Anxiety and addiction are co-occurring conditions that many people suffer from. Anxiety, in and of itself, may not be a bad thing. It is the body’s response to real or imagined situations that could cause physical or emotional threats. That means it is normal for everyone to feel anxiety almost regularly, which can help navigate and respond to daily occurring events that may be stressful.
However, anxiety can pose an issue if it interferes with functioning properly at work, in relationships and in your everyday life. Whereas normal anxiety may create nervousness and potential loss of sleep, anxiety disorders can be more severe, leading to panic, excessive sweating, tremors, and severe sleep problems. Chronic anxiety may even lead to persistent health conditions such as gastrointestinal problems, sleep disorders, panic disorders, and a host of other issues.
Anxiety or Addiction - which comes first?
Many people self medicate when they suffer from anxiety, and sometimes they resort to addictive substances in order to calm themselves down. This could eventually lead to dependence on substances, and even substance use disorders.
On the flipside, anxiety may occur as a result of an individual becoming dependent on a substance, and experience anxiety as a withdrawal symptom when they try to quit. Substances such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and other inhalants and hallucinogens may induce anxiety. Prescription medications such as corticosteroids, thyroid medications, and many antidepressants and mood stabilizers are known to induce anxiety.
Each individual responds differently to different substances, but being aware of the risk factors is helpful in recognizing and avoiding them.
Managing Anxiety Without Drugs
Drugs do not have to be the first thing to reach for in times of anxiety. There are many helpful holistic ways to overcome anxiety and feel calm. This is a short list of tips and techniques to try.
- Deep diaphragmatic breathing of 5 – 10 breaths
- Replace caffeinated drinks with water
- Add calming foods to your diet, such as whole grains, blueberries and almonds
- Avoid alcohol and other addictive substances
- Do something physical, like going for a run, or jumping jacks
- Write down all your anxious thoughts and put them away
- Monitor and track your triggers and stressors in a journal
- Call a friend, do something (non-substance-related) together
- Get plenty of sleep
- Seek a therapist if anxiety is excessive
Managing Anxiety Without Drugs
If you are suffering from severe anxiety and also addiction, seek a therapist who can provide dual diagnosis for co-occurring disorders. There are several kinds of anxiety disorders, and many types of substances that induce anxiety, so treating them together can help address the root causes for both. An experienced therapist can come up with an individualized treatment plan so that triggers can be identified, patterns can be monitored, goals can be tracked, with the end result that an individual can learn healthy coping mechanisms to deal with both anxiety and addiction.
We specialize in dual diagnosis, addiction treatment and mental health treatment, so that we can help our clients recover for the long term, and be able to live a healthy life. We offer the latest evidence based treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Motivational Enhancement and Interviewing and several others, as necessary. We also offer alternative treatment approaches such as adventure therapy and holistic practices. This range of treatment techniques allows people to take part in their own recovery and gives them a chance to process their physical and emotional changes in ways that can help them live a self-directed, confident life.
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