Stress and anxiety are so common today that nearly eight out of ten Americans 18 and older claim they have felt stressed or anxious at least once in their life. Instead of seeking help through an anxiety treatment program, many people will turn to drugs or alcohol to help them cope. Unfortunately, they begin forming an intense addiction as their anxiety only worsens. When this happens, patients can benefit from dual diagnosis treatment programs, which treat the addiction and anxiety together to give them a greater chance at recovery.
At Chapters Recovery Center, our anxiety and substance abuse treatment program in North Shore, Mass, can give you the life skills necessary to deal with your anxiety in healthy and positive ways. Instead of reaching for your substance of choice, you can ignore your triggers and continue with your day. In addition, you will be confident in your abilities to maintain your sobriety and not let your anxiety rule your day. To get the help you need with your anxiety, call our friendly support staff to learn more about our anxiety treatment program.
What is Anxiety? Do I Have It?
Anxiety is when someone experiences excessive and consistent worries and fear. When some people begin feeling anxious, they become even more anxious when they realize that they’re stressed or nervous. This is a completely natural reaction to anxiety and should be treated as such. Life has many challenges that come with it and dealing with anxiety is a part of it. However, this does not mean that sometimes it doesn’t happen for no good reason.
Fear and panic can be paralyzing to a person; it keeps them from acting the way they should in certain circumstances where decisive action is necessary. Not only that, but anxiety can also cause a flight response in a person socially. For example, stress or nervousness can debilitate a person from interacting with family, friends, and loved ones. Anxiety also has the potential to make a person feel physically ill or exhausted.
What Are the Symptoms of Anxiety?
Because anxiety casts such a wide net, the symptoms may vary between individuals. There are, however, sure-fire symptoms of anxiety. These include the following:
- Mood swings
- Feeling isolated
- Feeling like you are dying
- Feeling the need to retreat
- Heart palpitations
- Heavy breathing
- Lack of concentration
- Gut health issues
The symptoms of anxiety are different for every person; there’s no typical form of anxiety disorder. Each person’s feelings and journey are unique to them. Some may believe the signs and symptoms of anxiety to be nothing more than typical sickness; however, if a doctor states that there are no medical or physical explanations, then there is a likelihood that they are suffering from anxiety.
Anxiety and addiction often occur at the same time. This is often referred to as a dual diagnosis. As mentioned above, anxiety can cause a person to experience severe emotional and physical symptoms. When this happens, it becomes effortless for a person to self-medicate with alcohol. For some, it’s almost instinctual. It’s bad enough for anxiety or addiction to happen on their own, but together at the same time, it all becomes a vicious cycle.
When it comes to generalized anxiety disorder, the symptoms are immensely difficult to deal with. Most individuals who are dealing with anxiety will self-medicate because they are desperate to feel better. Coping with substances like alcohol or drugs may temporarily ease their feelings of worry, dread, panic, or fear. The capability to remain calm eludes them because it’s more complicated than just remaining calm.
There is no one-size-fits-all anxiety diagnosis. Anxiety and substance abuse varies from person to person in terms of severity and consistency. For example, those who suffer from social anxiety may find themselves surrounded by a large crowd. In this situation, it may be easy to grab a drink or pop a pill to cope with the flood of emotions they’re enduring. As a result, over a longer period of time, a person may become dependent; even further down the line they may become addicted.
Anxiety and Addiction: What Comes First?
There’s no way to know for certain if anxiety comes before addiction, or if addiction to a substance results in anxiety. In other words, there’s no cookie cutter explanation for each person that has a co-occurring disorder. Everybody’s journey with a mental health disorder is unique to them and their experiences.
Generalized anxiety disorder and substance use disorder are two of the most common mental health disorders. In fact, they’re so common that they are capable of being diagnosed as co-occurring disorders for some people. Just because someone suffers from both disorders simultaneously does not mean one was dependent on the other; the same goes the other way around. Someone who has become addicted to a substance may develop anxiety as a result. It all depends on the individual circumstance.
There are, however, statistics that point to both situations occurring. For example, there have been studies that have shown that those with anxiety are 15% more likely to be dually diagnosed with anxiety and substance abuse.
Dual Diagnosis: Causes of Anxiety and Addiction
Generalized anxiety disorder and substance use disorder co-occur more often than some people may be led to believe. However, it’s always important to ask why. There are a plethora of catalysts that exist for co-occurring disorders. How they influence each other, amplify each other, and result in the existence of another are all major impending developments of a dual diagnosis. This can happen for a multitude of reasons, including the following:
- Withdrawal symptoms
There is a link between substance use disorder and other mental health disorders; this usually has all to do with gaining control over the negative feelings they may experience in their lives. When someone suffers from any sort of pain, be it physical or mental, they’re likely to try and self-medicate before going to a doctor. This could mean alcohol abuse or drug abuse.
There have been studies done that have shown there’s a link between mental health disorders, addiction, and genetics. Sometimes people are genetically predisposed, so they may be more likely to develop a disorder than someone who isn’t. Mental health disorders and substance use disorders co-occur more often than not; even if you haven’t developed one yet, it doesn’t mean it can’t happen later.
When it comes to coming off of a substance use disorder, or even being in the thick of it all, withdrawal is a very serious reality. Some symptoms could include a severe version of a mental health disorder like anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder. The longer withdrawal symptoms go on and are coped with in unhealthy ways, the more likely a person is to develop a chronic mental health disorder.
How Can a Program for Anxiety and Substance Abuse Help?
Anxiety can be as minor as feeling butterflies in your stomach to hyperventilation and an overwhelming sense of losing control. Anxiety can come from a sound or visual cue that reminds them of a past traumatic event or a lack of confidence in their abilities to finish a major exam or task at work. Other common triggers for anxiety include:
- Social gatherings
- Deadlines at work or school
- Financial concerns
- Legal issues
- Poor nutrition
- High-stress situations
- Relationship issues
- Prescription drugs
- Substance abuse
Abusing drugs or alcohol to cope with anxiety can worsen it. The longer you ignore your feelings, the more difficult it will be to uncover the root issue of your anxiety, especially if addiction is hiding the underlying issue. At Chapters Recovery, our dual diagnosis treatment program can simultaneously help with your anxiety and addiction. This treatment offers a better chance at recovery and lifelong sobriety.
Finding the Right Anxiety Disorder Treatment Program in New England
Anxiety and other mental illnesses are challenging to treat because no two cases are exactly alike. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment program to help with anxiety, and the root cause of anxiety is often hidden beneath the addiction.
An effective anxiety disorder treatment in Massachusetts may include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Family counseling
Benefits of Dual Diagnosis Treatment
A well-rounded anxiety treatment program will include several forms of therapy to help you discover the reason behind your anxiety and form healthy coping skills to deal with the emotions and feelings instead of reaching for drugs or alcohol. A dual diagnosis treatment program offers a range of benefits, such as:
- Teach you how addiction changes your brain chemistry
- Help you identify your triggers to avoid your cravings
- Learn how to communicate with your family about your anxiety
- Develop healthy techniques to remain calm in stressful situations
Choose Chapters Recovery Center for Your Anxiety Treatment in Massachusetts
At Chapters Recovery, the first thing we will do is perform a complete medical examination. During this evaluation, we will talk with you about your anxiety and what substances you are abusing to help you cope with your feelings. From this evaluation, we will determine the best treatment program to help your unique needs. Depending on the level of addiction, your therapist may recommend starting your anxiety treatment program using programs such as:
- Partial hospitalization program
- Intensive outpatient program
- Outpatient program
- Medication-assisted treatment
Our team will closely monitor your progress and update you as you move through your program to ensure you get the most out of your treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction brought on by anxiety or other mental health issues, give us a call today.