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anxiety disorders

Many things can trigger anxiety disorders such as financial difficulties, legal trouble, health problems, relationship issues, and the simple or complex challenges of everyday life. Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress. Drugs and alcohol, which are addictive substances, oftentimes can be a quick temporary solution for some of the uncomfortable feelings created by anxiety. Often and sadly, this choice in behavior can create and lead to a path of addiction.

It is estimated that 20 percent of individuals, according to The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, have a substance abuse disorder in addition to. 

Temporary relief is sought after from those living with emotional turmoil, and psychological stress and that includes those who are living with physical issues as well. The form of that temporary relief for those individuals is usually addictive substances like drugs and alcohol. They feel they are relieving their symptoms but in fact, they are making their symptoms of anxiety worse. Learning about how anxiety disorders often can increase the risk of substance abuse can help those individuals avoid increasing their chances of beginning a cycle of addiction.

If you or someone you know has an anxiety disorder, please reach out to us here at Midwood Recovery Center today. 

The Differences Between Anxiety & Anxiety Disorders 

We have a natural alarm system within our bodies to keep us safe and that is what anxiety does for us. It helps keep us safe from perceived danger or threats. We will feel physical sensations of anxiety within our body when we feel threatened or stressed even. These physical sensations can include rapid breathing along with a quickened heartbeat. You may even experience tense muscles, sweaty palms, trembling hands or legs, and even a queasy stomach. These physical; sensations eventually fade in time once the threat that triggered the anxiety reduces or goes away completely. 

When it comes to Anxiety disorders it’s more intense. It’s excessive fear and worry. It feels everlasting and it never quite feels like it even ever goes away completely. It also interferes with daily activities, and once triggered the emotions are difficult to control. Symptoms are usually out of proportion to the actual danger and they can usually last over a long period of time as well. The fear, worry, apprehension, including general uneasiness, is present even when there is nothing to fear. This severe form of anxiety is so debilitating it can cause us to avoid people, places, and situations in its entirety.

The most common anxiety disorders diagnosed today are:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), severe debilitating distress about everyday general concerns that cause constant preoccupation with worry. The worry creates restlessness, and an inability to concentrate.
  • Acute stress disorder (ASD), occurs after a traumatic event, it’s a severe type of anxiety. Chest pain, headaches, sweating, difficulty breathing, and heart palpitations, generally last a month or less.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating form of anxiety. After a traumatic event, it can develop. Common symptoms reported include, but are not limited to, insomnia, irritability, flashbacks, nightmares, hypervigilance, and paranoia. ASD symptoms that occur for more than a month typically indicate PTSD.
  • Panic disorder, random panic attacks that cause shallow breathing, nausea, vomiting, sweating, dizziness, and chest pain.
  • Social anxiety can cause severe self-consciousness. It might even stop them from being around other people entirely depending on the severity. 
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a severe form of anxiety that leads someone to have repeated thoughts which can cause compulsive repetitive behaviors that are or seem to be uncontrollable.
  • Phobias, severe anxiety caused by a deep irrational fear of a situation, an animal, or an object 

Each form of these fears of anxiety differs in a vast amount of ways, they can all be debilitating. They also can increase your risk of substance abuse.

Anxiety Disorders Causing Substance Abuse

Individuals are more likely to use addictive substances research shows who are living with an anxiety disorder. It is estimated by The National Institute on Drug Abuse that people with anxiety will suffer from substance abuse twice as likely compared to those unaffected by an anxiety disorder. The risk is generally increased because:

  • The substances offer temporary relief from anxiety-induced emotional distress
  • Many prescription drugs that are prescribed to lessen pain can also offer short-term relief from any number of physical anxiety symptoms
  • Severe psychological anxiety symptoms can convince people to try to self-medicate in order to cope

Needing Relief from Emotional Issues When Having Anxiety 

People who suffer from anxiety disorders often experience emotional distress. For example:

  • Constant excessive worry all the time and feeling agitated, restless, or irritable can compel individuals to drink to help take the edge off
  • Insomnia, where you cannot sleep at night, can cause people to start over-using prescription medicines such as Ambien, Xanax, Restoril, and Lunesta
  • Those looking to completely dissociate from reality might start relying on ketamine, LCD, PCP, and various other hallucinogens
  • People who struggle with fatigue from anxiety may take stimulants such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and prescription stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin

There’s a temporary relief with these substances but there’s a crash after these substances wear off. The crash will typically cause them to continue to use the substance over again. Unfortunately, this can lead to misuse and abuse, and ultimately in time, addiction.

Prescription Painkillers and Opioids Usually Provide Temporary Relief from the Physical Symptoms of Anxiety

Physical pain such as heart palpitations, tense muscles, stomach pain, headaches, nausea, trembling, shallow breathing, and headaches can be caused by anxiety. Several people take prescription painkillers to keep from experiencing this kind of physical pain, this pain can be debilitating and disrupt their everyday daily lives. Even legal substances, the misuse of them and the abuse can ultimately lead to addiction.

Self-Medicating to Manage Psychological Distress

Feeling helpless and hopeless which makes you feel like you are living in a state of constant impending doom can lead to substance abuse. Which is what anxiety can create for many people. In addition, anxiety can cause hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia, which can also increase drinking and drug use.

Anxiety Links in Causes Changes to the Brain Making a Person More Susceptible to Substance Use

A small almond-shaped gland, known as the amygdala when put under constant anxiety will grow larger. This gland regulates emotions and mood. The enlargement more than often causes hyperactivity. The connection between the prefrontal cortex and amygdala is also weakened because of anxiety. Due to that connection being weakened people struggle with reasoning rationally. With all these brain changes people are more exposed to having stronger drug and alcohol impulses altogether.

Mental Health Rehab and Addiction Treatment That’s Brain Focused to Overcome Substance Use and Anxiety Disorders

Substance abuse and anxiety are both different, both disorders develop in the brain. With that said, we approach it with a brain-focused directive in treating mental health disorders and addiction challenges. 

Our dual diagnosis mental health rehab program is designed specifically to help restore the brain to an ideal state of health. We combine innovative brain science with evidence-based therapy techniques, nutrition, and exercise to help overcome their mental health and addiction challenges. 

Your struggles and challenges don’t have to be your lifelong story. We can help you recover and begin again, starting a new chapter amidst your lifelong story. Positive change can happen, contact Midwood today.