Anxiety Disorder Treatment and Addiction
What is Anxiety Disorder?
Anxiety is a pattern of frequent worry which causes significant distress and interferes with social, occupational and educational functioning. There are several types of anxiety disorder; however the two most common ones found in addicts are Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and social anxiety disorder.
People who suffer from anxiety feel extremely fearful and panicky, have obsessive thought, and will avoid situations that are anxiety provoking. 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 will self-medicate anxiety with drugs and alcohol to decrease and find relief from symptoms.
Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder
Symptoms of anxiety can be overwhelming and individuals with anxiety may attempt to hide symptoms from onlookers with substance abuse.
Anxiety symptoms include
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle tension
- Sleep disturbance
- Avoidance of situations which provoke distress
- Feared social or performance situations, which interferes with functioning
- Recognition that the fear is excessive or unreasonable
Anxiety and Substance Abuse
People who suffer from anxiety disorders are usually prescribed benzodiazepine drugs such as Valium, Xanax and Ativan. Benzodiazepines are highly addictive and therefore 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 unwanted symptoms.
Some substances exacerbate anxiety symptoms. For example, an alcoholic who is detoxing will inevitably report anxious symptoms although no formal anxiety diagnosis has been made. 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 Systems’ 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 suffers from 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. In this manner, a cyclic relationship develops between anxiety, substance use and withdrawal.
Once the correlation between an anxiety disorder and substance abuse is established, dual diagnosis treatment is the best approach to stabilize both conditions.