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AnxietyWhat is an Anxiety Disorder?

For individuals who struggle with an anxiety disorder, anxiety is a crippling reaction that prevents them from moving forward in their work, social interactions, and in their personal relationships. Anxiety can be generalized, or it can occur in specific circumstances, such as in social situations.

Often, anxiety disorders and substance addiction occur simultaneously, leading to the need of treatment for co-occurring disorders. At Get Treatment, we can help you find a top-rated dual diagnosis treatment center that provides specialized programs for individuals struggling with anxiety and substance dependence.

What are the Symptoms of Anxiety?

The noticeable signs of an anxiety disorder can include:

  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Severe muscle tension
  • Feelings of fatigue
  • Unexplained feelings of intense worry

Anxiety may also demonstrate itself as a panic attack. Panic attacks are usually accompanied with a rapid heart rate and difficulty breathing. Individuals can freeze up and shut down completely when a panic attack occurs. The fear and panic they experience is accompanied by worry about future events and fear of current events.

What are the Types of Anxiety Disorders?

Examples of identified and diagnosable anxiety disorders include:

  • Specific phobias
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Agoraphobia
  • Separation anxiety

These disorders are thought to have both genetic and environmental origins, with common risk factors including child abuse, poverty, and a family history of mental disorders. People living with anxiety-related conditions often turn to drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication. Drug addicts can also develop this mental health issue as a direct or indirect result of their drug abuse.

When two conditions such as anxiety and addiction occur together, experts refer to it as a co-occurring disorder. In addiction treatment, it is also called a dual diagnosis. These patients require careful assessment and diagnosis in order to provide the right treatments to ensure a successful recovery

Experts believe that individuals often try to manage their symptoms of anxiety with drugs or alcohol, as they have been known to temporarily reduce feelings of anxiousness. However, this behavior has been known to end in addiction. For example, alcohol and anxiety are commonly paired because the substance is readily available and can usually be found in social settings.

The interactions between mental health and addiction are complex, as they can occur in a variety of ways. In some cases, prolonged substance abuse leads to the development of a mental health problem. Whereas, in other cases, a mental health issue may be the root of the addiction. In many circumstances, those suffering from a mental illness will attempt to self-medicate. Due to these variations in the development of co-occurring disorders, professional support is necessary to determine the source of the problem and treat it accordingly. An effective dual diagnosis treatment program develops a treatment regimen based on each individual’s unique needs.

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Common Co-Occurring Disorders

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a number of mental health disorders are commonly found in individuals struggling with addiction:

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Addiction counselors must carefully observe individuals as they enter treatment programs. A thorough assessment can often uncover the emotions and behaviors that indicate a mental health problem is present. However, a complete diagnosis may not be possible until the patient has undergone the process of detoxification.

After detoxing, the addict’s physical and emotional state can be properly assessed. Medications may be prescribed to alleviate feelings of anxiety and fearfulness and individual and group counseling can help uncover the root cause of the disorders.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has long been known to help these individuals recognize their negative thoughts and emotions. Recognizing these thoughts and behavior patterns can help addicts to replace substance abuse with positive, healthy responses. This is a form of relapse prevention. Relapse prevention is an integral part of treatment. In these programs addicts learn their “triggers” for substance use and how to intervene with positive, productive strategies.

Importance of Aftercare

Addiction aftercare can be particularly important for individuals struggling with anxiety and addiction. Treatment must ensure that addicts are provided medications to deal with their symptoms effectively. Additionally, individuals must set up a support system that is available to them once their time in treatment has come to an end. Professional counseling, peer support, medication management are all critical to success in recovery from addiction.

Both addiction and mental health issues require individualized treatment that provides unique solution for each addict’s needs. If you or a loved one suffers from anxiety and substance abuse, explore your options for dual diagnosis treatment and gain control of your life again.


  1. Abuse, N. I. (n.d.). Comorbidity: Addiction and Other Mental Disorders. Retrieved August 30, 2016, from
  2. Abuse, N. I. (n.d.). Why do drug use disorders often co-occur with other mental illnesses? Retrieved August 30, 2016, from

Last updated on April 6th, 2017 at 06:47 pm

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