Anxiety disorders and substance use disorders commonly co-occur. Studies show that individuals with anxiety disorders are 2-3 times more likely to have a substance use disorder at some time in their lives than the general population. In some cases, the substance use disorder may develop as an attempt to self-medicate anxiety symptoms. In others, anxiety symptoms are often seen with the use of substances of abuse and during withdrawal states. In some individuals there is likely to be a cyclic interaction — depressants, such as alcohol and opiates, may be used in an attempt to decrease anxiety, but during withdrawal states, anxiety is increased leading to an exacerbation of the anxiety disorder and making relapse to substance use more likely.
Since certain substances can themselves cause anxiety, the symptoms people are trying to manage via substance abuse may actually get worse. Fortunately, when people stop relying on what they’ve used to self-medicate, the anxiety level generally decreases.
Addiction and anxiety have to be treated carefully, by the appropriate health care professionals, in order to manage both the physical and mental aspects of these disorders. Optimal treatment depends on a team with the medical experience as well as the psychological experience to be able to work with people with both anxiety and substance abuse problems.
If you or a loved one is looking for treatment for any type of substance abuse we are here now to listen, answer your questions and address any of your concerns. We are committed to getting you or your loved one the help they need.