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Anxiety and Addiction

Anxiety and Addiction

Anxiety and addiction are a common mental affliction that many Americans suffer with.  Substance abuse is a common physiological and psychological affliction that many Americans also suffer with.  Because of what substance abuse does to the mind and body of a human being, anxiety also often goes hand in hand with substance abuse.

What can happen a lot of the time is that anxiety can lead to substance abuse.  A lot of times people will suffer with mild to severe anxiety and then abuse drugs and alcohol as a means of attempting to get the upper hand on their anxiety problem.  This never works out the way they want it to obviously, and rather the problem usually becomes a lot worse in the long run anyways.  Substance abuse rehabilitation doesn’t cure anxiety.  Anxiety is something that has to be handled with close work one on one either with oneself or a counselor of some kind.  Personal self-discovery and education often erase anxiety, as does a change of location, living in a different home, a new career decision, changing those whom one spends time with, etc.  Basically one needs to get down to the bottom in one’s very own psyche of why he or she so suffers from anxiety and go from there as far as handling it goes.  Trying to use drugs and alcohol to handle anxiety is like trying to use a Band-Aid that’s been dipped in poison to cover a gaping wound.  Not only will it not help, it will actually make things far, far worse in the long run.

For other individuals, addiction came first and then anxiety followed.  There are a lot of drugs and some alcohols too that produce anxiety in those who take them.  In fact, drug and alcohol abuse and addiction has been known to cause heightened degrees of anxiety in those who take them.  Abusing drugs and abusing alcohol affects the human body’s natural levels of dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins.  These same chemicals affect anxiety levels, and when one abuses drugs or alcohol he or she very often will feel intense levels of anxiety, even if he or she never felt those feelings before in his or her life.

Regardless of which came first, be it the substance abuse or the anxiety and addiction, anxiety can become a vicious cycle of back and forth with one contributing to the severity and general persistence of the other. Anxiety must be taken seriously as something that could lead to even worse substance abuse and other problems in the future.  Truly, the longer the cycle of self-medicating, anxiety and then rebounding continues, the more difficult it is to address either issue and recovery becomes even more challenging.  Truthfully the more underlying issues one has to address in rehab, (anxiety being one of these), the higher the likelihood it is that one will not be able to beat his or her addiction problem.

Anxiety: A Common Disorder

According to WebMD:

“Anxiety is known as the Western world’s most common mental disorder to date, with an estimated eighteen percent of the entire population of the United States struggling with various types of anxiety such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD); post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), agoraphobia or other specific phobias. Approximately 20 percent of those people are addicted to drugs or alcohol, with an even higher rate of addiction among certain groups such as veterans or victims of rape or other trauma.”

Anxiety, when coupled with drug abuse or alcohol abuse, makes for a situation that is tricky and quite difficult to resolve and cure.  Mental health researchers and professionals alike have discovered that it essentially does not work to only treat one of the two problems without also focusing on the other one too.  Anxiety and its counterpart of addiction must be treated simultaneously.  If they are not and if only the addiction aspect is treated, then it is more likely than not that the individual will relapse on to drugs and alcohol as a result of a severe attack of anxiety.

Just saying that addressing both anxiety and addiction is the way to go is all fine and good but, unfortunately it is not as simple as it sounds.  For example, many individuals avoid drug and alcohol treatment because they are fearful of extreme anxiety that might result from them kicking their habits, especially during their withdrawal off of drugs and alcohol. The way to get past this though it to just find a good drug and alcohol treatment center or rehab program or facility that is essentially well-equipped to help people manage anxiety and other difficulties that may occur as a result of them trying to kick their addiction habits.

A Few Highly Successful Therapies for Anxiety and Addiction

There are lots of different ways to approach treating anxiety and addiction and some techniques will work for some people whereas other techniques will work better for others.  One highly successful approach to addressing anxiety is through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, (shortened most if the time to CBT), which can offer insight and can help people change negative thinking patterns and computations; or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR), which can address some of the physiological manifestations of anxiety. There are lots of other ways to address anxiety.  Some of them are more physically-based activities like yoga, meditation, exercise, or acupuncture. Other people will respond better to a more one-on-one addressing of their anxiety problem through such counseling methods as an Underlying Issues Assessment, or Moral Reconation Therapy.

Help for Friends and Family of Such Addicts

One can’t forget about oneself when worrying and concerning about an addicted family member or loved one.  Trying to help a person with an anxiety disorder and a substance abuse habit both is certainly challenging, especially for spouses and partners of the addict as well as their children.  One needs to make sure that he or she always takes time to take care of themselves too.  It’s of no use to the addict if his or her main caregivers are unable to help them due to them struggling with their own problems.  When one feels weakness coming on in the face of anxiety and addiction, one must take a step back and reassess.  One needs to coolly and calmly focus on oneself for a bit and get away from the addict for a short while, then dive back in and try to help the addicted loved one.

Good Advice for Helping Anxiety and Addiction in Individuals

Listed below are some tips and tricks that one can use when trying to figure out how to help someone who is addicted to drugs and alcohol and is also suffering with an anxiety problem.  The two issues often go hand in hand, and they need to be handled simultaneously and meticulously too.

For some advice on the matter:

  • Learn about the disorder and get yourself educated on the many ways in which anxiety affects brain chemistry, cognizant mental though, and spiritual happiness producing negative thinking that triggers even more anxiety later on.  With knowledge comes power and the ability to handle any given situation, and this knowledge will allow you to better handle the difficult situations in the future.
  • Encourage your friend or family member and keep on encouraging them to seek out treatment for anxiety and addiction problems both.  Never give up on this due diligence of encouragement.  One of these days it’ll bite and the individual will be willing to seek out help.
  • Ask your family member or loved one exactly how you can help them, and then listen carefully to what they have to say about their problems. Don’t judge them for their problems.  Be understanding, caring, and compassionate of their difficult and upsetting situation.  Really care for them and do your best to make them feel better about their current situations.
  • Understand for yourself that anxiety isn’t relieved by reasoning or logic or cognizant thought by any means at all, no matter how hard you try to accomplish this task. Anxiety isn’t something you can explain away or not worry about just because you want to or because you don’t want to suffer any more.  You must understand it fully before you can really hope to help someone who suffers with it.
  • Rely on your own support system too, and use that support system to better help your loved one. Seek out help and assistance from other family members and loved ones too.  These individuals can really help you a lot, and they can assist you in helping the addicted loved one directly.

Knowing someone who is addicted to drugs and alcohol and who is suffering with a drug or alcohol abuse or addiction problem too is certainly a difficult and challenging situation to say the least.  This is a problem that is faced by many in the United States today, but it is a surmountable problem to say the least.  With the proper help and assistance and education, you can help your family member or loved one beat both anxiety and addiction once and for all.

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