Why are Anxiety and Substance Abuse Linked?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, many people who suffer from a mental illness such as anxiety also suffer from substance abuse issues. Anxiety sometimes causes substance abuse and the abuse of most drugs causes anxiety. This provides the link between substance abuse and anxiety.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a lasting fear that does not have a reason and does not go away. Most people who suffer from anxiety describe it as:
- Unexplained nervousness,
- Constant worry,
- Panic also associated with panic attacks,
- The inability to act due to fear,
- Paralyzing fear in different situations, and
- Constant adrenaline.
People suffer from anxiety generally suffer from one of three anxiety disorders. These disorders are:
- Generalized anxiety disorder – a general feeling of unease all the time, constant worry.
- Panic Disorder – people with panic disorder suffer from debilitating panic attacks that sometimes resemble and can cause a heart attack.
- Social Anxiety Disorder – social anxiety disorder is anxiety and panic attacks in social situations.
These disorders are very common in teens and young adults. Very often, they require treatment in an inpatient or outpatient treatment facility. Treatment for anxiety disorder is a combination of medications and therapy depending on the type of anxiety disorder.
Unfortunately, the only medications available for anxiety disorders are benzodiazepines. These drugs are highly addictive and cause substance abuse themselves.
Anxiety causing Drug Abuse
In order to alleviate anxiety addictive drugs are usually used. The benzodiazepines that treat anxiety are very addictive and difficult to get off once you are on them. They also cause serious problems during withdrawal. Most people who wind up addicted to benzodiazepines do so because they started them for anxiety treatment.
Another way anxiety causes substance abuse is through self medication. Many people suffering from anxiety describe being willing to do anything to stop feeling of anxiety so they take prescription and illegal drugs to stop it.
Drug Abuse Causing Anxiety
Most drugs of abuse cause some form of anxiety particularly during withdrawal from the drugs. Doctors recognize this and often treat the anxiety while treating the substance abuse problem. Unfortunately, the only drugs that have been proven to be useful in treating this anxiety are addictive themselves. This just creates a cycle of medicating for anxiety and then having to treat the substance abuse problem that this medication creates.
It is only through treatment and counseling that this cycle can be broken. Most people trapped in the cycle remain on anti-anxiety drugs for a long time after the initial addiction is gone. They do this because they cannot just stop taking anti-anxiety drugs without suffering from withdrawal and other serious side effects.
For more information on anxiety and its link to substance abuse, call use at 1-800-895-1695. We can help you find a treatment center for both the anxiety and the substance abuse problems. Regardless of which causes the other, both can be treated by using a rehab facility and other resources available.