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Anxiety and Addiction Treatment

The Link Between Anxiety Disorders And Substance Abuse

Anxiety disorders are a type of mental illness characterized by high levels of fear disproportionate to the actual situation in which someone with an anxiety disorder finds themselves. Common anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, and social phobia.

An anxiety disorder is actually the most common mental health condition that people suffer from in the United States. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million American adults suffer from some form of anxiety disorder.

Generalized anxiety disorder, the most prevalent anxiety disorder, is thought to affect 6.8 million American adults, and panic disorder is the second most common anxiety disorder as it affects six million American adults.

Unfortunately, only 43 percent of those with generalized anxiety disorder and 37 percent of those suffering from any anxiety disorder are receiving treatment, despite the fact that generalized anxiety disorder and similar conditions tend to be highly treatable.

Some anxiety disorders are thought to arise from a genetic predisposition that leads to chemical imbalances, as can be evidenced by the fact that anxiety disorders tend to run in families in which a family history of anxiety disorder and other mental illness can be traced.

Others anxiety disorders, like post traumatic stress disorder, are usually associated with a specific triggering traumatic event, though family history and chemical imbalances may also still play a role in how strongly any individual reacts to a specific traumatic event.

Ongoing traumatic experiences like child abuse, other family dysfunction, and bullying, can also raise the risk of anxiety disorders like generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or social anxiety disorder as the brain “learns” that life is a scary and unstable place and reacts by increasing symptoms of anxiety in a misguided attempt to keep you as safe as possible.

An anxiety disorder can involve physical or psychological symptoms, which can create an unpleasant feedback loop when physical symptoms of anxiety disorder like trouble sleeping or the trouble breathing during acute episodes of panic disorder worsen the psychological symptoms associated with an anxiety disorder by further destabilizing someone’s brain chemistry.

Generalized anxiety disorder and related conditions can also frequently co occur with other mental health conditions like substance use disorders. According to a recent study that references American Psychiatric Association criteria, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and post traumatic stress disorder have all been definitively associated with increased rates of substance abuse among their patients.

This may be largely because because someone with an anxiety disorder who does not have access to adequate mental health care may try to treat anxiety themselves by engaging in substance abuse to relieve the unpleasant emotions associated with their symptoms of anxiety disorders, a phenomenon which is known as self medication.

Though substance abuse can relieve symptoms of anxiety in the short term, in the long term, the alterations to brain chemistry caused by drug addiction will make anxiety disorders worse by putting the brain in a more unstable state. The web can get even more tangled because substance abuse or withdrawal from certain substances can cause symptoms that resemble anxiety but that would likely resolve if the substance abuse would cease.

This means that the two are often co occurring disorders, which is also known as dual diagnosis. Around fifty percent of those who meet the diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder also have symptoms of anxiety or other co occurring disorders, which also means that most American addiction centers are also equipped to treat anxiety and other mental health conditions.

While drug addiction is not generally considered an anxiety related condition, treating any underlying anxiety disorder is generally considered essential to achieving lasting recovery from substance abuse, and the opposite also tends to be true.

What To Expect in Treatment Centers For Co Occurring Substance Abuse And An Associated Anxiety Disorder

Someone whose substance abuse to cope with an anxiety disorder has escalated to a full blown substance use disorder will generally need to begin their mental health journey at specialized drug or alcohol rehab facility.

This is especially true if the person’s drug abuse or alcohol abuse has escalated to the point of a physical dependency, in which case more severe withdrawal symptoms can be physically dangerous as well as emotionally excruciating, especially in the case of alcohol addiction.

But even less physically dangerous forms of withdrawal can intensify anxiety to the point that drug abuse liability becomes too high for many patients to go through it unsupervised. After these biochemical factors have evened out, the real work of emotional recovery can begin.

Exactly what you can expect from a treatment provider depends on the specific treatment facility you choose, but a treatment overview should start with a discussion of individual therapy, which is often the first line of defense when it comes to addressing dual diagnosis.

One common option is dialectical behavioral therapy, which helps address symptoms of anxiety disorders and other mental health issues by teaching patients emotional regulation and communication skills. These include exercises designed to increase mindfulness, which helps patients to focus on the present moment as opposed to letting their symptoms of anxiety about far future events send them into overwhelming panic attacks.

Other treatment options include cognitive behavioral therapy, which can help address anxiety and substance abuse by helping the patient to reframe negative thoughts and replace them with more realistic ones, and to learn coping mechanisms other than substance abuse that they can use to cope with their anxiety symptoms.

For example, they may be advised to call a friend or engage in a fun activity in a situation where they might typically misuse alcohol, or to cope with panic attacks by reminding themselves of the reasons why their intense reaction is not a rational one.

Prescription medications are also often part of the quest to treat depression and anxiety disorders. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors can be associated with positive outcomes for these kinds of psychiatric disorders, working to even out emotional responses so that anxiety symptoms are not so overwhelming that one feels the need to resort to drug abuse or alcohol abuse to help control them.

Family therapy is also helpful to many dual diagnosis patients, especially those for whom mental health issues effect family members other than the one suffering from co occurring anxiety and addiction. A certified addiction professional can help families analyze the problematic family dynamics that may be fueling anxiety and addiction, as well as to work through the harm to family members that substance use disorders tend to cause.

American addiction centers also often offer group therapy to patients with dual diagnosis of anxiety and addiction. A certified addiction professional will facilitate as patients discuss their experiences of co occurring substance use disorders and other psychiatric disorders, including anxiety disorders.

In this, patients learn that they are not alone in struggling to cope with their anxiety symptoms, and they also may learn strategies that others like themselves have found helpful in coping with co occurring anxiety and addiction.

Especially for patients with social anxiety disorder or social phobia, this presents patients with a valuable way to make friends, and thus to obtain the long lasting emotional support that most people with substance use disorders need to overcome their mental illness and achieve long lasting sobriety.

Many American addiction centers also incorporate more holistic options to patients dealing with anxiety disorders, which are aimed at helping to heal the whole person rather than only the addiction per se.

Often, these can include measures like a physical exam that can address any health problems that may be fueling psychological symptoms, as well as methods like nutritional education, art therapy, and exercise-related activities.

These may be a particularly powerful intervention because exercise releases endorphins, which create a feeling of well being that can be helpful to those with mood disorders. The emphasis on focusing on the present moment conveyed through mind-body exercises like yoga is also helpful to many patients dealing with anxiety disorders.

Mental Health And Addiction Treatment At Reco Intensive

Reco Intensive is known as one of the best substance abuse treatment centers in the South Florida area as well as one of the best American addiction centers period. We are equipped to handle patients suffering from various anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, and many others.

We are accredited as a trustworthy treatment provider by the National Institute of Health as well as by several other reputable organizations, and the Delray Beach location of our treatment facility also provides a relaxing environment perfect for overcoming an anxiety disorder as well as substance abuse.

To learn more about how our comprehensive treatment centers can help you or someone you care about to overcome their anxiety disorder and associated substance abuse issues, feel free to call us anytime at 844.955.3042 or to contact us online anytime here. It’s about time that you got back on the road to a brighter future.

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