October 8, 2018

Can I Become Addicted to My Anxiety Medication?

What is Anxiety?

Having anxiety is a difficult issue suffered by millions. It is much more than just butterflies in your stomach before going on stage or before an important event – it can be crippling and can cause severe impacts on one’s life, and you may need to be on anxiety medication to help with the symptoms.

According to anxiety.org, there are many anxiety-related disorders, and they are divided into three main categories:

  1. Anxiety disorders
  2. Obsessive-compulsive and related disorders
  3. Trauma and stressor-related disorders

Anxiety disorders are characterized by a general feature of excessive fear (i.e. emotional response to perceived or real threat) and/or anxiety (i.e. worrying about a future threat) and can have negative behavioral and emotional consequences.

Anxiety can also lead to panic attacks, which can feel much like a heart attack. They are very scary for the sufferer, and can force them to stay home or in a “safe place” as to avoid them. Some symptoms of a panic attack may be:

  • “Racing” heart
  • Feeling weak, faint, or dizzy
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands and fingers
  • Sense of terror, or impending doom or death
  • Feeling sweaty or having chills
  • Chest pains
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Feeling a loss of control

Anxiety Medication

According to Everyday Health, Benzodiazepines, or “benzos,” are a class of pharmaceutical drugs prescribed for a spectrum of mental disorders and ailments. They are used to treat moderate to severe anxiety, panic attacks, epileptic seizures and even withdrawal symptoms from other central nervous system depressants like alcohol.

Some typical anxiety medications that are prescribed are:

  • Xanax
  • Klonopin
  • Ativan
  • Oxazepam Serax
  • Librium
  • Valium
  • Rohypnol

Taking anxiety medication can be a good option for most people suffering from anxiety. Under the supervision of a medical professional, it can keep anxiety symptoms at bay and prevent panic attacks. They can also often times stop panic attacks while they are happening. When taken as prescribed, it can help people suffering from anxiety live a normal, productive life.

However, taking anxiety medication has it’s risks that medical professionals will typically warn you about. It can easily become addictive and patients can begin to abuse it once it’s not being taken as prescribed.

Addiction Warning Signs

Anxiety medications have an addictive nature, because they operate similarly to other addictive drugs, such as opiates and marijuana. Long-term use can cause changes in the structure of the brain, resulting in increased tolerance, which ultimately leads to addiction. Since they change the structure of the brain, there are physical withdrawal symptoms when a user stops taking them abruptly.

Some of the many signs you may be addicted to your anxiety medication are:

  • Taking more than the prescribed amount
  • Obtaining medication through other methods, such as through multiple prescriptions or through drug dealers
  • Not feeling “normal” unless you take it
  • Having withdrawal symptoms when not taken
  • Difficulty controlling how many are being taken
  • Negative impact on family life, job or preference to staying in rather than going to important events

Treating Anxiety

If you are using prescription medication to manage your anxiety but have become addicted, it is important to not address your addiction alone in treatment, but rather treat both your addiction and your anxiety. Treating the anxiety, which is also known as the underlying cause of your addiction, will ensure long-lasting sobriety and a lower likelihood of relapse.

About Cliffside Malibu

Anxiety and addiction to anxiety medication can be treated. We can give you tools you need to wean you off your anxiety medication comfortably, and give you new coping skills to work with your anxiety for the future. 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.

Holistic therapy

Holistic therapy is a great option for people suffering from both addiction and anxiety. It can help calm and relax the individual to give a clear mind of what is happening around them. Once in this relaxed state, the tools learned in therapy can be used to have rational thoughts about fears that may arise. In addition, anxiety can be extra energy stored in the body, so when you are able to expel that energy, anxiety is able to subside.

Some methods can include:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Equine therapy
  • Exercise
  • Acupuncture

It is important to use holistic therapy alongside evidence-based therapies such as one-on-one and group therapy to be able to build better coping skills for when anxiety presents itself in the future. Treatment of addiction and anxiety alongside each other is treating the whole person, not just putting a Band-Aid on the addiction symptoms.

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

Addiction, Addiction Recovery, Addiction to Pharmaceuticals, Anxiety, Drug Rehab Information, Drug Treatment, PTSD , ,
About Jaclyn Uloth