Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental illness. Data published by National Institute on Mental Health shows that over 18%of adults in the United States live with some form of anxiety disorder. In addition, people with anxiety disorders are about 2 to 3 times as likely to have problems with addiction as those who don’t have anxiety. When someone has a mental health disorder and a substance abuse issue, it is known as a dual diagnosis, and treatment for Anxiety and Addiction can address both conditions.

While anxiety is a normal reaction that everyone experiences in response to stressful or dangerous situations, people who deal with anxiety disorders have persistent, often unfounded fears. Clinical anxiety can often interfere with daily activities and have a negative impact on close relationships, work, and social activities.

Anxiety can produce symptoms that are both physical and psychological. In an attempt to try and cope with these symptoms, many people self-medicate and abuse alcohol or drugs. The connection between anxiety and substance abuse is undeniable. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that people with anxiety are nearly twice as likely to have substance abuse issues as the general population.

Unfortunately for most people, the attempt to self-medicate to relieve anxiety symptoms has a negative effect and intensifies the mental disorder. Substance abuse can increase and amplify the psychological and physical symptoms of an anxiety disorder, reinforcing the person’s need for more of these substances to function normally. This combination of anxiety and substance abuse creates a cycle of alcohol or drug abuse that can lead to dependence and addiction.

Types of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders can manifest various symptoms, ranging from a vague sense of dread to a specific paralyzing fear that is insurmountable. There are a few different types of anxiety disorders, each one requiring a comprehensive and multifaceted treatment approach. Below are the most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorders.

Generalized anxiety disorder 

Generalized anxiety disorder fills people with worries and fears that move from topic to topic with no apparent pattern or connection. For example, people with generalized anxiety disorder suffer from a near-constant sense of dread and impending disaster with no specific focus. While these fears often have no basis in reality, patients often dismiss their condition as normal worries. In reality, generalized anxiety disorder creates worry and fear that is more powerful and pervasive than oral worry or fear and can be overwhelming for an individual.

Social anxiety disorder

Social anxiety disorder is also known as social phobia and affects about 15 million U.S. adults, according to research by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Social anxiety disorder causes people to have an unreasonable fear of interacting with other people. For example, the condition may cause an intense fear of appearing in crowded places, speaking in public, participating in social activities, and other common daily interactions. Social anxiety disorder is often accompanied by other anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, which can cause intense fear of public places and situations that leave the individual feeling helpless and out of control.

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder that often develops after an individual has experienced a traumatic event. This anxiety disorder is common in military personnel that have experienced combat, causing flashbacks to the event, nightmares, irritability, anger, insomnia, hypervigilance, or paranoia. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that nearly eight million U.S. soldiers have post-traumatic stress disorder. The condition can also affect individuals that live through any traumatic experience such as a natural disaster or a violent crime, such as sexual assault.

Panic disorder

Intense episodes of overwhelming and uncontrollable fear and terror are typical symptoms of panic disorder. While panic attacks are not usually fatal, when a person with panic disorder experiences an episode, they feel an overwhelming sense of dread and impending death. In addition to the psychological symptoms, people often have physical symptoms, including sweating, dizziness, hyperventilation, a rapid heartbeat, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, and other alarming symptoms.

Like other anxiety disorders, the panic attacks associated with panic disorder are not based on any real source of danger. Instead, for many people, the most common trigger for an episode is the fear of having a panic attack in public. Research shows that approximately one million people experience panic attacks every year, with a typical episode lasting 10 minutes on average.

Specific phobias

Various anxiety disorders are related to a specific phobia, such as an irrational and debilitating fear of a particular object, situation, or animal. People with specific phobias will go out of their way to avoid the thing they fear, even if doing so interferes with and complicates their lives. Some of the more common specific phobias include a fear of enclosed spaces or claustrophobia, a fear of flying or aviophobia, and a fear of heights or acrophobia. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that nearly 9 percent of U.S. adults experience a specific phobia every year and that about 22 percent of these cases could be considered severe.

Treatment For Anxiety and Addiction

While a dual diagnosis of anxiety disorder and addiction is not uncommon, they are two unique conditions, and it’s usually necessary to treat both together. A person who completes a drug rehabilitation program to treat their drug addiction but does not get treatment for their anxiety disorder is more likely to relapse into addiction and experience more serious medical issues.

The most effective and lasting treatment is a multifaceted approach that includes cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT. CBT is a type of psychotherapy that challenges a person’s negative thought patterns and perceptions about themselves and the world around them. This type of therapy is designed to alter unwanted behavior and thought patterns by focusing on identifying and understanding the cause while changing thinking and behavior patterns.

At Covenant Hills, we offer clients several treatment options that are customized to meet your specific needs. Our world-class treatment facility is staffed by a team of highly qualified professionals that can help you with every phase of your treatment. We strive to provide patients with the most advanced and effective treatment options available and are committed to your success. To learn more about anxiety disorder and addiction, contact us today.