Anxiety and Addiction

Anxiety is part of the human “fight or flight” response that ensures our survival, but chronic anxiety can interfere with one’s ability to live a productive and happy life. Many people who live with chronic anxiety turn to drugs and alcohol to feel more at ease with what life brings their way. Once a person with anxiety experiences a new level of calm and focus, drugs and alcohol become a tool, and addiction soon follows.

What is Anxiety?

In the most basic terms, anxiety is a feeling or concern or worry. We often feel this emotion when we find ourselves in strange or unusual circumstances. The sensation may subside once we become comfortable or remove ourselves from the environment. People with chronic anxiety feel uneasy in every situation, even when they are alone. They may dwell on memories or concerns about the future. A person who suffers from anxiety feel paralyzed in every moment and every area of life.

What are the Signs of Anxiety?

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a condition in which feelings of worry and concern affect a person’s ability to function. People with GAD are programmed to find problems rather than addressing problems as they arise. Signs of anxiety are:

  • Depression
  • Chronic exhaustion and fatigue
  • Exaggerating circumstances (“Chicken Little” behavior)
  • Chronic migraines and headaches
  • Being hyper alert
  • Restlessness and inability to relax
  • Being irritable
  • Difficulty focusing and concentrating
  • Being “on edge”
  • Being very quiet or talking excessively
  • Fast heart rate
  • Lightheadedness
  • Cold sweats

A person with chronic anxiety may also have a panic disorder that causes chest pains, hyperventilation, stomach cramps, nausea, heart palpitations and other physical symptoms.

What are the Risk Factors for Anxiety?

People with anxiety often have histories of unstable family situations. The condition may also develop from certain work environments and relationships where one’s emotional and physical safety is uncertain. Substance use may worsen a person’s anxiety tendencies.

How is Anxiety Diagnosed?

Our mental health counselors are trained to assess an individual for signs of generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder. This may involve a review of a person’s current circumstances or history.

How Does Anxiety Affect Addiction?

People with anxiety may be attracted to substances that help them stop thinking and relax. The change in life experience teaches the person’s brain that substance use in rewarding in a unique way. The person may continue to use drugs and alcohol as a type of self-medication, and with repeat use, the addiction takes hold.

What Treatment is Available for Anxiety and Addiction?

You may come to our facility already experiencing the effects of anxiety or your detox process may trigger anxiety. Our physicians and mental health counselors monitor your progress and intervene as needed. After detox, we will help you understand your anxiety disorder and ways that you can manage life without triggering an anxiety response. Treatment will include counseling, and we may also recommend anti-anxiety medications. Identifying the fears behind your anxiety often releases you from the grip of this unhealthy behavior and allows you to use self-care in a more positive manner. The new life skills that you learn replace your dependence on drugs and alcohol.

“Fight or flight” is ingrained into every human psyche as a means for survival, but traumatic events can affect us in a way that leaves us with a never-ending feeling of dread. You may rely on drugs and alcohol to manage the symptoms, but there is a better way. Contact us today to speak with an addiction counselor and schedule an assessment.

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