Are Anxiety and Addiction Linked?

Addiction always stems from a root cause. Mental health and addiction are very intertwined. Sometimes, this root cause can be anxiety. Whether the anxiety is diagnosed or undiagnosed, anxiety can often lead to addiction for a variety of reasons. People often feel the need to want to numb their anxiety with drugs or alcohol, or they are trying to legitimately get help for their anxiety and get prescribed addictive medications. Because of this, it is important to understand the link between anxiety and addiction.

Understanding Anxiety

According to the National Institute on Mental Health, occasional anxiety is an expected part of life. You might feel anxious when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision. However, anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. The symptoms can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships.

Types of anxiety disorders include:

  • General Anxiety Disorder
  • Social Anxiety
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Separation Anxiety

Anxiety Symptoms

Anxiety can have some very debilitating symptoms. They can force people to isolate themselves, never leave their homes and become distant from their loved ones. It can affect every aspect of their lives and one way people seek to treat these symptoms is to use drugs or alcohol. Suddenly, they are able to be energetic, hold conversations or stop panic attacks from happening.

However, this is only a short-term solution that can lead to overdose and death. In the end, addiction does nothing but exacerbate anxiety and make it even worse. One of the major side effects of addiction is severe anxiety. This anxiety from addiction coupled with an existing anxiety disorder can bring on disastrous problems.

Some of the many symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Muscle tension
  • Disorientation
  • Fear
  • Dread
  • Paranoia
  • Restlessness
  • The need to keep busy
  • Inability to socialize
  • Isolation

Addictive Anxiety Medications

In an effort to deal with the symptoms associated with anxiety, many people may turn to prescription medication. When taken as prescribed, medications can be a helpful tool for overcoming the debilitating effects of anxiety, and people can live more normal lives. These medications work to literally calm the mind and body so that it is not so overactive. However, when medications are abused and not taken as directed, people can become addicted. The calming effects of the medications can be addicting, and lead to a euphoric effect when taken in excess. Some of these addictive medications include:

  • Xanax
  • Lexapro
  • Prozac
  • Paxil
  • Librium
  • Klonopin
  • Valium
  • Ativan
  • Zoloft

It is very easy to become addicted to anxiety medications. Addiction is actually warned to patients as a potential side effect. If you or someone you love has become addicted to their medication, there are a few red flags you can look out for. For example, when someone becomes addicted to their anxiety medication, they may seek multiple prescriptions from multiple doctors. They take way more than prescribed and often run out of their prescription quickly. They may also visit multiple pharmacies to fill their prescription, or even purchase it on the black market. If you are taking anxiety medication, make sure you work closely with your doctor to make sure you do not become addicted.

Can You Treat Anxiety and Addiction Together?

When it comes to treating a person’s addiction, it is important to understand the root cause. If a person’s root cause of addiction is their anxiety, it is crucial to treat that as well. Overcoming addiction is much more than just abstaining from substances. It’s more about treating the root of the problem so that the addiction does not pop up again. This is done through dual diagnosis treatment.

Dual Diagnosis

When someone has a co-occurring disorder alongside their addiction, such as anxiety, both can be successfully treated in dual diagnosis treatment. Dual diagnosis recovery blends mental health care and substance abuse treatment instead of treating them as separate issues. This is because one in four adults with a mental illness is also reported to have a substance abuse disorder.

About Pinelands Recovery Center

Anxiety can be debilitating to live with every day. Overcoming panic attacks, stressful situations and physical symptoms of anxiety can easily drive people to substance abuse and eventual addiction. If you or a loved one suffers from an addiction as a result of their anxiety, help for both is available. No two addictions are the same, and no two anxiety disorders are the same. An individualized treatment plan will be made just for you and will help you break free from the prison that anxiety and addiction have held you in for so long.

Pinelands Recovery Center of Medford is widely known as one of New Jersey’s finest, most respected addiction treatment facilities. With comfortable 30-bed accommodations and 24-hour professional staff, we can offer clients a serene, relaxing environment amid the lush piney woods. This stress-free setting with its sense of warmth and welcoming enables you to feel comfortable and confident about your clean and sober life ahead.

We will establish clear goals, both general in nature and specific to your needs. We continue to monitor those goals, to make sure that our clients are progressing and buying into their recovery plan. We thrive on assisting clients in feeling connected to the recovery community, share and demonstrate effective coping techniques, help clients to modify attitudes and patterns of behavior and everything else you will need to be happy and productive living a sober, healthy life.

We ensure that clients complete their planned concrete tasks, encourage hope, optimism and healthy living. Our recovery program is not a revolving door treatment program; it is a recovery model designed to help clients go on to lead productive, happy lives. For more information, visit