Understanding the Connection Between Anxiety and Substance Abuse

Anxiety is a widely applicable term and it can express symptoms of a big variety of conditions and mental health disorders. Anxiety is something we all know and experience, but the point when it becomes a mental health condition is less understood.

From a medical point of view, anxiety becomes a medical health symptom if the person experiencing it starts having problems in other areas of life because of it and has trouble controlling the symptoms once they appear.

There are so many connections between anxiety symptoms and several mental health disorders that it takes professional help to really determine the causes and effects of pathological or maladaptive anxiety. When it comes to substance abuse and its correlations to anxiety disorders, there is undeniable proof of determination.

How Anxiety Affects SUD

Studies show that people with anxiety disorders are two to three times more likely than others to have a substance abuse disorder at some point in their life. Generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder have the highest associations with alcohol or drug abuse.

The most dangerous thing about having these two disorders at once is that they feed each other, with anxiety fueling substance abuse, and substance abuse worsening the symptoms of anxiety. In today’s socio-economic circumstances, with the pandemic affecting our lives profoundly, the prevalence of both disorders has increased.

  • People often have untreated anxiety symptoms: less social contact, the lack of emotional support and reduced accessibility to mental health services lead to exacerbated anxiety symptoms.
  • Those with anxiety symptoms are likely to turn to substance abuse as a coping mechanism.
  • Addiction appears when the mechanism of pleasure, reward, and anticipation of reward appears. When the anticipation of reward comes as a result of an anxiety or panic attack, the pleasure given by alcohol or drugs is seen as indispensable.
  • As substance abuse doesn’t treat anxiety but numbs it, anxiety episodes keep appearing and the person uses more alcohol or drugs to deal with their co-existing condition.

As you can see, this carousel between anxiety disorders and substance abuse can lead to a very serious pattern of degradation, in some cases leading to suicidal ideation, overdose on drugs, and other grave issues.

Treating Comorbid Anxiety Disorders, SUD at Rehab UK

When anxiety disorders and substance abuse disorders coexist, the challenges of treating them are huge, but doable with the right kind of treatment and setting.

When the substance abuse associated with the anxiety disorder is significant, professional help is needed for coping with withdrawal symptoms during detox or anxiety symptoms that the patient doesn’t know how to cope with. Being admitted to a specialized rehab center might be needed to overpass this comorbidity and treat each disorder in relation to the other.

If you or a loved one are struggling with anxiety and substance abuse, start by seeking mental health support and understand that it’s a long-term recovery process. But those who address their disorders will definitely have a better life without their symptoms.

Contact our rehab in cape town today.

Skip to toolbar