What Are the Connections Between Anxiety and Addiction?
At some point or another in their lives, almost everyone struggles with anxiety to some extent.
Anxiety can produce confusing and misleading feelings. These feelings may
take over our minds and produce the overwhelming symptoms of an anxiety attack. In some cases, people may not realize they are anxious until they start to feel the physical sensations caused by anxiety.
Drug and alcohol abuse is a common but dangerous “remedy” for the feelings of anxiety. Sometimes, people suffering from substance use disorders who also suffer from anxiety, are reluctant to find substance
abuse treatment. They worry that nobody will understand what they are experiencing.
Behaviors, Thoughts, Feelings, and Characteristics of Anxiety
There are many behaviors, thoughts, feelings, and characteristics associated with anxiety.
The thoughts a person experiences, when they are anxious, can produce a variety of behavioral responses.
Anxiety comes from fear. Since people do not want to feel fearful and scared, their minds and bodies produce intense behavioral responses to such fear.
People who suffer from anxiety may use substances to fight their anxious thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. In addition, many people suffering from substance use disorders with anxietyת may appear moody, preoccupied, and nervous.
Characteristics of anxiety may include:
- Excessive need to control things
- Disregard of physical and
psychological stress symptoms
- Excessive need for approval and attention
Some characteristics associated with anxiety relate to an individual’s belief system. The thoughts a person has when they are anxious can often be characterized as “could, would, and should” statements.
They may reinforce an addict's belief system. The statements may cause people to think about their pasts. They may make them feel anxious and affect them emotionally.
A few examples of these statements include:
- “I could have set the alarm on my phone last night before I started partying so I could wake up for school. I am so stupid.”
- “I would have been happier and better if I did not spend holidays at home with my parents. Their actions drive me to use alcohol and drugs.”
Other types of thoughts associated with anxiety deal with future events. They may cause a person to worry and obsess frequently.
An example of this type of thought is, “If I get this job, then I will stop drinking alcohol.” It is important to understand that focusing on past feelings or events that we cannot control may only increase anxiety symptoms.
Anxious thoughts contribute to the person suffering from substance use disorder, desire to hide and escape through the use of alcohol or drugs. This is why people with addiction and anxiety may have a harder time-fighting substance abuse than people without such issues.
The condition when addiction and mental health issue such as anxiety co-exist, called Co-Occuring Disorder.
To learn more about Co-occurring disorder and how to treat it successfully, click here.
Addiction and Symptoms of Anxiety
Anxiety causes intense reactions in a person’s body and mind. It
can manifest in physical and psychological ways. Anxiety responses might be
unrecognizable and are sometimes overlooked.
Sometimes, the physical and psychological symptoms of anxiety are similar to alcohol and drug withdrawal symptoms.
Many people suffering from Substance Use Disorders, turn to their “drug of choice” when they are anxious. They do this because they believe that the drug may help them escape from their anxious state. A person’s anxiety and addiction may only worsen if he or she continues to drink or use drugs.
During addiction, people may avoid facing their anxious thoughts and feelings. If you are suffering from Substance Use Disorder and you have been feeling anxious, consider talking with someone from a treatment center specializing in treating both
Techniques for Managing Anxiety
There are some ways you can
fight your anxiety, including the following:
- Do not be so hard on yourself
- Remember that nobody is perfect and that everybody makes mistakes
- Do not become stuck thinking about the future or the past
- Try meditation and thinking about the now and staying in your present situation
- Learn how to recognize what you can control and what you cannot control
- Learn relaxation exercises and use them when you are feeling anxious
- Treat the underlying issues in a
profesionaland approved treatment center
Anxiety management techniques may help you with your anxiety issues. Remember that people sometimes cannot resolve addiction and anxiety at home. It often requires help from outside sources, such as treatment center.
Are you in recovery or need to be? Have you been craving another drink or drug again? Has your anxiety taken control of your thinking?
If so, today is the day to find the help you deserve. Just contact us or search for more information here.
About the author
Nicole is a freelance writer and educator based in Michigan and believes that her writing is an extension of her career as a tutor. She covers many topics like travel, mental health