February 14, 2019

Can Anxiety Cause Addiction?

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a disorder that affects millions of people. It is defined as: “a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior or panic attacks.”

Anxiety can stem from a traumatic event, such as military combat or abuse, or anxiety can manifest naturally, like with General Anxiety Disorder or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. No two people with anxiety are alike or suffer the exact same symptoms. It is a complex disorder that needs medical or psychiatric attention, or else it can worsen and other issues can stem from it.

Some types of anxiety include:

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

Symptoms of Anxiety

Since anxiety and its symptoms are so broad, someone who has anxiety can experience all symptoms, or only some of them. Symptoms of anxiety can be debilitating, affecting people as much as multiple times a day. These symptoms can severely impact daily life, making it impossible for people to work, have relationships and live a normal life.

Some symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks may include:

  • Muscle tension
  • Nausea
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fear
  • Feelings of dread
  • Restlessness and inability to relax
  • Inability to socialize, wanting to be alone
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Disorientation

Anxiety and Addiction

Anxiety can cause addiction, and it can happen in many ways. It can be accidental, such as someone who is taking addictive medication to help with their symptoms. It can be self-medicating undiagnosed anxiety, or someone who has been diagnosed but hasn’t yet found healthy ways to cope with it.

Anxiety Medication

Due to the wide range of symptoms and types of anxiety that someone can experience, there are many different medications to help treat them. Taking medication for anxiety can benefit someone greatly, allowing them to live a generally symptom-free life. Working closely with your doctor, you may need to try a couple different types before you find the one that works best for you.

Types of anxiety medications include:

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

The problem with anxiety medications is that they are highly addictive. It can become easy for someone to grow tolerant of their dosage and want to take more to experience the effects. This can lead to taking more than the recommended dosage, getting more prescriptions from multiple doctors and visiting multiple pharmacies to have them filled.

This can further lead to buying pills from the black market, or trying other drugs to obtain a high. Slipping into drug addiction is common for people taking anxiety medications, so make sure you are honest with your doctor as far as your dosage or if you are experiencing any warning signs of addiction.

Self Medicating

When people are suffering from anxiety, they often withdraw and isolate from loved ones in order to avoid having a panic attack. They can become very antisocial or socially awkward, not willing to have conversations with new people or attend social events. It can be hard to establish relationships whether they are romantic, with new friends or even with coworkers.

In an effort to be more outgoing or talkative, people with anxiety may self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. They might get more confidence in approaching people or situations that they wouldn’t normally feel comfortable approaching. People also may see drugs and alcohol as a way to be accepted by those around them who are already using.

In addition, drugs and alcohol offer an irresistible euphoric feeling that help those suffering from anxiety to temporarily numb their negative thoughts, memories or emotions. However, in the long run, this only makes their anxiety worse. The worse the anxiety becomes, the worse the substance abuse becomes. Then, the cycle toward rock bottom begins.

Dual Diagnosis

Dual diagnosis treatment is the treatment of two or more co-occurring disorders at the same time. When it comes to addiction, there is always an underlying cause. Underlying causes can include environmental influences, family history of addiction, history of trauma and co-occurring mental or mood disorders. If the underlying cause of addiction is not addressed during treatment, the addiction will eventually grow back.

Abstaining from drugs and alcohol is only one component of addiction treatment. The only way to truly live a healthy, happy life in recovery is to address all underlying causes and learn how to deal with them. When a trigger or event that can cause anxiety presents itself, it’s crucial to learn how to deal with them in a positive way rather than leaning on substance abuse.

About Pinelands Recovery Center

If you are ready to overcome your anxiety and addiction issues, we are here for you. The best hope for long-term sobriety with a low probability of relapse is to address your anxiety. We offer you a safe space to open up about your anxiety and what triggers you. We can teach you how to overcome your anxiety and addiction issues to live a healthy, happy life.

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 a 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 pinelandsrecovery.com

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About Jaclyn Uloth

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