More than 40 million Americans suffer from some sort of anxiety disorder. Not only that, but 1 in 13 people worldwide suffer from anxiety in some way. That makes anxiety the most common mental health issue in the world. 

While millions and millions of people deal with anxiety every day, many people know how to properly handle their condition. Many people let it take over their lives. They even might turn to drugs and alcohol to help cope with their anxiety. This can lead to addiction and anxiety, also known as a co-occurring disorder.

anxiety and addiction

If you or someone you know is suffering from both addiction and an anxiety disorder, it can help to understand more about anxiety, how it contributes to substance abuse, and what types of treatment are available at a center for understanding and treating anxiety.

What Is An Anxiety Disorder?

While many people suffer from anxiety, they are suffering from a specific type of anxiety disorder. The term anxiety is a broad term covering several different mental health disorders of varying degrees. Some common examples of a specific anxiety disorder include:

  • General anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety
  • Separation anxiety
  • Agoraphobia
  • Other specific phobias

There are many other mental health disorders that while are not technically considered an anxiety disorder are often associated with it and can even occur alongside an anxiety disorder. Some examples of these conditions include:

While many people might feel symptoms of some of these disorders from time to time such as fear, worry, or anxiety, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they suffer from a disorder. People who suffer from anxiety disorders experience these feelings throughout their regular daily lives for no discernible reason. In some cases, these feelings can be so strong and severe that they can be debilitating. 

What Are the Different Types of Anxiety Disorders

As we discussed briefly above, anxiety is a broad term to describe different types of disorders that are associated with anxiety. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, there are five major types of anxiety disorders. They are:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Panic Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Social Phobia

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by chronic anxiety, excessive worrying, and tension, even when there is little or nothing to provoke it. This type of anxiety disorder is the most commonly diagnosed, affecting 6.8 million adults in the United States (3.1%). 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder that is distinguished by repetitive behaviors, compulsions, and thoughts that are unwanted yet recurring. The unwanted thoughts are the obsessions while the repetitive behaviors are known as the compulsions. 

OCD is demonstrated by acts of excessive hand washing, cleaning, checking on things, counting, etc. They are usually performed in a ritual-like state with hopes that these intrusive thoughts will go away, but they don’t, which increases anxiety. Treatment is the answer for proper management of the condition.  

Panic Disorder

Panic disorders are a type of anxiety disorder identified by sudden repetitive episodes of intense fear and panic. These symptoms of fear and/pr panic, are accompanied by chest pain, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, dizziness, or abdominal distress.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a type of anxiety disorder that commonly develops after an individual has experienced something traumatic, or been exposed to a terrifying or stressful event. These include sexual assault, violence, natural disasters, accidents, or military combat. They tend to either happen directly to someone or are witnessed and involve either violence or physical harm of some kind. 

War veterans and first responders, such as police, firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, and other military personnel are commonly diagnosed with PTSD. 

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorder also known as social phobia, is a type of anxiety disorder that is characterized by an overwhelming sense of anxiety and excessive self-consciousness when placed in everyday social situations. Social phobias can be limited to just one situation or it may be various, where a person experiences symptoms almost anytime they are around other people.

What Are the Symptoms of Anxiety?

Being able to tell the difference between general anxiety and suffering from an anxiety disorder can go a long way when it comes to getting the treatment that you need. Some of the common signs and symptoms of an anxiety disorder include:

  • Panic
  • Fear
  • Feeling like you are in constant danger
  • Not being able to stay calm or sit still
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Hyperventilating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Cold, sweaty, numb, or tingling sensation in the hands or feet
  • Avoiding certain objects or places due to fear
  • Not being able to focus or concentrate
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth

Risk Factors of Anxiety and Addiction

While researchers have not been able to directly pinpoint what exactly causes anxiety disorder, there are some causes and risk factors that lead to an increase in the chances that one may develop. 

Causes of Anxiety and Addiction 

  • Genetics – You are more likely to develop an anxiety disorder if it runs in your family. 
  • Brain chemistry – Some researchers believe that a chemical imbalance in the brain can be linked to anxiety disorders, specifically the parts of the brain that control fear and emotion. 
  • Environmental stress – This can be brought on by stressful events you have seen or lived through including childhood abuse and neglect, the death of a loved one, or being attacked or seeing violence.  
  • Drug withdrawal or misuse – Some people turn to drugs or alcohol to deal with their anxiety. While this might be a temporary solution, in the long run, it can cause more problems.
  • Medical conditions – Certain conditions, such as heart, lung, and thyroid conditions, can cause symptoms similar to anxiety disorders or make anxiety symptoms worse.

Risk factors 

  • Substance abuse – Substance abuse and anxiety disorder tend to go hand in hand. Many people turn to drugs or alcohol to deal with their anxiety, which can lead to addiction. On the other hand, substance abuse can lead to the development of an anxiety disorder.
  • Low self-esteem – Having a negative viewpoint about yourself can lead to extreme anxiety, especially in certain social settings.
  • History of mental health issues – Having another type of mental health disorder can increase the chances of an anxiety disorder also developing. 
  • Trauma – Experiencing a traumatic event, either directly or indirectly, can increase the chances of the person developing post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Sexual abuse – Sexual abuse, especially during a person’s younger years, has shown to have a direct correlation to the development of an anxiety disorder later in life. 
  • Poor health – Someone who is in poor health or suffers from a chronic health condition is more likely to develop an anxiety disorder since they are constantly worrying about their health and well-being.

Anxiety and Addiction 

For many people, anxiety disorder and substance abuse go hand in hand. For some, they struggle to deal with their anxiety disorder and turn to drugs and alcohol as a way of self-medicating or even coping with their problem. While this may seem like a great temporary solution, it can have long-term ramifications such as health problems or even addiction.

On the other hand, some people might find themselves developing an anxiety disorder as a result of their addiction. When someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol it can cause a chemical imbalance of the brain. This can lead to the development of an anxiety disorder, especially if the imbalance occurs in the area of the brain that controls fear and emotion.

Treatment Options For Anxiety and Addiction

When dealing with co-occurring disorders, such as anxiety disorder and addiction, one of the most popular treatment methods is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) at a center for understanding and treating anxiety. 

CBT teaches those who are suffering from both anxiety disorder and addiction how to turn the negative thoughts and behaviors associated with anxiety disorder into positive ones. It also gets to the bottom of what exactly brought on the addiction and the anxiety disorder and teaches the person more healthy ways to live their lives without turning to drugs or alcohol to cope.

Are You Looking For a Treatment Center for Anxiety and Addiction

Millions of people suffer from anxiety and addiction everyday. Many people turn to drugs or alcohol to address their anxiety instead of getting help. This can oftentimes lead to the development of substance abuse and addiction. If you or someone you know is suffering from anxiety and a substance abuse problem, it’s important to know that you don’t have to suffer anymore.

Contact Us Today

At LA Detox, we want you to live a happy and healthy life, which is why we pride ourselves on being a center for understanding and treating anxiety. Contact us today to learn about our treatment options including for both anxiety disorder and addiction.