While anxiety is an emotion everyone experiences at some point in their lives, some people suffer from anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders are more than just periodical feelings of fear and worry. People with these conditions suffer from persistent and intense anxiety that causes significant disruption to their daily lives.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States.”
Anxiety is one of the most common conditions to co-occur with addiction. Addiction is characterized by the inability to stop using substances despite facing negative consequences in each area of one’s life. When someone experiences both conditions, they must be treated simultaneously.
Why Do Anxiety and Addiction Co-Occur?
When someone has both an anxiety disorder and a substance use disorder, they have co-occurring disorders or a dual diagnosis. This means that the person struggles with symptoms from both conditions. There are a few different reasons why anxiety and addiction may occur at the same time, including self-medication and substance-induced anxiety.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “About 20 percent of people with an anxiety disorder also suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence.”
There are many different kinds of anxiety disorders. Some of the most common include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Panic disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Self-medication occurs when an individual begins abusing substances to cope with an untreated mental health condition. In the case of anxiety, it is common for individuals to begin using substances to soothe their feelings of worry, fear, and even social anxiety. While substances like benzodiazepines, marijuana, or alcohol can limit feelings of anxiety and stress at the moment, the person’s symptoms tend to worsen over time.
Substance-induced anxiety is actually fairly common. To explain, substance-induced anxiety is a disorder that develops when an individual uses substances or undergoes withdrawal from a drug and experiences anxiety and panic attacks as a result. This is extremely common among individuals who abuse stimulant drugs like methamphetamine or suffer from withdrawal symptoms after being addicted to benzodiazepines.
What to Expect in a Dual Diagnosis Program for Anxiety and Addiction
When someone suffers from comorbid anxiety and addiction, they must be treated for both conditions at the same time. If the individual only received treatment for their substance use disorder, the symptoms of their anxiety could trigger an addiction relapse and vice versa.
Because of this, dual diagnosis treatment programs were created. These programs provide the treatment for addiction and co-occurring mental health conditions like anxiety disorders. Let’s take a look at what to expect during a dual diagnosis program for anxiety and addiction in New Jersey.
During medical detox, a patient will be medically cleared from any and every drug in their system. Because removing substances from a person’s system who was addicted to the drug will cause withdrawal symptoms, FDA-approved medications may be provided. These medications make detox a smoother and less painful process.
While the most common medications for anxiety are benzodiazepines, they are usually not provided to patients recovering from addiction because of their propensity for abuse. It is important to note that not every patient who suffers from anxiety will require medications, however, sometimes they can help the patient manage their symptoms while they attend therapy.
The medications most commonly used during anxiety and addiction treatment include SSRIs and SNRIs. SSRIs are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and are highly effective in treating both depression and anxiety. SNRIs are selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors and are usually used in patients who do not respond well to SSRI medications.
During a dual diagnosis treatment program in New Jersey, an emphasis is placed on the importance of behavioral therapy for anxiety and addiction recovery. While medication can mask the symptoms of anxiety, therapy helps individuals learn to manage it and recover from the root causes.
Additionally, many of the therapies used to treat anxiety also help individuals recover from the disease of addiction. As the individual recovers from their anxiety, behavioral therapy can also help them learn to identify their triggers for addiction and begin to use proper coping mechanisms to avoid the imagined need for substance abuse.
Common types of therapy used to treat anxiety and addiction include:
- Group counseling
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Exposure therapy
- Psychodynamic therapy
- Interpersonal therapy
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
Relapse Prevention Planning
Lastly, individuals need to know how to apply the tools they have learned during treatment to real-life situations when they complete their programs and go home. Relapse prevention planning helps people create a plan that will help them avoid relapsing during tough times.
Aspects of relapse prevention planning that prevent relapse in comorbid anxiety and addiction include:
- List of triggers (for anxiety and addiction) and coping mechanisms to use
- List of sober supports to call in times of need
- Continued medication management if needed
- Continued attendance to individual therapy and group counseling
- Attendance of 12-step meetings and alumni support groups
- Referrals to sober living homes and halfway houses
Get Connected With an Anxiety and Addiction Treatment Program in New Jersey
If you or a loved one suffers from co-occurring anxiety and addiction, it’s time to consider professional treatment. Struggling with co-occurring disorders is never easy, especially when you do not have the tools you need to cope.
Thankfully, Moving Mountains Recovery Center can help you learn how to live a life free of substances and teach you how to manage the symptoms of your anxiety disorder. Contact us today for more information on our dual diagnosis treatment program in New Jersey.