A Deadly Partnership
When addiction happens on its own, the therapy and treatment focus on taking a relatively well-adjusted person, and helping him or her to overcome the addiction itself. In some instances, this might even be as simple as a detoxification to purge the substance from a person’s body and eliminate the actual physical dependency that their body developed for the substance. Heroin and painkillers are examples of this kind of purely physical addiction. In other cases, however, an addiction happens not by itself, but as an effect of a much more serious, underlying condition that has remained undiagnosed and untreated until now. Anxiety disorders are one of those cases.
Anxiety and substance abuse go, unfortunately, hand in hand. An anxiety disorder can easily remain undiagnosed simply because most people—including the sufferer—don’t recognize anything as being wrong. A person and those around him or her may simply believe that the person has a “nervous disposition,” and leave it at that.
What Is an Anxiety Disorder?
An anxiety disorder is not about being nervous, although that is often a component of the problem. Everyone experiences anxiety at some point in their lives, but usually there is a visible, understandable source for the anxiety. Stress about performing well on an exam, a relationship that is experiencing instability, or worry over someone close to us who has been in an accident and hospitalized are all understandable situations in which anxiety is normal.
A constant dread or nervousness that won’t go away can, over time, become intolerable. At that point, it’s understandable why anyone would seek out a solution to make these feelings go away, and for some, escape into drugs and alcohol become that solution, then turn into addiction.
The Dual Diagnosis Approach to Anxiety and Addiction
When an underlying condition is responsible for driving someone to substance addiction, it is important to treat both the addiction and the disorder at the same time. Merely putting someone through detox and withdrawal is not going to solve the problem. All this means is that once the person’s physical addiction has treated, the anxiety disorder will continue to make life unbearable, causing the person to eventually return to some other form of addiction for escape.
Treating Anxiety and Substance Abuse
In this way, the substance abuse and anxiety both get the attention they deserve. The physical effects of addiction are purged through the detoxification process, while the foundation of the problem, the anxiety episodes, are finally diagnosed, acknowledged and treated. Once the person eventually comes to grips with and controls the anxiety issues, there is no longer a need to escape from the constant distress and negativity; those feelings no longer have the same power or influence.
To learn more about our dual diagnosis program contact us today.