How to Get Help for a Co-Occurring Addiction and Anxiety Disorder

Last Updated: April 10, 2023

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Both a substance use disorder and an anxiety disorder are tough to cope with on their own. People who have drug or alcohol addictions and mental health issues at the same time struggle with co-occurring disorders. If both types of disorders are diagnosed, it is important that addiction treatment programs treat both issues at the same time, as each can influence the other.

For some people, mental health issues can lead to addiction, while for other people, the opposite is true. Since both disorders can exacerbate each other’s effects, appropriate treatment involves addressing both conditions at the same time.

What Is the Connection Between Addiction and Anxiety?

Studies have shown that many people with addiction also struggle with some form of anxiety or depression. Not only can anxiety and addiction often exist together, but anxiety may also contribute to a drug or alcohol addiction. Interventions to alleviate anxiety can minimize the potential for future substance misuse.

Why does anxiety often lead to the development of a substance use disorder? Several factors may be at work. For instance, some people who face anxiety may take drugs or alcohol in an effort to self-medicate and escape their troubles. Sometimes, people with anxiety disorders might also be predisposed to be more likely to misuse drugs or alcohol. Although drugs and alcohol can help people with anxiety feel better, as do medications that are designed to alleviate feelings of anxiety, self-medication is highly dangerous and can lead to addiction.

When anxiety and addiction occur together, co-occurring disorder treatment protocols must be fine-tuned to treat a person’s specific needs. If only one disorder is treated while leaving the other unaddressed, the chances of setbacks tend to be greater.

How Can Both Addiction and Anxiety Be Effectively Treated in Rehab?

If treating a substance use disorder is done without addressing any underlying anxiety, the chances of the patient reverting back to drug and alcohol use are much higher. This is especially true if there is a causal relationship between the person’s anxiety and addiction.

Treating both substance use disorder and anxiety can be difficult as both disorders can be deeply intertwined in the brain. The longer these issues are left untreated, the more likely that changes have been made in the brain which will need to be addressed and reversed.

Effective treatment should ideally involve neurological intervention to basically undo the damage done by anxiety and addiction. Several types of treatment can be simultaneously involved, which has been clinically proven to have a positive effect on both addiction and anxiety. Some of these may include:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Medication
  • Group therapy
  • Exercise
  • Meditation

Do You Have a Co-Occurring Disorder?

If you are struggling with both an anxiety disorder and an addiction, you owe it to yourself to get the right type of help. Treating both issues at the same time will give you the best chance of success.

To find a rehab center and program that is equipped to treat both issues, contact Orlando Recovery Center today.

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