Anxiety & Drug Use: The Disturbing Link: How Counseling Can Help With Both

Anxiety & drug use are often linked together. People who struggle with anxiety may turn to drugs as a way to self-medicate and calm down. However, while this may provide temporary relief, it can actually worsen the underlying anxiety in the long run.

In this blog, we explore this connection between anxiety & drug use and how counseling can help manage anxiety and learn better ways to cope.

Individuals Who Are Anxious Often Try To Get Away From Their Emotional Problems.

People who are worried or restless may drink in order to relieve tension. They may also attempt to soothe their fears by smoking marijuana or taking other illicit drugs.

Anxiety-related sleeplessness can cause individuals to overuse prescription sleeping pills such as Xanax and Ambien. They may also reach for sedatives like Ativan, Halcion, Restoril…

People who want to get out of their heads may turn to ketamine, PCP, LSD, and other psychedelics.

Individuals who are exhausted and have trouble concentrating might use energy-producing stimulants like cocaine, methamphetamine, and prescription stimulants like Adderal.

While these substances may provide temporary relief, they actually make things worse in the long run by feeding into a pre-existing problem.

Using drugs can lead to anxiety, since the user may begin to feel uncomfortable in social situations. If this happens regularly, it can lead to an increased risk of drug addiction.

Many people who suffer from chronic pain also deal with anxiety and depression. This can make it difficult for them to get through their day without resorting to some form of relief.
Unfortunately, prescription painkillers and opioids can be very addictive. They contain powerful ingredients like codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, methadone, morphine, oxycodone, and tramadol.

Each of these substances has the potential to cause a number of side effects. They can cause lightheadedness, drowsiness, confusion, constipation, and nausea upon first use. Long-term use can cause serious health problems.

Anxiety and Depression Can Lead To the Abuse of Stimulant Drugs.

Anything that slows down neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine in the brain can cause depression and anxiety to surface. This is why stimulants like methamphetamine and cocaine can be so dangerous. They create feelings of euphoria by stimulating the brain’s pleasure center. This kind of euphoria can quickly turn into irritability and agitation if it is not maintained. For this reason, stimulant abusers often binge on these drugs to avoid crashing. This can lead to long-term issues with the heart, brain, and liver. Overdose is also a very real possibility in these cases.

Anxiety Might Alter the Brain, Making it More Susceptible to Substance Abuse

Constant anxiety causes a tiny almond-shaped gland called the amygdala to grow larger in the brain. It then increasingly releases hormones as a fight-or-flight response and causes problems with mood, memory, and judgment resulting in hyperactivity.

The link between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex is also weakened by anxiety. Individuals have difficulties reasoning sensibly when this happens. These alterations in the brain can make people more vulnerable to drugs and alcohol and more impulsive in general.

Drugs and Alcohol Can Increase Anxiety Levels

Those who drink alcohol to excess might make themselves more anxious in the long run. If they do this often enough, they might begin to feel a constant sense of unease. This can turn into a fear of going out in public, and the person might start to feel excessively timid.
Trying alcohol in social situations can also lead to awkwardness, further exacerbating the person’s anxiety.

Choosing to drink alone or in a private setting can increase feelings of guilt and shame about the social stigma of alcoholism. Many people turn to drugs and alcohol to escape their anxiety. As a result, they might become more anxious and feel like they cannot function without these substances. This can lead to increased drug use, dependence, and addiction.

How Can Counseling Help?

Counseling can be very helpful in treating anxiety disorders. Behavioral therapy might teach the person how to manage their feelings more constructively. Cognitive therapy can help them to think about situations in a different light, allowing them to face their fears without resorting to drugs or alcohol.

If you or someone you know is struggling with both anxiety and drug abuse, please seek help today. There is no shame in seeking assistance; in fact, it shows great strength and courage. You are not alone in this battle; there is support available for you. Contact me today for more information.