We’ve talked much about mental disorders and their relation to drug addiction through this blog. However, just like any of these disorders, anxiety is an illness that can be looked into at great length for its effects on treatment are just as strong as the addictions it may cause.
Many anxious people require substances of some sort that allow them to feel at ease. Medications that cause their central nervous system to slow down and relieve them of constricting thoughts are most common, however alcohol is also very common due to its wide availability.
Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs typically prescribed to alleviate symptoms of anxiety within a patient. Commonly prescribed benzodiazepines include Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin, and Valium.
These medications, while highly effective, are also highly addictive and are cause for concern when taken regularly. The most commonly abused benzodiazepine is Xanax due to it’s effectiveness and sedating effects. The risk for dependence is high, even with a legitimate prescription from a doctor.
When considered, one of the biggest problems with addiction is the cycle of constantly looking for a quick fix. Seeking out something to alter our moods in order to ease those unwanted emotions. This is why dual diagnosis has been taken much more seriously in the last couple decades rather than before. For those unaware, a dual diagnosis is when an addiction is diagnosed alongside a mental disorder. It’s becoming apparent to many professionals that without treating the two together, further complications will inevitably follow after treatment.
For in the end, the goal of addiction is beyond getting one into a sober life. Rather, it’s about changing one’s perspective on what life can be. Changing their perspective into a drug-free and productively optimistic future.
Understanding Anxiety and its Effects on the Mind
The American Psychological Association distinguishes anxiety as an emotion of pure tension. A rigidity of worried thoughts that even come with some physical changes – such as increased blood pressure. Everyone has anxiety to some regard, as it’s a natural way of reacting to stress.
However, what will be discussed throughout this blog is that of an anxiety disorder – a condition where anxiety is prominent to a person’s overall emotional stability and controls them on a day-to-day basis. With that, those with this condition generally seek out some kind of coping method, whether it be prescription medication from a doctor, cognitive behavioral therapy, or different self-medication methods such as alcohol or drug use.
To a person with anxiety, using substances is a means of self-medicating. It’s a way these individuals go about coping with their symptoms. In comparison to the general population, substance abuse is much more common in people with anxiety. In fact, the National Institute of Drug Abuse estimates that people with the disorder are twice as likely to seek out something that will sufficiently alter their mood.
This is important in regards to treatment because it also gives anxious individuals more problems within rehab. For one, it’s been scientifically proven that people of the disorder experience more severe addiction withdrawal symptoms. To top it off, they all have more of a chance at relapse. The situation after addiction rehabilitation where someone goes back to abusing a substance.
If only anxious individuals were aware that drugs do anything but medicate their emotions. Rather, they actually make anxiety worse. It’s a ruthless cycle when really considered. People of the disorder seek out something to calm their tension.
Though the tension might be calmed for a moment of time, it always returns as the drug wears off. This leads them to feeling the necessity for more. And as a tolerance is built to certain chemicals, there will be the need to intake more in order to feel the calming effects. With the need for a drug constantly growing and building, so one’s anxiety.
For us to continue on the subject, it’s vital we differentiate the difference between anxiety and an anxiety disorder. As mentioned above, everyone experiences anxiety from one time to another. An anxiety disorder is when these tense feelings become so prominent, it leaves a large impact on one’s life.
What to Look Out For
There are some things to look out for if you’re skeptical that a loved one has an anxiety disorder. People who suffer generally tend to avoid certain day-to-day activities that the general population finds no problem with. They do this as a means of avoiding anxiety.
Sometimes, people of the disorder also experience uncomfortable physical sensations. This inevitably could lead to physical health problems.
The following are symptoms of an anxiety disorder. If you’re skepticality matches some of these conditions, you might want to think about talking to your loved one. Anxiety disorders are treatable and should be done so through a professional manner. For without that, one may end up seeking self-medication.
- Nervousness/restlessness/and a consistent feeling of tension
- Rapid heart rate
- Increased of heavy sweating
- Weakness or lethargy
- Loss of concentration or focus
- Fear of large amounts of people
- Insomnia and/or poor rest
- Chest pain
- Feelings of constant danger/dread/or panic
- Rapid breathing/hyperventilation
- Muscle trembles/twitching
- An overwhelming sensation of fear/panic/uneasiness/nervousness/worry
- Inability to relax or get comfortable
- Excessive sweating
- Muscle tension/soreness
There are three different anxiety disorders to be aware of. Each are of their own context, but there are instances where individuals will experience more than one of these at once.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
To sum it up, GAD is when a person feels – what seems to be – unexplainable anxiety on a day-to-day basis.
Studies have found that a little more than 3% of the U.S. population suffers from GAD. Less than half of those people are receiving treatment.
If an individual feels a consistent stream of panic attacks, they could be suffering from a panic disorder. Often, these co-occur with depression.
Social Anxiety Disorder
To put it simple, individuals with SAD generally only feel anxious in social situations. Which is much more frequently than some understand. Whether it’s work, school, a family/friendly event, we find ourselves in social situations on a day-to-day basis.
People with SAD find it hard to handle these day-to-day situations. It makes them feel tense. And their comfortable preference is in alone corders.
As mentioned above, anxiety disorder is something that can be treated. Parallel to this, drug addiction can, likewise, be treated. With a dual diagnosis, you’re given the ability to not only enter sobriety, but to take away the problems that have led to substance abuse.
When seeking alcohol and/or drug treatment, an important aspect to remember is that you find a facility that can properly handle treating an anxiety disorder. If you’re preparing yourself to undergo such a huge life change, you’re going to want to receive only the most professional help available.
This is due to the fact that a dual diagnosis is much more difficult to treat in comparison to just drug addiction. When considered, the professionals at hand are in charge of guiding you out of two illnesses.
Typically, individuals who receive a dual diagnosis enter an inpatient program or an intensive outpatient program. Since a dual diagnosis is such a big (and often complicated) problem in an individual’s life, there’s lots to be done in terms of treatment. So much so that it’s vital the individual takes the time and effort to completely focus on these problems and finding a solution. An inpatient or outpatient program offers just this along with the safety of being under professional guidance.
When talking about anxiety, it’s fairly common for people going through substance abuse detox to experience attacks – usually due to the lack of “self-medication”. When the body undergoes a drainage of chemicals that have always made it feel good, the mind has the tendency to not know how to handle the situation. Therefore, it doesn’t come to much of a surprise that anxiety attacks can occur.
If an individual were to do this on their own terms, it may be all too difficult to handle. To top it off, there’s also more of a risk they’ll seek out means of self-medication. However, within an inpatient program or an intensive outpatient program, individuals are assured their under proper professional guidance. Inevitably, making the possible anxiety attacks more of an ease to experience.
It must be considered that under this professional help, you will have the ability to let yourself open up emotionally. And when undergoing such a life changing process, this is very important to the better of yourself as an individual.
If you or anyone you love has anxiety and/or a substance addiction or you’re looking for more information on the subject, Stonewall Institute Treatment Center is more than happy to help. Please, give us a call at (602) 535 6468 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.