Anxiety is an unpleasant reality in the world and everyone experiences it. Whether a person is facing job cutbacks, relationship struggles, unruly children or even the pressures of work deadlines – all of us must learn to cope with anxiety at one point or another. Sometimes anxiety seems to take over a person’s life.
Perhaps the intensity of the anxiety led them into addiction or perhaps a person who abuses drugs or alcohol develops anxiety issues; either way it sometimes happens that people are left to deal with co-occurring problems which need to be addressed. When that happens there is help and some rehab centers even specialize in dual diagnosis treatment.
Dual diagnosis refers to the co-occurring instances of diagnoses for addiction and anxiety disorder (or another clinically diagnosed disorder). Regardless of which problem led to the other, both conditions should be treated at the same time in order to experience the freedom to live sober and healthy.
A person who is addicted to alcohol or drugs may receive any of the following anxiety diagnoses: obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, phobia, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or generalized anxiety disorder.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Addiction
The person suffering with OCD experiences continuous patterns of thought or fears which lead him/her to implement routines or rituals which help the sufferer to feel once again in control. These disturbing thoughts/fears are the obsessions and often related to control issues, sex, violence, contamination or even religion. The routines and rituals the person engages in are referred to as compulsions. A person exhausted by the endless cycle may seek relaxation or rest in alcohol or drugs.
Panic Disorder and Addiction
Some people begin to experience random but repeated panic attacks during which they feel a sudden onslaught of strong anxiety or controlling fear without any obvious cause. These episodes may be so intense that the person feels as if they are living through a heart attack. To calm themselves, people may turn to drugs or alcohol.
Social Anxiety Disorder and Addiction
Also referred to as social phobia, this condition causes sufferers to become so self-conscious that their fear of being made fun of or critically examined prevents them from engaging in normal social interactions. To cope with the loneliness and fear, the person may seek solace in numbing substances.
Phobias and Addiction
Phobias are incredibly strong fears either of objects or specific situations which go far beyond normal shyness or nervousness. The person with a phobia will make extraordinary efforts in order to not be in a situation or confronted with the object which instills fear. This sort of extreme avoidance keeps them from participating in the normal events of life. Drugs or alcohol may be turned to as a means of calming intense feelings of fear.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Addiction
PTSD results from exposure to a traumatic event which was so intense that the person cannot seem to forget it. Sufferers experience flashbacks, nightmares, even sensations reminiscent of the event. Such strong and fearful memories can cause a person to feel disconnected from others around him/her or to disconnect themselves emotionally from their present surroundings. Drugs or alcohol may be sought out as a means of erasing painful memories over which the person feels they have no control.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Addiction
This more general diagnosis describes a person given over to disproportional fears and anxieties. The sufferer may be completely aware that their level of anxiety is exaggerated yet feel helpless to combat the worry that they feel. Sufferers may attempt to self-medicate and soothe their irrational fear with alcohol or drugs.