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The Connection Between Anxiety and Addiction

When you suffer from anxiety, it’s very likely for you to also struggle with addiction. Experts have known that this anxiety-addiction connection exists for years, but if you are one of the people who deal with this on a daily basis, you might be wondering why this is. Hopefully, as we go over anxiety and addiction, you will begin to understand a little bit more about how the addictive brain works as well as how suffering from anxiety can make addiction so appealing. You’ll also learn how addiction recovery can assist you with overcoming your addiction and gain valuable coping skills that can relieve your anxiety as well.

Addiction Offers Temporary Relief From Anxiety

If you have anxiety, regardless of how long you’ve been dealing with it, you’re always looking for ways to relieve it. Maybe you tried a lot of different things as a way to cope. You might have tried prescription medications, meditating, taking up a hobby and even psychological therapy and found that your results weren’t really what you were hoping they would be. One day you tried alcohol or drugs and suddenly, you felt relief. Your anxiety subsided and you found that you were able to think clearly for the first time in weeks, months or even years. Unfortunately, those feelings of relief were only temporary and you were unable to sustain that feeling for very long. As a result, you used drugs or alcohol again in an attempt to get relief. It worked. Temporary relief from anxiety is what drives many people to use drugs and/or alcohol because they don’t feel they have any other options. Their brains begin to quickly associate their use of substances with feeling better, which is exactly how addictions get their foundation. This is also why it can be difficult for anxious people to come to terms with their need for addiction treatment.

Addiction Breeds Substance Tolerance

Perhaps you’ve noticed that when you use substances, your anxiety is relieved for a little while. However, over time, you’ve also noticed that you needed to use more in order to experience that same level of relief. That is because addiction breeds substance tolerance. Your body and your brain can quickly become accustomed to the amount of the substance you’re using, whether it’s alcohol or another substance like marijuana, cocaine or heroin. You require more to achieve the relief, and so you use more. The next time, you might use even more. This cycle continues until your substance use reaches dangerous levels, or you even start looking for additional drugs to calm your anxiety. Tolerance levels can be scary. As they increase, you’re putting your body in serious danger, but because of the relief you feel from your anxiety, you don’t realize that right away. In fact, you might not ever fully realize it until someone who cares about you points it out to you. At that time, you might consider quitting, but that results in a new type of anxiety that you’ve never experienced before – the fear of withdrawal.

Fear of Withdrawal

If you were to ask any type of addict what they fear the most about quitting, they would tell you that they are afraid of going through withdrawal. That goes for someone who is addicted to cigarettes as much as for someone who is addicted to methamphetamine. If you’re struggling with addiction, it’s a word that probably conjures up fear in you as well. The question is, why? The fact is that something happens within your body physically when you experience withdrawal. It’s common for addicts to experience nausea, vomiting, shakes, chills and other types of physical symptoms. Anxiety is also common, and that level of anxiety can rise to extreme levels at times. For someone who has been using substances as a way to become free from anxiety, the idea of withdrawal is not appealing on any level. Some experts have even likened that feeling to a phobia like being deathly afraid of heights.

Addiction and Anxiety Treatment

The underlying problem for anyone with an addiction who is also struggling with anxiety is that this individual never learned the proper ways to cope with the anxiety that actually worked. They may or may not have tried a variety of methods, but when those failed, they immediately turned to drugs and/or alcohol. It’s additionally challenging because continual substance use effectively breaks down the limbic system in the brain, which is responsible for those coping mechanisms. Even so, the right kind of treatment can help with addiction recovery and anxiety relief too. Inpatient drug and alcohol treatment is a method that has proven to be very helpful for those who find themselves to be dealing with addiction and anxiety. Experts believe that being in a safe environment offers a form of physical and mental protection that these people need in order to achieve abstinence. It’s also helpful to know that someone is monitoring their withdrawal symptoms in an effort to help them through each episode as it occurs. As far as withdrawal is concerned, understanding withdrawal is also important. Many successful addiction treatment programs work because of the knowledge that’s provided about what withdrawal symptoms can be expected. Once people understand what can happen, they’re able to prepare themselves and learn the tools and techniques to use if and when they experience those symptoms. For example, there are a variety of quit smoking sites online, and many of these sites advocate “knowledge” as their quitting method as opposed to using a nicotine patch or nicotine gum. It has been proven that the known method is very successful, and it can work very similarly for you. Do you struggle with anxiety? Do you have an addiction? You are not alone and you’re not destined to suffer from constant withdrawal for the rest of your life. Help is available for you that can assist you with experiencing the freedom you desire. Contact us today if you’d like more information.