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Addiction and Anxiety; Treatment For Dual Diagnosis Arizona is Crucial to Long-Term Recovery

Addiction and Anxiety; Treatment For Dual Diagnosis Arizona is Crucial to Long-Term Recovery

For many individuals who suffer from a drug or alcohol addiction, there often is a secondary problem that can complicate the recovery process. One such condition is anxiety. Addiction and anxiety treatment through a dual diagnosis Arizona facility is integral to successful long-term recovery. Without treating both conditions, a person is more likely to relapse. 

Anxiety Explained

The term “anxiety” has become overused and is frequently misinterpreted in today’s digital landscape. Anxiety, in and of itself is, not a mental illness or psychological disorder. Anxiety is an adaptive response that helped ancient humans survive, and it can still be a positive motivator today.

Individuals who are anxious about taking a test study harder; someone who is anxious about a first date will put a little extra effort into their appearance and put their best foot forward. Anxiety is deeply rooted in our DNA as a mechanism to enhance our focus on an upcoming task.

Normal, everyday anxiety has identifiable triggers. Symptoms are uncomfortable, but they are usually not debilitating.

This is not the case for people whose anxiety is harder to manage and borders on a disorder.

The National Institutes of Mental Health[1] recognizes five different types of anxiety disorders:

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

Anxiety and Substance Abuse

Addiction and mental illness often go together. The existence of two mental health problems at the same time is called “comorbidity” and fall under dual diagnosis. Arizona rehabilitation centers, like Desert Cove Recovery, can treat both diagnosable conditions. Substance use disorder is frequently diagnosed with other mental health disorders such as major depressive disorder, an anxiety disorder, or bipolar disorder.

Many mental illnesses share common risk factors. Research shows that some people are born more likely to develop an addiction; this is known as “genetic predisposition.” A person’s DNA can make up for 60 percent of their likelihood to become addicted to drugs or alcohol at some point in their lives[2].

Anxiety disorders also have strong genetic ties. The exact extent is unclear, but research shows that DNA does impact a person’s risk of developing an anxiety disorder and being raised by parents who suffer from anxiety may also increase the risk[3].

Wrestling with the symptoms of anxiety can make life almost unmanageable, which is why many people turn to substance abuse as a means of self-medicating.

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addiction and anxiety treatment, dual diagnosis arizona

How Anxiety Leads to Addiction

Although anxiety does not cause substance abuse, many people are initially drawn toward drugs and alcohol as a means of coping with their symptoms. From constantly feeling on-edge, a racing heart, and an unshakeable sense of dread, living with anxiety is like fighting an uphill battle.

Drugs and alcohol that suppress the body’s central nervous system (CNS) can alleviate the symptoms of anxiety. Being drunk or high can make someone feel balanced or normal, and they initially start to take substances as a means of controlling their anxiety.

Unfortunately, this leads to a physical dependency that can quickly spiral into addiction. When the effects of the substance wear off, a person’s anxiety may feel even stronger than before. This causes people to return to drugs or alcohol along with a fear of experiencing symptoms without any substances in their system.

Escapism or self-medication only goes so far, and ultimately, they only lead to more significant problems. Because of this, anxiety and addiction cannot be treated separately. People have to find a program that provides an inclusive treatment plan and helps them learn how to handle their anxiety without the use of drugs or alcohol.

Just treating substance abuse won’t get rid of anxiety, and those who go through rehab and fail to manage their anxiety are more likely to relapse. Without addressing the underlying cause, anxiety is bound to resurface sooner or later. Lacking the right understanding and coping strategies, people are likely to return to the only “treatment” that works – even if it costs them all the painful downfalls of addiction.

Treating Anxiety and Addiction

Addiction and anxiety treatment allows people to gain a broader understanding of their emotions and how the brain is interconnected. Addiction is often a by-product of anxiety and vice-versa. Substance abuse perpetuates the same fear, worry, and panic that gave rise to it in the first place.

Through proper treatment, people can learn to tackle their anxiety and “rewire” their brains to respond to things less fearfully. It takes hard work, but recovery from both anxiety and addiction is possible. If you or someone you love is suffering from drug or alcohol addiction, contact your local hospital or contact one of our professional counselors at Desert Cove Recovery.