Anxiety Disorder Treatment and Addiction

What is Anxiety Disorder?

Dual Diagnosis for Anxiety
Anxiety Disorder and Addiction

Anxiety is a pattern of frequent worry that causes significant distress and interferes with social, occupational and educational functioning. There are several types of anxiety disorder. The two most common ones seen in addicts are generalized anxiety and social phobia disorder.

People who struggle with anxiety feel extremely fearful and panicky, have obsessive thoughts and avoid situations that induce anxiety. The anxiety will be present and unchanging and last at least 6 months. Worry can be about health or potential health problems, family problems, concerns about money in the present coupled with worries about the future or any combination of worries. Worries can be with or without real cause. Many addicts self-medicate anxiety with drugs and alcohol to decrease and find relief from symptoms.

Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder

Symptoms of anxiety can be overwhelming. People with anxiety may try to hide symptoms with substance abuse.

Anxiety symptoms include:

  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Avoidance of situations that provoke distress
  • Feared social or performance situations, which interferes with functioning
  • Recognition that the fear is excessive or unreasonable

Anxiety and Substance Abuse

People with anxiety disorders are usually prescribed benzodiazepine drugs, including Valium, Xanax or Ativan. Benzodiazepines are highly addictive and have a high risk for abuse. Whether or not an addict has been formally diagnosed with anxiety, he or she will look for substances to decrease symptoms.

Some substances exacerbate anxiety symptoms. For example, an alcoholic who is detoxing usually experiences anxiety symptoms even without a formal anxiety diagnosis. He or she will have to learn anxiety management techniques to manage symptoms even after detox. The anxious addict should not take any type of mood-altering medication because of the potential for abuse. Lakeview Health’s medical and clinical team will be sure to help addicts manage anxiety while remaining sober.

Anxiety Disorder and Addiction Treatment

When anxiety disorders are combined with drug and alcohol addiction, the ability to manage their symptoms is greatly reduced. If a person has an undiagnosed anxiety disorder and he or she takes a substance to ease the symptoms, withdrawal from the drug will increase the level of anxiety. A cycle develops of anxiety, substance use and withdrawal. After the correlation between an anxiety disorder and substance abuse is established, dual diagnosis treatment is the best approach to stabilize both conditions.