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.
An anxiety disorder, on the other hand, victimizes a person with a high level of doubt, nerves and tension for no discernible reason. If you imagine the unpleasant sensation you have in your body during the tense moments of watching a horror movie, and imagine that this is happening to someone all the time, but for no reason, that gives you some insight into what it is like.
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 substance abuse and anxiety combine in such a way, a “dual diagnosis” approach may be more suitable. This occurs when, if it hasn’t been diagnosed already, an evaluation of an addict reveals the presence of an anxiety disorder and changes the approach to treatment.
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
By treating both the anxiety and substance abuse at the same time, therapists get at both the cause and effect. Focused counseling and therapy can finally help someone that may have been experiencing years of anxiety disorder without the proper attention, bringing an end to a lifelong problem. Different methods of treatment can be administered at this stage from therapies such as art therapy or even equine therapy to more medically focused treatments, such as a prescription for anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medication.
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.
Get Help with Anxiety and Substance Abuse at Beachside
Through professional anxiety and substance abuse therapy provided by facilities like Beachside, a normal life free from addiction gets its maximum chance for success. Contact us today to get started on the road to recovery.
“Beachside Rehab was a life changing experience for me. I was so lost in life and my whole family had given up on me. Treatment was my last hope. I am so thankful I found Beachside. The therapy offices felt so comfortable and helped me calm down because I was so nervous."
“I loved Beachside! The staff, the facilities, and the program was amazing. So thankful I found this place! I highly recommend this treatment center!”
“I was treated on an individual basis. My treatment focused on my needs to get well. A beautiful setting and very caring staff members. I strongly believe that I have a support system I can depend on now and in my future! Thank you for giving me my life back!”
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From the Blog
George was recently diagnosed with a dual diagnosis. He checked himself into a treatment center for alcoholics and was surprised when the therapist told him that he has a dual diagnosis of alcohol abuse and anxiety. At first, George was confused, but as he talked...read more