We’ve all experienced moments of panic — thinking you left your wallet somewhere, running late to an important appointment, realizing you forgot to do something until it’s almost too late. An excessive wave of anxiety that can wash over you is exceedingly overwhelming in the moment.
For individuals diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, however, that moment can drag into days and cause your loved one to self-medicate to find relief.
That’s why addiction tends to be so prevalent among people who’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
While it’s supremely unhealthy for your loved one to manage their emotions with alcohol or drugs, if they’re unaware of other anxiety coping methods, then addiction can easily take root.
Helping your loved one better understand the different types of anxiety that can affect them — and the way their emotions can influence their substance use — is important to avoid addictive patterns of behavior and aid them when it’s time to enlist professional addiction help.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
It’s important to remember that anxiety disorders tend to differ from normal feelings of apprehension and involve feelings of excessive fear or anxiety.
These emotional disorders are the most common mental disorders and will impact nearly 30% of adults at some point in their lives. (1)
Anxiety itself refers to the anticipation of a future concern and is more associated with muscle tension, avoidance behavior and self-medication.
Your loved one may be aware that their anxiety is excessive, and yet, they may still be incapable of managing their feelings without substance use.
What Are the 6 Types of Anxiety Disorders?
The six most common types of anxiety disorders your loved one can experience include:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD, is the most common anxiety disorder and is typically characterized by chronic worry, exaggerated apprehension and heightened tension — even when there is little or no cause to provoke those feelings.
- Social Phobia
This anxiety disorder is characterized by an irrational fear of social situations and results in intense shyness and social avoidance.
The idea of socializing or public speaking, interacting with strangers, dealing with authority figures, or even spending time with friends can cause a person to experience noticeable anxiety and fear.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
This anxiety disorder, also known as OCD, is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts known as obsessions, and repetitive behaviors that are known as compulsions.
Behaviors such as repetitive hand-washing, counting or excessive cleaning are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessive thought patterns or making them go away.
- Panic Disorder
A panic disorder is when a person experiences severe feelings of dread that causes both mental and physical symptoms related to excessive stress and anxiety.
These symptoms can be so intense that some people call an ambulance or go to the hospital because they are worried that something is dangerously wrong with their health.
- PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after experiencing a terrifying event where grave physical harm occurred or was threatened.
Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.
Agoraphobia is the fear of going out in public and can include the fear of open spaces or even the fear of being in unfamiliar places.
Many individuals with agoraphobia either never leave their home or do everything within their power to avoid traveling to certain places.
While some people can go to familiar places, they may otherwise experience nearly debilitating fear when going anywhere else.
How the 6 Types of Anxiety Disorders Can Lead to Addiction
- If your loved one finds themselves struggling with GAD or social phobia, they may turn to substance use to both manage their emotions and decrease the waves of anxiety when the symptoms flare up.
- If they have been diagnosed with OCD or PTSD, your loved one may rely on substance use as a form of self-medication to decrease their anxiety and help fight back traumatic thoughts or obsessive thought patterns.
- If your loved one struggles with panic disorders or even agoraphobia, then substance use may be their primary method of decreasing their debilitating anxiety fast enough to complete daily tasks and manage unforeseen anxiety throughout their day.
Whichever anxiety disorder your loved one may struggle with, the fact that it can really make their substance addiction worse is important to acknowledge before they become committed to that unhealthy form of symptom management.
Anxiety and Addiction Are Co-Occurring Disorders
Helping your loved one understand that treating substance abuse without treating the anxiety that causes it only addresses half their problem.
If the underlying cause of their anxiety is not appropriately addressed, your loved one’s desire to use will remain and can drive them back into addiction when their anxiety kicks up.
Because of this, finding a qualified co-occurring treatment facility to diagnose both disorders — mental health and substance addiction — is imperative to thoroughly identify all your loved one’s symptoms and assist them in creating an effective treatment plan that leads to long-term health and well-being, free from anxiety and addiction.
Holistic Dual Diagnosis Addiction Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery’s Tranquil Rehab Center
With customized treatment plans that fit your loved one’s unique recovery needs while offering an alternative to the traditional 12-step program, Ranch Creek Recovery’s holistic dual diagnosis treatment services will help your loved one better understand and learn how to manage their mental health issue; stop abusing drugs or alcohol; and forge a fulfilling, clean future.
Our treatment programs only accept six clients at a time. This allows us to provide your loved one with complete, individualized care and 24/7 support.
Through every dual diagnosis treatment program, holistic mindfulness and addiction recovery walk hand in hand, helping your loved one center their mind, body and spirit as they begin to create their new, sober life.
Learn more about our dual diagnosis addiction treatment programs.
Contact us today to get your questions answered.
1) American Psychiatric Association. What Are Anxiety Disorders? Accessed May 2, 2021. https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/anxiety-disorders/what-are-anxiety-disorders#:~:text=Anxiety%20disorders%20are%20the%20most,people%20lead%20normal%20productive%20lives.