Anxiety and Addiction: What You Need to Know

Anxiety and Addiction Concept in a Photo: Closeup portrait young unsure hesitant nervous woman biting her fingernails craving for something or anxious, isolated on gray wall background. Negative human emotions facial expression feeling woman suffering from anxiety.

Anxiety and addiction are conditions that are more common than most people may realize. Unfortunately, when both of these conditions are present, they are known to exacerbate each other. Substance abuse is likely to progress if a person is not receiving adequate mental health treatment for existing issues. In the same way, when problems with substance abuse are being ignored, mental health tends to worsen. Luckily, there are effective strategies to take care of both issues simultaneously. If you or a loved one suffers from anxiety and addiction, here’s what you need to know.


Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety is a condition that causes a person to be in a state of constant worry and fear. This condition can negatively affect one’s daily life, including work performance and personal relationships. Studies indicate that nearly 40 million Americans yearly suffer from an anxiety disorder. 

You may have an anxiety disorder when emotional distress interferes with daily activities. Individuals can have different levels of anxiety, ranging from moderate to debilitating. Although the disorder does not receive the focus it should, it is a severe mental health condition.

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Common Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) Include:

  • Persistent worry
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • An unrealistic view of problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Insomnia
  • Sleepiness

Physical symptoms such as:

  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Trembling

GAD can occur along with the following:

  • Panic attacks
  • Agoraphobia
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Selective mutism
  • Separation and other specific phobias.

Healthcare professionals are also noticing that signs of anxiety disorders run in families. In other words, this shows there may be a solid biological basis, much like any other physical illness similar to diabetes or cardiac issues.

Research shows that there is a set of factors that significantly contributes to the development of anxiety, including:

  • Genetics
  • Brain chemistry function
  • Personality
  • Life events

Getting help early gives the person the best chance for an easy and complete recovery.

Diagnosis and Mental Health Treatment

One of the most debilitating symptoms of this condition is always expecting the worst. This can be especially difficult when trying to achieve a new project or land a new job. It can be difficult to remain optimistic, but reminding oneself that this is a treatable condition can help tremendously.

It is essential to understand that different anxiety disorders have various courses of treatment. Some treatments are preventive, while some are for controlling symptoms or even as a solution to the problem. Prescription medications are beneficial for managing symptoms, but they work much better in conjunction with other forms of psychotherapy.

Antidepressants are one of the main tools to prevent, control, or combat anxiety disorders, especially SSRIs. These brand medications are Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft. While these drugs may work for some, it is crucial for the person’s safety and well-being that they first see a healthcare provider. There they will receive an individual diagnosis and a treatment plan that fits their unique health needs.

Anxiety and Addiction

Anxiety is a normal emotion that everyone experiences at one point or another. However, for some people, anxiety can become so severe that it interferes with their ability to function in day-to-day life. At our treatment program, many people self-medicate their anxiety with drugs or alcohol to cope with their symptoms. Unfortunately, this often leads to addiction and other negative consequences. The good news is that anxiety is treatable. The earlier you get treatment, the less damage anxiety will have on your life.

Treating Substance Abuse

Substance abuse treatment will not eliminate anxiety disorder. To find full recovery, it is necessary to treat both. Well-established medical drug detoxification followed by behavioral therapy can lead to an accurate diagnosis. Once the patient is free of the substance and emotionally present, the mental health professional can help him focus, identify, understand, and, more importantly, change his thinking and behavior patterns.

No matter which disorder came first, it is essential to get treated for both. First and foremost, it is crucial to find a provider that can effectively detox you from the addictive substance. Secondly, you need to find a mental health professional to diagnose your unique health needs carefully. As much as we would like a specific answer that would work for everyone, that is simply not reality.

The most critical factor in successfully treating anxiety and addiction is finding the proper treatment professionals. Make sure the treatment center has the services and resources that match your personal needs. Regardless of your path, remember that help is available, and life does not have to be this hard.


Anxiety disorder can be a crippling condition that affects every aspect of a person’s life. Anxiety is a constant battle that feels impossible to win for many people. Unfortunately, this often leads to self-medication with alcohol or drugs in an attempt to numb the feeling of anxiety. While this may provide temporary relief, it ultimately leads to more problems down the road. The good news is that anxiety is treatable, and many effective treatment methods are available. The sooner you seek help; the less damage anxiety will cause in your life. If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. There is no shame in seeking treatment; you deserve to live a happy and healthy life.