a task that should be completed with the utmost respect and care. To start, being able to recognize the symptoms is imperative. Caring for someone with anxiety can be frustrating for some. Sometimes, the littlest things to one person could be a trigger for another, so this is not to be taken lightly.

It’s also important to look out for the warning signs of impending anxiety. This could mean being aware when an individual begins to lose interest in their hobbies or friends. Withdrawal could be a symptom of anxiety creeping into an individual’s life. In these circumstances, it can be tempting to correct them and guide them to the right path, but as previously mentioned it is imperative to handle these circumstances with love and care.

In some cases, an individual may suffer from both anxiety and addiction simultaneously. When this happens, it is referred to as a dual diagnosis. Dual diagnoses are very serious, so much so that there are specific treatment plans for that particular circumstance.

What is A Dual Diagnosis?

A dual diagnosis is when an individual is suffering from a substance use disorder and an anxiety disorder at the same time. Although one is not dependent on the other, it is fairly common to suffer from substance abuse as a result of trying to cope with anxiety.

There are just under 8 million Americans who suffer from a dual diagnosis. Why is the number so high? Isn’t it obvious that this is a problem? The problem stems from an even bigger issue, and that’s not addressing the unique needs of each individual in treatment. Those who are suffering from a dual diagnosis have probably not received the treatment they needed for their mental health disorder in the past.

As a direct result of not being treated properly for their mental health disorder, these individuals self-medicate or cope with alcohol and drugs. When someone uses a substance as a coping mechanism, more often than not, it results in substance use disorder.

Another issue with dual diagnoses is that they’re difficult to discern. The symptoms of a dual diagnosis are often overlooked; the longer someone goes being overlooked, the more likely they are to develop an addiction. The more someone uses alcohol to cope, the closer they come to depend upon it. Dependence is a stepping stone away from addiction (although dependence is not the same thing as addiction).

Why is Dual Diagnosis Treatment Important?

Those who suffer from a dual diagnosis must receive the treatment that they need. When someone is experiencing both a mental health disorder like anxiety and addiction, it can cause damage for years to come. Dual diagnosis treatment options can identify and treat a person’s anxiety and addiction so that down the road they practice healthier coping mechanisms and don’t face the repercussions of destructive coping.

Detox and Anxiety

Sometimes, a person will suffer from a severe dependence on drugs or alcohol. In circumstances such as these, the best option to pursue is a medically assisted detox. When someone is being weaned off of the substance they’re dependent on, there are some unpleasant feelings commonly referred to as withdrawal. Some symptoms of withdrawal include the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Nausea

When someone begins medically assisted detox, they are given medication to curb the symptoms of withdrawal. Some of these symptoms can cause more anxiety, which is why the medication must help them come off of drugs or alcohol more comfortably.

For anxiety, in particular, benzodiazepines like Xanax may be prescribed to a person suffering from anxiety as a result of their alcohol withdrawal. The most difficult part about this, however, is that these benzos have the potential to lead someone to dependence. In cases like these, doctors will closely monitor their patients so that they don’t relapse.

Therapy for Anxiety and Addiction

There are more methods for treating those with a dual diagnosis than just detox. Therapy is a great way to develop coping mechanisms that are healthy and beneficial to a person’s long-term recovery success. In a therapeutic setting, patients may feel more comfortable sharing their struggles when it comes to substance abuse and anxiety. Either way, this setting is great for learning new coping mechanisms and feeling validated in one’s struggles.

Some studies by the American Psychological Association have disclosed that professional psychologists use a method of therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). In CBT, therapists look for the root cause rather than trying to treat symptoms. As a result, those who participate can strike their anxiety at its source, implementing the most effective coping strategies to ward off any anxieties one might feel.

Get Help from Intrepid Detox Today

At Intrepid Detox, we want to surround you with an understanding beyond reason. Our purpose is to bring you in and lift you so that your recovery is successful and everlasting. We do this by meeting each individual that walks through our doors where they’re at in their journey, coming up with a plan that is best for them and their stage of life. If you or a loved one are interested in finding out more, contact us today.