September 11, 2018

Anxiety and Addiction

Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is a complex condition that affects millions of people all over the world. It is a broad term in itself and can look different on everybody. It is literally defined as: “a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior or panic attacks.” Often times, anxiety and addiction can also go hand-in-hand.

Much like anxiety, panic attacks can be completely different for everybody who experiences them. You may experience all symptoms, or only some. Some symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks may include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Muscle tension
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Disorientation
  • Fear or dread
  • Restlessness and inability to relax
  • Inability to socialize, wanting to be alone

Types of Anxiety

Anxiety and addiction are not simple – there are many different types of anxiety, and everyone can have many different triggers. It comes in many forms, however, Medical News Today writes that anxiety in general can be characterized by “the duration or severity of an anxious feeling that is disproportionate to the original trigger, or stressor.” In other words, the body is overreacting to the trigger at hand and irrational thoughts come into place.

Some different types of anxiety include:

General Anxiety Disorder

This is the most common type of anxiety disorder among people, and it’s cause is often unidentifiable. It is involves excessive, long-lasting anxiety and worries about nonspecific life events, objects, and/or situations.

Social Anxiety Disorder

This anxiety disorder involves the fear of being negatively judged in social situations, as well as the debilitating fear of public embarrassment. People suffering from this often avoid large groups, parties, the stage or any other type of public situation. They go to great lengths to avoid others, which causes them isolate themselves and miss out on major life events.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Also known as OCD, this type of anxiety disorder involves people using repetitive thoughts or actions to alleviate their anxiety. Aside from repetitive actions, this can also include obsessive cleaning, germophobia, or obsessively double-checking things.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Unlike GAD in which a person doesn’t know the root cause of their anxiety, PTSD is a type of anxiety that is directly resulted from a traumatic experience in someone’s life. This can range from anything from experiencing physical violence or sexual assault, to having been through military combat or a car accident.

Separation Anxiety Disorder

This can be identified as experiencing panic or anxiety when separated from a “safe” person or place that gives a person a feeling of security. It’s different than normal “clinginess”, as it can cause extreme reluctance to being alone or going to normal places such as work or school.

How is anxiety related to substance abuse?

Often times, people who are experiencing anxiety may be prescribed medication to help manage their symptoms. These medications may include:

  • Xanax
  • Librium
  • Klonopin
  • Valium
  • Ativan
  • Lexapro
  • Prozac
  • Paxil
  • Zoloft
  • Marplan
  • Nardil
  • Emsam
  • Parnate

A major key side effect to these medications is that they can cause addiction of not taken as prescribed. When abused, it can become easy for a user to spiral into the throes of addiction while honestly trying to treat their debilitating symptoms.

In addition, people suffering from anxiety may also try to self-medicate. Many people can reach for drugs or alcohol in an effort to numb the pain they experience. While this can be a temporary fix, in the long run it exacerbate the symptoms of both anxiety and addiction.

Dual diagnosis treatment

Treatment for anxiety and addiction are co-occurring and need to be addressed together with dual diagnosis treatment. If addiction alone is treated and anxiety is left to remain, the addiction is bound to return because the root cause was never addressed.

Both addiction and anxiety are eventually wired into the structure of the brain and need to be reworked. Drugs and alcohol can literally affect the chemical wiring of the brain and can be reversed with detox (sometimes including medication), as well as holistic and evidence-based therapies. This is also true for anxiety. Being able to have the tools to know what to do when you feel an anxiety attack coming on is key to sobriety – in short, it’s about learning how to cope with anxiety rather than reaching for a substance.

About Cliffside Malibu

Cliffside Malibu believes in treating the root cause of addiction, which in this case would be the anxiety. Exploring the initial cause of anxiety and addiction, as well as understanding your anxiety better, will help your addiction and long-lasting sobriety. Upon entering Cliffside Malibu, each patient is carefully assessed and a custom treatment plan is created for not only their immediate needs, but for their treatment for long-lasting recovery as well.

Each patient is then matched with one of these five stages of the Transtheoretical Model: Precontemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action and Maintenance. An individualized treatment plan is created based on their current stage of change. This process is in place to ensure that all our patients receive the best treatment path possible for their own specific need. Our goal is to move individuals through their treatment by assessing their readiness for change and formulating stage-matched interventions in order to move them through their respective stage.

It is the policy of Cliffside Malibu to ensure that all individuals who present with chemical dependency issues are assessed for the appropriate level of care. We strive to provide continuum of care including medically supervised detox, residential treatment, day treatment and outpatient services. Services are provided to individuals with a primary diagnosis of substance abuse and/or alcohol addiction. Individuals seeking treatment are assessed by qualified staff to ensure program criteria are met and that each individual admitted is placed in the appropriate level of care for treatment. The program is designed and structured for individuals who are in need of a supportive environment in order to maintain Sobriety.

For more information on Cliffside Malibu, visit cliffsidemalibu.com

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