Anxiety changes the way you perceive the world. Not only can persistent anxiety make you more cautious and irritable, but anxiety attacks can destroy the better part of your day. Many people who suffer from anxiety turn to various substances to cope with their constant paranoia and fear. However, in doing so, they find themselves facing a new problem一anxiety and addiction.
People looking for dual diagnosis treatment face a difficult battle. However, no one climbing this hill has to make the trek alone. The team with Sierra Sage is ready to help you achieve your addiction goals. You can reach out to the Sierra Sage office with questions by calling 833.922.2884 or via our online form.
Anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses to plague adults in the United States today. This condition, which can be caused both by environmental factors and chemical imbalance in the brain, results in:
- Poor eating habits
- Anxiety attacks
- Suicide ideation
To control these conditions, many individuals turn to alternative substances. These substances can help clients self-medicate, if only for a short period. Unfortunately, given the addictive nature of these substances, those suffering from anxiety often find themselves abruptly facing two problems at once一continued anxiety on top of a growing addiction.
The Physical Effects of Anxiety and Addiction
The physical effects of anxiety vary. A person’s personality can impact their symptoms, as can the severity of their condition.
Individuals facing an anxiety attack, for example, may become jittery and prone to movement. You may pace, rub your arms, or feel as though your thoughts are too big for your skin. Alternatively, people who have been punished for showing signs of anxiety in the past一either by an employer, a parent, or an authoritative party一may stop talking and self-isolate.
During an anxiety attack, you can experience physical symptoms including but not limited to:
- Pain in your chest
- Locked jaw
- Uncontrollable tears
- Shortness of breath
- Trembling or shaking
- Increased heart rate
To make matters more complicated, the physical effects of an anxiety attack can feel and look a lot like withdrawal. Someone suffering from addiction and anxiety may use certain substances to slow their heart rate and limit their intrusive thoughts, but withdrawal can bring those conditions back in full force.
Dealing with Anxiety and Addiction in Tandem through Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Medical professionals describe anxiety and addiction working in tandem as a co-occurring disorder requiring dual diagnosis treatment. When a person suffers from a co-occurring disorder, their conditions aggravate one another, making it more difficult to recover. That’s why those affected need an anxiety treatment program built into their addiction treatment.
Those who get a dual diagnosis can often face the following obstacles to their recovery:
- Self-Medication: The self-medication of an anxiety disorder can give a person a sense of control over their life. However, the use of certain substances to overcome feelings of anxiety can induce dependence. These substances can also cause a person to decline physically, even as their sense of dread fades.
- Withdrawal: People who self-medicate for their anxiety will begin to suffer from the symptoms of withdrawal. The physical symptoms of withdrawal can include shaking, a higher-than-average heart rate, breathlessness, and watering eyes. Clients going through withdrawal may also experience sleeplessness, fear, and paranoia, all of which can exacerbate a person’s anxiety.
- Biochemical Influences: Anxiety, as mentioned, is often the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. When a person self-medicates for anxiety, they further alter the condition of their brain. Many of the substances on the street today, for example, induce incredible dopamine production and release over a short period. If a person self-medicates for too long, their brain may lose the ability to produce dopamine without an artificial stimulant. This inability can drive people to try harder, more dangerous substances in greater doses, eventually putting their lives at risk.
Learn More About the Anxiety Treatment Program at Sierra Sage
There are anxiety treatment programs designed to combat anxiety and addiction all at once. These dual diagnosis treatment programs operate through rehabilitation centers and hospitals, using a combination of medical therapy and other programs to guide a person towards societal re-entry.
If you have any questions about dual diagnosis treatment or about the process of starting substance use rehabilitation, you can get in touch with our team. Call Sierra Sage at 833.922.2884 or submit your questions via our online form.