Anxiety in the United Sates: The Why and How
A common mental health illness in the United States that affects up to 40 million Americans is anxiety. Anxiety disorders, when compounded with substance use disorders or addiction, can intensify mental health disorders. Programs that implement dual disorders integrate mental health variables such as substance abuse or presently known as substance use disorders. Our experienced staff and mental health therapists at La Jolla Recovery have developed a unique attention to anxiety treatment to attend a client's needs in a personal approach. From post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to general anxiety disorders as well as social anxiety, it is critical that mental health be attended as a variable aside from substance use disorders and addiction. Our alcohol and drug addiction recovery programs include MAT (medication assisted treatment) optional, providing an integrative approach to attend mental health.
It is not uncommon for those suffering from anxiety to use other substances to self treat their anxiety such as alcohol. Given its nature as a depressant and impact on the prefrontal cortex and amygdala by soothing neurotransmitter activity, it might appear to provide a relaxation or calm effect yet not attend the roots of this anxiety or stress. Other medications or drugs such as benzos or opiates are frequently used in combination with alcohol, only to leave a user depressed or brought emotionally down. At La Jolla Recovery, anxiety therapy is a comprehensive approach to anxiety disorders in addition to substance abuse treatment.
The problem with continuing this vicious cycle of seeking comfort from drugs and alcohol to alleviate anxiety or depression is a furthering of the symptoms and a continuous search for coming to baseline or homeostasis. This usually leads to the user wanting to use more frequently and having deeper bouts of the mental health disorders that include anxiety. This physical and psychological dependence or now known as substance use disorder deepens and requires attention from detox throughout rehab such as outpatient.
Treating Anxiety with Substance Abuse
Self Treatment and Its Consequences
As time goes by, an individual requires higher levels of alcohol or drugs to feel the previous amount of stimulation and effect. This can lead to physical dependence and psychological triggers, addiction and what is now known as substance use disorder.
Removing oneself from alcohol or drugs causes an intensification of symptoms, furthering the difficulty to interrupt the pattern and cycle of use. Sleep loss, paranoia, irritability and hallucinations are not uncommon. Sudden alcohol withdrawal may even lead to seizures or cardiac problems. Medical attention such as physician, nurse and therapists are required during early stage of detox.
Research shows that less than half of those suffering from anxiety, specifically GAD or general anxiety disorder, receive the appropriate help. This leads to self medication and a non controlled environment of trying to alleviate symptoms and furthering mental health problems. Both the mental health and addiction rarely get attended.
Studies and research suggest that less than a half of people suffering from anxiety receive professional help, especially those who have a General Anxiety Disorder (GAD). This means that a huge number of sufferers self-medicate, most probably with alcohol and illicit or legal substances. It is also highly likely that they will not link their anxiety to their addiction problem.
Like all dual diagnoses, anxiety and alcohol or drugs have a complicated and intimate relationship. Many factors are at play: genetics, history of trauma, brain chemistry, medications that produce side-effects and substance abuse.
It can be quite difficult to distinguish where anxiety stops and addiction begins. Sometimes, anxiety is the result of the addiction and other times, it is vice versa. Cocaine, meth, marijuana and alcohol can also bring about anxiety as a consequence of their abuse.
The problem is perpetuated by the fact that abusing alcohol or drugs causes manifold problems in the individual’s social, emotional and professional life, which again makes the anxiety worse.