How Anxiety And Addiction Are Related

April 11th, 2016 | By tpointa24 | Posted in Blog, FAQ

Do you suffer from anxiety and addiction? Then you need to understand how these two problems are related and the ways they influence each other. Understanding this information is vital because it can give you the confidence and hope you need to go through treatment. And yes: it is possible to get treated for both of these problems and regain a happy life.

What May Be Causing Your Anxiety

The things that influence anxiety vary heavily depending on the person. Many people suffer from generalized anxiety disorder which means they have a high-level of anxiety at most points during their lives. However, you may also suffer from phobias (such as claustrophobia) that make life more difficult to handle. Other people suffer from stress concerns that may influence their anxiety.

If you don’t suffer from any of these medical problems, you can still feel anxiety based on life’s circumstances. Difficult problems pop up in all our lives and dealing with them can create anxiety. This is especially true if these situations feel impossible to solve. Do you suffer from any of the following problems:

  • A difficult workplace?
  • Problems with money?
  • Interpersonal problems.
  • Trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder?
  • Concerns with school work?
  • Addiction problems you can’t beat?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may be suffering from anxiety. This is especially true if you are struggling with a drug addiction: nobody wants to be addicted and the negative feelings surrounding addiction can create severe anxiety.

These feelings are understandable and its important to know that you aren’t a failure for feeling anxiety or if you have fallen into addiction. Both impact millions of people across the country and it’s more than possible to get the help you need to recover. But what happens if your anxiety gets out of control?

When Anxiety Becomes Panic

People who don’t get anxiety medicines often turn to drugs or alcohol to help relieve the symptoms of their anxiety. Marijuana, heroin, and other sedating substances (alcohol) are all popular for this very reason. They help depress the “mental racing” effect that anxiety causes. However, anxiety is only increased during substance abuse and addiction and can help contribute to a panic attack.

Panic attacks are a lot more common than you may realize. They occur when your anxiety gets so severe that your body triggers a “fight or flight” response. Essentially, your body suddenly feels like it is in danger and it attempts to defend itself by increasing your adrenaline, focusing your mind on the problem, and giving you a manic burst of energy. In fact, panic attacks often resemble the effects of certain “upper” drugs and can even be triggered by excessive usage of those substances.

The important thing to remember about panic attacks is that they are rarely, if ever, triggered by a truly dangerous situation. While they can be, many occur during relatively benign situations that don’t require the kind of “amped up” physicality that a panic attack triggers.

What kinds of situations trigger a panic attack? They will vary from person to person. For example, if you are a mother with young children, you may suffer a panic attack when you see them playing in the backyard near a road. Others experience panic attacks in social situations or in moments that can feel or be dangerous, such as driving a car, flying a plane, riding an elevator, or even riding a bus.

Have You Ever Had A Panic Attack?

Most people have suffered a panic attack: up to 75 percent of all Americans have suffered from at least one, according to Psychology Today. If you’ve ever suffered from the following symptoms out of the blue, there’s a good chance you have suffered from a panic attack:

  • Pain in the chest
  • Sudden terror
  • Paranoia
  • Nervousness
  • Shaking and sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Heart problems

The frightening nature of panic attacks often makes people turn to drug use in order to avoid ever having another. Sadly, they don’t realize that drugs often contribute to anxiety and panic attacks. Beyond the anxious effect that many drugs cause lies the influence that addiction has on anxiety.

How Addiction Causes Anxiety

When you’re addicted to a substance, your mind focuses heavily on using and obtaining that substance. Failure to do so will cause you anxiety because you don’t want to suffer from the pain of withdrawal. And even if you do obtain and use your substance, your anxiety is liable to increase due to your concern with the legal ramifications of addiction.

So what can you do? Quit cold turkey? It’s possible and many people do it successfully. However, many others find the pain of withdrawal impossible to manage. As a result, they feel anxiety about quitting and keep using. But use only causes more anxiety, especially if you’re using drugs that cause symptoms similar to panic attacks, such as cocaine or amphetamines.

Getting The Help You Need With Dual Diagnosis

If dual diagnosis sounds helpful that’s only because it is: few drug treatment methods are as effective. Why? It takes a two-pronged attack: one prong helps treat the mental problems that cause your addiction (in this case, anxiety) as well as the physical and emotional symptoms of your addiction.

  • Detoxification (if necessary)
  • Health treatments to boost your strength
  • Improved and healthy diet
  • Psychological counseling
  • Talk therapy
  • 12-step therapy

These treatments are designed to help treat the problems caused by your addiction and to find the roof of its origin. And since you suffer from anxiety, a treatment method will be undertaken to help alleviate these problems. For example, you’re likely to learn new coping methods for helping lower your anxiety (such as counting to 10 or calling a friend) and you may be prescribed anti-anxiety medicine.

These medicines can help remove the negative pull that anxiety has taken in your life. Typical anti-anxiety medicines include:

  • Diazepam
  • Zoloft
  • Lorazepam
  • Celexa
  • Lyrica
  • Anafranil
  • Effexor
  • Norpramin
  • Klonopin
  • Buspirone

Make sure to talk to your doctor and your addiction treatment specialist before committing to any medical treatment. Some anti-anxiety medicines will interfere with withdrawal medicines and can cause a variety of dangerous problems. And if you don’t think they’re working, wait four to six weeks before worrying, as it can take that long for them to go into effect.

Please Take Care Of Yourself

As you can see, dual diagnosis is one of the most powerful ways to recover from the co-occurring problems of anxiety and drug addiction. And we are here to help. At TurningPointTreatment.org, we can give you access to a wide range of resources to aid in your recovery. From access to caring counselors to contact information on rehab centers, we are here to help. Contact us today!

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