Anxiety: a Core Cause & Symptom of Substance Abuse

The ugly head of anxiety rears itself in many forms throughout our lives. Some cases are much worse than others, requiring anxiety counseling or even hospitalization.

While we all experience anxiety on occasion, it is prevalent in situations where substance abuse occurs.

Not only is it one of the direct triggers for abuse, it exists as a symptom that manifests before, during and after abuse occurs. It is a “Catch-22” psychological disorder and it is difficult to combat without help.

Indirect Causes of Anxiety

Anxiety can be instigated in a variety of ways. As we evolve as a society, new and amazing things are constantly stacked up on us and, while wondrous and awe-inspiring, the constant need to adapt can be stressful. This is one of many indirect causes of stress-related anxiety that can lead to substance abuse in both addictive and non-addictive personalities. But it is significantly more detrimental in an individual that relies on substances to cope with life situations.

Why are indirect causes important to know? Situations and occurrences that are generally unavoidable, happen without the constraint of time or place, and aren’t targeted to any one individual fall into the “everyday life” category. How we deal with it weighs heavily on our well-being and the anxiety we experience. Things like socially awkward situations, continued education, politics, and a variety of broad globally consistent scenarios and topics are among a few on a long list of examples.

Anxiety & Addiction

A more direct cause of anxiety, one that leads to substance abuse, is addiction itself. While the anxiety we all experience on a daily basis is a factor that leads up to the abuse of drugs and/or alcohol, it is even more so a direct contributor to the prolonging of that abuse. The regular and excessive use of any mood or mind altering substances affects the chemicals in the body. Serotonin and dopamine are constantly being depleted which inhibits the body’s ability to handle stress naturally and causes anxiety and depression. It simply begets more use to maintain a stasis of normalcy.

In an addict, it occurs exponentially so. The more these substances are abused, the harder it is to gain control of anxiety. The ADAA (Anxiety & Depression Association of America) reports that those with anxiety disorders are 2 to 3 times more likely to develop a substance abuse problem.

Individuals who also suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) are among a number of diagnoses that experience both and it can be a painful cycle. It is important to also note that, even in the attempts of an individual to stop using these unhealthy coping mechanisms, the separation from these substances through the process of detoxification can cause debilitating mental and physical anxiety that should only be treated by a certified addiction specialist.

Treatment Options

Treatment for anxiety, especially in cases directly related to addiction, happens successfully with mental health and addiction professionals.

They will equip you with the tools you need to handle anxiety when situations arise. Quite often, treating one condition will not eliminate the other and it is best to address both substance abuse and anxiety together to lessen the chance of abusive behavior forming or relapse. Anxiety counseling is available through an addiction counselor to help you find healthier and safer coping mechanisms.

Anxiety Counseling Long Island & Queens, NY - Nancy Hilsenrath LCSW, CASAC, SAP

An effective and long-lasting treatment with cognitive & behavioral therapy can go a long way to achieving peace.

If you or someone you know suffers from anxiety or substance addiction, contact a mental health or substance abuse professional such as Nancy Hilsenrath, LCSW, CASAC, SAP. Relief is possible and you are not alone.

Contact Nancy Hilsenrath, LCSW, CASAC, SAP for info. about anxiety counseling near you.

EMAIL NANCY or call (718) 551-2777

3 COUNSELING LOCATIONS: West Hempstead, NY, Douglaston, NY, Hewlett, NY