In today’s stress-filled world, anxiety disorders are on the rise, with over 19 million Americans affected. There are many types of anxiety disorders but when alcohol and substance abuse gets thrown into the mix, these conditions become even more complicated. Alcohol and substance abuse fuels anxiety disorders that are already present. In addition, people with anxiety disorders are two to three times more likely to have an alcohol and substance abuse disorder. In fact, the more one looks at the issue, the more obvious it is that a vicious cycle exists between anxiety and substance abuse.
When considering the anxiety and substance abuse cycle it can often be difficult to determine which comes first, the anxiety disorder or the alcohol and substance abuse. Some examples that are frequently seen include:
- Social anxiety disorder leading to alcohol abuse: a person with social anxiety disorder typically feels nervous and uncomfortable in even the most common social situations. They often turn to alcohol to lessen their anxiety.
- Post traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse occuring together: terrible dreams and hallucinations are often associated with post traumatic stress and a variety of substances. As a result, using certain substances – especially illegal ones – can increase the feelings associated with traumatic experiences, leading to the official disorder. Likewise, post traumatic stress can lead a person to drugs as a way to escape their condition.
- Alcohol or drugs causing panic disorder: alcohol and drug-induced states can lead some people to hallucinations or experiences that cause panic attacks. As panic attacks occur more often the person develops panic disorder, or the constant anxiety or fear that they will experience a panic attack.
When alcohol and substance abuse occur with an anxiety disorder, treatment can be tricky. Treating the substance abuse will not cure the anxiety disorder or vice-versa, so it is best to treat the anxiety and substance abuse simultaneously. This is especially effective in helping to prevent a relapse. Therapy generally consists of cognitive behavior therapy, which helps the person identify, understand, and change their thinking and behavior patterns. Since medication can be a common part of anxiety disorder treatment, it must be approached carefully in order to avoid aggravating the substance abuse disorder and any chemical interactions that could occur as a result of that condition. If medicine is indicated, most doctors will prescribe medications with low abuse potential.
For more information about anxiety and substance abuse disorder and treatment in the Delray Beach, Florida area, contact South Florida anxiety therapist Dr. Andrew Rosen at 561-496-1094 or email him today.