Dual Diagnosis: Addiction and Anxiety
Despite the fact that roughly 40 million Americans aged 18 or older suffer from anxiety disorders they are not discussed enough. Not only do people not know how to understand if they may be suffering from an anxiety order themselves, but they are also unaware of the possible links to addictive behavior as well. We will explore all of this and provide some insights into the most prevalent mental health disorder in the country.
Is Feeling Anxious Common?
There are differences between feeling anxious (something that virtually everyone goes through at least some of the time), and having an anxiety disorder. It is typical for virtually anyone to experience some of the following emotions during certain times in their lives:
- Fear of an unknown outcome
- Concern over a perceived lack of preparedness
These emotions can be triggered in response to a legitimate threat, and they have served us throughout human history. What can be troubling is when those types of emotions creep into your everyday life and thoughts.
If there is no legitimate reason to be on the edge of your seat about something but feel as though you are anyway, then you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder. If your body and mind respond too strongly to things over which you have no control or to things that are of no legitimate threat to you, then you may also be dealing with anxiety issues.
Therefore, while the feeling of anxiety is common and even useful in certain situations, the persistent feeling of this emotion when no legitimate threat exists is counterproductive.
Signs of an Anxiety Attack
The precise experience that an individual may go through when experiencing an anxiety attack can differ from person to person. However, some of the common signs of an anxiety attack include:
- Difficulty focusing
- Feeling nervous or irritable
- Rapid breathing, sweating, or trembling
- An increased heart rate
- Difficulty sleeping
- Gastrointestinal (GI) issues
Not all of these symptoms need to be present for one to be going through an anxiety attack. It is common for different types of people to experience anxiety in different ways, and their bodies may react to those stresses in different ways as well. Recognizing some of these symptoms is a great way to note when you are going through an anxiety attack and perhaps take some action to do something about it.
Linking Anxiety and Addiction
One of the truly devastating things about anxiety is that many people are conditioned to believe that they just have to deal with it. In fact, many people do not realize that they are dealing with clinical anxiety, and they attempt to treat the symptoms through the use of addictive substances such as drugs or alcohol. UCLA has produced research that indicates that many patients are seen in the on-campus hospital there are doing exactly that:
Because the intensity of anxiety falls on a spectrum, some patients do not realize that they have a treatable condition and instead attempt to reduce their anxiety through the use of substances like alcohol, marijuana, or opiates. However, the anxiety quickly returns and leads to a self-treatment cycle that facilitates the development of addictions. In some cases, addiction can precede anxiety; substance-induced anxiety can occur after using marijuana, bath salts, and many other legal or illegal drugs.
This means that it is easy for the cycles of anxiety and addiction to feed one another. Either one of these things can precede the other, but the biggest danger is that they feed into one another and cause serious despair and harm to the sufferer.
It is of paramount importance that more research is done on this topic. It is also critical that society works towards being more compassionate and understanding of what people are going through when they are trying to deal with addiction issues related to their anxiety.
Anxiety is a very complex issue on its own. When it is coupled with addiction concerns as well, it becomes like a labyrinth to navigate through. That said, there are some treatment options for those currently suffering from anxiety and/or addiction. Finding the right treatment program for your needs is essential for recovery.
Non-Medication Anxiety Treatments
Patients should always consult with their doctor before starting any course of treatment for anxiety, addiction, or any other concerns that they have. Their doctor MAY recommend some non-medication based anxiety treatments to help ease the symptoms of anxiety within the patient:
- Meditation – This practice of mindfulness has been demonstrated to help some patients manage the symptoms of anxiety more effectively. The practice can help retrain the mind to think of certain situations in a new light. Believe it or not, this is exactly what some sufferers of anxiety say that they need. If they can view the world around them through a new lens, they may be able to take more steps in the right direction.
- Talk Therapy – Speaking with a therapist in a private and personal session has proven useful for some patients who are troubled by their anxiety. Therapists have special training that allows them to provide useful insights to their patients about why some of that anxiety may be bubbling up in the first place. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is often used to treat anxiety and addiction.
Medication Based Treatments
Many patients respond best to medications to help tame their anxiety. Doctors may recommend both medication and non-medication-based treatments to be applied at the same time in order to get the most desirable results for their patients.
Medications that may be used for anxiety include:
These, along with non-medication interventions may be hugely helpful. Do not forget to take into account the fact that addiction and anxiety must be treated at the same time if the patient is suffering from both. They will not get any better until they are able to get treatment for both issues. Progress can be made, but only when active steps are taken on both issues at the same time.
Rehabilitation Can be Your Answer
To receive the help that they need, many patients come to Wellness Retreat Recovery to help themselves receive the care that they need to work on their issues with anxiety and addiction. This is a Bay Area rehabilitation center that offers the calm and idyllic atmosphere that people need to start to work on their recovery. It is the kind of place where you want to be if you are serious about your recovery and making the most of the opportunities that are being offered to you.
We offer specialized treatment for substance use disorder and mental health. The relaxing atmosphere and the trained staff who can walk you through the steps of recovery are exactly what you need to lean on when working through your issues of anxiety and addiction. You can do all of this, but only when you allow the professionals to help you make the changes that you know you need to make.