Anxiety and Substance Abuse

Many people suffer from co-occurring disorders such as anxiety and addiction.

Anxiety and addiction often come up in conversation together because they feed off each other. However, what are anxiety disorders? After all, anxiety is a natural emotion that many people feel at some point in their lives. How do you know if you have a disorder?

Panic disorder, social anxiety, and separation anxiety are all types of anxiety disorders. That said, the most common type is generalized anxiety disorder. It involves avoiding activities or events that are outside your normal routine.anxiety and addiction

When people suffer from anxiety disorders, it’s important that they seek treatment because abusing drugs to cope with anxiety is common. Unfortunately, using drugs as a coping mechanism quickly leads to substance abuse and eventually addiction.

Alcohol and anxiety are very closely linked. People who suffer from high anxiety tend to drink in uncomfortable situations to deal with their emotions. Thankfully, dual diagnosis treatment can address the co-occurrence of anxiety and addiction.

What Is Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Anxiety and Addiction?

As the name suggests, dual diagnosis treatment is a type of treatment that caters to people who struggle with multiple mental disorders at the same time. In general, rehab centers use it to treat patients with addiction and a co-occurring disorder. Anxiety and addiction is the perfect example of a co-occurring disorder that would benefit from dual diagnosis treatment.

Before getting into the benefits of dual diagnosis treatment and why it’s such an effective way to treat anxiety and addiction, it’s important to have a good grasp on what anxiety is. It’s essential to know the difference between normal feelings of anxiety and an anxiety disorder.

Exactly What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress. When people are in stressful situations, it’s normal for them to experience stress. However, it’s possible for their bodies to overreact. When that happens, they have an anxiety disorder.

While anxiety disorders can occur in both men and women, the American Psychiatric Association reports that women are more likely to have them. This fact shouldn’t keep men from seeking treatment for anxiety disorders, though. Because of the stigma surrounding mental health issues, it’s crucial for everyone to seek treatment.

How to Tell the Difference Between Normal Anxiety and an Anxiety Attack

Normal anxiety causes certain symptoms that are generally mild. These may include difficulty sleeping, increased heart rate, and restlessness. It’s not uncommon for anxiety to make people feel uncomfortable or a bit fearful.

An anxiety attack, which is common in people who struggle with anxiety disorders, has more extreme symptoms. Some of these include:

  • Chills and hot flashes
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Uncontrollable worry

co-occurring disorders such as anxiety and addictionOftentimes, these symptoms become so unbearable that people turn to drugs, such as alcohol, for relief. That’s why alcohol and anxiety have such a close connection.

Keep in mind that everyone reacts to stress differently. Just because one individual can handle a lot of stress doesn’t mean that someone else can. No one should base what their normal anxiety level should be on others. Instead, people should create their own baselines and determine what is and isn’t normal for them.

Types of Anxiety Disorders

The symptoms of an anxiety attack can occur in various situations. The situations depend heavily on the type of anxiety disorders that people have. A few of the most common anxiety disorders, or disorders for which anxiety is a key component, include:

  • Panic disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Phobia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

The underlying cause of anxiety differs depending on the individual. In someone who struggles with OCD, for example, the anxiety comes from the person’s uncontrollable thoughts and obsessions. In someone with PTSD, the anxiety comes from events that bring up trauma from the past.

People who think that they struggle with anxiety disorders should seek professional treatment. They should never attempt to deal with these types of problems alone. When they do, the result is usually self-medication, which leads to drug abuse.

The Connection Between Anxiety and Addiction

The connection between anxiety and addiction is a big one. Part of the reason is that people who struggle with anxiety disorders use drugs to get relief. Alcohol is the most common drug that they abuse. In fact, alcohol and anxiety frequently have a codependent relationship. That’s why it’s vital for people with anxiety who also abuse alcohol to seek dual diagnosis treatment for alcohol use and anxiety. Otherwise, whichever disorder that’s left untreated will trigger the reappearance of the disorder that a person chooses to treat. 

For instance, let’s say that a person who struggles with alcohol and anxiety goes into rehab to get treatment for addiction. After the individual is clean and back in the real world, the anxiety starts to flare up again, triggering that person’s desire to drink. This person is likely to relapse and return to using alcohol because the anxiety issue wasn’t addressed during treatment. This is the connection between anxiety and addiction.

In order to fully overcome co-occurring disorders such as that of alcohol and anxiety, people must receive dual diagnosis treatment. Dual diagnosis treatment programs simultaneously treat substance abuse problems and their underlying mental health issues.

What Causes Anxiety Disorders?

It’s common for people to experience anxiety in some manner over the course of their lives. That said, what causes anxiety on a higher level? Unfortunately, experts haven’t determined the exact cause or reason why anxiety affects some individuals more than others. Despite that, certain factors may put some people at a higher risk of developing anxiety disorders.Anxiety and Addiction

For example, a person who has a family history of anxiety problems is more likely to experience anxiety problems too. It’s the same with addiction. Studies show that addiction can run in families, which is yet another connection between anxiety and addiction.

On another note, anxiety can be the direct result of drug use. Oftentimes, people assume that anxiety leads them down the path of using drugs. However, some drugs can cause anxiety. In fact, it’s a common side effect of some prescriptions.

It’s important to note that people can cause anxiety in themselves with long-lasting stress, such as work burnout. Such individuals must learn how to effectively manage their stress to avoid high levels of anxiety. Thankfully, many types of therapy during rehab can teach them how to effectively manage stress levels.

Treatments That Address Anxiety and Addiction

When entering rehab to get help with anxiety and addiction, it’s essential to choose rehab centers that offer dual diagnosis treatment. Treating one disorder but not the other often leads to relapse in some form. 

While receiving dual diagnosis treatment for anxiety and addiction, individuals should also take advantage of other forms of addiction therapy. Some addiction treatments and therapies that individuals can incorporate into their dual diagnosis treatment include the following.  

Family Therapy

Alcohol and anxiety problems frequently stem from problems in the home. As a result, family therapy is a great form of therapy to incorporate into your dual diagnosis treatment program. Family therapy can get to the root cause of many problems.

Also, family therapy helps relatives better understand the struggle that their loved ones go through. It’s common for family and close friends to not understand the struggles of suffering from a substance use disorder, let alone a co-occurring substance use disorder and addiction. 

Oftentimes, people just think that poor lifestyle choices are just the cause of substance use and mental health disorders and nothing more. In reality though, substance use and mental health disorders are much more complicated.

Group and Individual Therapies

Individual and group therapies play a crucial role in nearly every rehab treatment plan. Group therapy helps individuals see that they aren’t the only ones who struggle with substance use and mental illness. 

Being able to share with others gives addiction and mental health treatment patients a new outlook on their problems. Individual therapy gives such individuals the one-on-one time that they need with a therapist to feel comfortable about sharing their struggles.

Personalized Treatment

Anxiety and addiction can affect people in different ways. However, some rehab centers offer a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment. While it works for some people, it doesn’t work for everyone. Because of that, people who struggle with co-occurring disorders should find rehab centers that create dual diagnosis treatment plans that are according to their specific needs.

Not everyone requires the same level of care. For example, some people need significant help during the beginning of rehab. This is when a partial hospitalization program is beneficial. Later on, a person can move on to intensive outpatient or standard outpatient rehab depending on their needs.

Anger Management

Anger is one of the leading causes of stress in people’s lives. As a result, individuals must learn how to control their anger in order to keep their stress and anxiety to a minimum. Anger management teaches individuals how to control anger. In some cases, it can keep them from reaching an elevated level of anger altogether.

Count on Grace Land Recovery

Do you struggle with alcohol and anxiety? If so, seek the professional guidance of Grace Land Recovery. We help people just like you overcome not only drug addiction, but their underlying mental health problems as well. Some of the programs that we offer include:

  • Dual diagnosis treatment, including treatment for alcohol and anxiety
  • Relapse prevention
  • Partial hospitalization program
  • Intensive outpatient rehab
  • Group and individual therapy

Don’t let your alcohol and anxiety problems keep you from living your life to the fullest. Get the help that you need today. Contact Grace Land Recovery to learn more about dual diagnosis treatment for disorder combinations such as anxiety and addiction.

Do not hesitate to contact me!

Individual, Couples and Family Counseling.

To learn more about our facility, feel free to contact us anytime. Our phone lines are open 24/7 just to take any calls that come our way. At Grace Land Recovery Center, we always put the needs of our patients first. Therefore, you can rest assured that you’re in compassionate and caring hands when receiving care at our treatment center. So what are you waiting for? Contact us and begin your journey to achieving sobriety today!

Call us today. 615-785-1137

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For Assistance to Emergency Addiction Issues or Answers to Inquiries, Contact Us

Grace Land Recovery Center is a dual diagnosis treatment center located in the Memphis, Tennessee area. Our address is 134 Timber Creek Drive Cordova, Tennessee 38018. To visit our treatment center during business hours, feel free to stop by anytime Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. You can also contact us over the phone at 615-785-1137.

Our phone lines are open 24/7 just so that we can receive any important calls that come our way. If we happen to miss your call, we’ll make sure to try to call you back immediately. Another way that you can get in contact with us here at Grace Land Recovery Center is through email; you can message us at You can also get in contact with someone at our facility by emailing

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