At Free by the Sea here in the State of Washington, we understand the difficulty of attempting to make a change for the better. While working toward a new way of life, it is natural to encounter struggles and obstacles.
Since we understand that these challenges occur, we make every attempt to maintain an environment that feels completely safe and secure. Those suffering from addiction often struggle with the fear of the symptoms of withdrawal.
These fears can create a great deal of anxiety which may even prevent some from seeking proper help or treatment. We provide a variety of resources to ensure that the path to recovery is as comfortable as possible.
Some may find it extremely difficult to manage this anxiety, and the experience can have negative effects on their health. There is a connection between anxiety and substance abuse, especially as a way to cope.
However, alcohol and drugs can worsen anxiety disorders and cause other health problems/physical symptoms. Substance use may provide temporary relief from the effects of anxiety but will only serve to increase the feeling of anxiety in the long run. Anxiety and substance abuse
What Is Anxiety?
The simplest way to define it is as a general feeling of worry or concern. The level of anxiety experienced can vary widely. Some individuals may be so overwhelmed by their feelings of anxiety that it can be disruptive to their everyday life and the life of those around them.
For these individuals, their anxiety is an irrational and excessive amount of worry, often coupled with fear. Additionally, other disorders, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), share anxiety symptoms.
There are multiple types of anxiety disorder, each having its own set of symptoms and effects. Still, those who suffer from an anxiety disorder may find that certain symptoms cause challenges and obstacles to arise in their day-to-day lives.
Identifying the Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder
There are a number of psychological symptoms associated with anxiety, such as the following:
- Always anticipating the worst, certain of impending doom
- Feelings of apprehension or dread
- Difficulty concentrating
- Tendency to exaggerate the circumstances of a particular event or situation
- Feeling tense and jumpy
- Maybe prone to fight
- A general feeling of depression
- Inability to relax; restlessness
- Watching for signs of danger, hyper-alert
- Persistent fatigue and exhaustion
- Chronic headaches and migraines
- Difficulty sleeping insomnia
- Stomach upset or nausea
- Frequent urination or diarrhea
- Muscle tension
- Trembling or twitching, especially when nervous
- Breaking out in a cold sweat when anxious or nervous
- Pounding heart
- Shortness of breath
To better understand the effects anxiety disorders have on those who suffer from them, it is necessary to learn more about the different types of anxiety disorders. The National Alliance of Mental Illness identifies the following anxiety disorders:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Disorder
Also, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services identifies obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder as other types of anxiety disorders.
Taking a closer look at these disorders can help individuals to better understand the effects of anxiety on their lives while learning to treat anxiety symptoms. It can also help people to make more informed decisions when it comes to getting professional assistance and treatment.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Individuals who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) are often significantly affected by their anxiety. The effects of GAD on an individual may interfere with their daily lives and cause problems with interpersonal relationships.
Those who suffer from this disorder often find things to be anxious about. Eventually, this leads them to struggle with happiness. This can leave them feeling very dissatisfied with life.
Some of the main symptoms and signs of generalized anxiety disorder can become obstacles in a person’s life. Individuals who suffer from GAD may have trouble sleeping; they may have trouble falling to remaining asleep. Generalized anxiety disorder can also cause people to have uncontrollable feelings of concern and worry.
GAD may cause individuals to experience muscle tension, fatigue, and restlessness. Also, those who have generalized anxiety disorder might show signs of irritability and have a hard time concentrating or focusing.
These symptoms can cause people to struggle at work or school. It can also cause misunderstandings to arise within interpersonal relationships.
Individuals with a panic disorder can suffer from debilitating panic attacks that interfere with day-to-day life. Some more common panic disorder symptoms are as follows:
- Hot flashes or chills
- Heart palpitations
- The surge of overwhelming panic
- Nausea or stomach cramps
- Difficulty breathing or a choking sensation
- Chest pain or tightness, similar to a heart attack
- Uncontrollable shaking or trembling
- Numbness throughout the body
- The feeling of losing control or going insane
- Feeling detached from reality or unreal
Those who suffer from panic disorder may constantly feel nervous or afraid, wondering when the next panic attack will occur. They may also show signs of avoidance, attempting to steer clear of people, places, and activities that they think may trigger an attack.
Phobia-Related Anxiety Disorders
This anxiety disorder can prevent people from being effective at work or in school. It can also hinder individuals from building healthy relationships with others.
Another phobia-related anxiety disorder is agoraphobia. Individuals who suffer from this disorder may feel afraid in public transportation vehicles. Or, they may experience anxiety when in large open spaces or closed, tight spaces.
As a result of these fears, people with agoraphobia may avoid settings and environments where they feel that they may encounter what they fear. Other phobias include a fear of:
- Needles and injections
Anxiety and Substance Abuse: Dual Diagnoses
Sadly, many people who suffer from mental health disorders also struggle with substance use disorders. When a person has co-occurring disorders, the effects of each disorder may intensify and become more difficult to manage.
Some people who struggle with addiction may develop a mental health disorder as a result. In other cases, many of those who suffer from the effects of mental illness may become dependent on alcohol or drugs.
This may happen as a result of unhealthy coping mechanisms that involve substance use. In other words, people may try to cope with or even escape from the effects of mental illness. This can lead to the development of a substance use disorder.
It is important for those who suffer from co-occurring disorders to get professional treatment. But, it’s best to seek help from a dual diagnosis program rather than enroll in a program that only treats one disorder.
For example, if an individual is living with an anxiety disorder and a drug use disorder, getting treatment that only addresses mental health without dealing with addiction can be far from effective. Likewise, if a person suffers from alcoholism and anxiety, treatment won’t be helpful unless it addresses both of these disorders.
Anxiety and Alcohol
Alcohol has the power to interfere drastically with an individual’s life and their ability to enjoy it. Those individuals experiencing anxiety may become dependent on alcohol as a way to self-medicate in a search for relief from their symptoms.
Though some individuals may think that alcohol provides relief from these symptoms, eventually the consumption of alcohol will only exacerbate the symptoms associated with their anxiety.
When compared to people who do not suffer from anxiety-related issues, people who do have this disorder may be more likely to abuse alcohol if they use it often. Alcohol misuse is not a solution, and it can lead to even more problems and an increase in anxiety.
The vicious cycle that results from this pattern of abuse can throw an individual into a downward spiral that quickly causes their life to deteriorate. This leads to even greater anxiety. Finally, self-medicating with alcohol or other substances inevitably leads to physical and mental dependence, causing a dual diagnosis of both anxiety and addiction.
Even for those with no history of anxiety, alcohol abuse may ultimately lead to anxiety-related issues. Many times the root cause for the onset of panic attacks can be traced to alcohol abuse.
Because of this, alcohol should be regarded as a toxin that wreaks total havoc on the body. Alcohol abuse will only serve to increase the anxiety in an individual as more alcohol is consumed in an attempt to relieve that very same anxiety.
Anxiety Caused by Withdrawing from Alcohol
Withdrawal from alcohol and other substances can, without a doubt, result in increased feelings of anxiety. Once an individual comes to depend on alcohol, they often feel the effects of anxiety until they have consumed their first drink of the day.
The same is true of an individual trying to avoid alcohol, as the difficulty of abstaining from alcohol may also induce feelings of anxiety.
Unfortunately, many of those who are dependent on alcohol find temporary relief in turning to alcohol to ease the effects of withdrawal, but this is nothing more than a fleeting solution. To most effectively manage the anxiety, it is best for those dependent on alcohol to give it up altogether.
Anxiety and Drug Addiction
As is the case with alcohol, drugs can intrude on a person’s daily life. These substances can be very powerful, affecting the way a person thinks, feels, and behaves. These effects can be magnified and intensified when an individual is also struggling with an anxiety disorder.
Some individuals who suffer from anxiety also struggle with drug misuse. They may use drugs in an attempt to escape from the impact of anxiety, working to avoid the symptoms of their condition. Some of the drugs people may use in order to cope with anxiety may include heroin, cocaine, meth, and prescription drugs.
Getting Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders
If you are struggling with anxiety and substance use, we are here to help you! At Free by the Sea, we are committed to offering the best of care to each and every one of our clients.
Our facility is located on the Long Beach Peninsula in Ocean Park, WA. We work to present a comfortable and peaceful environment here on our beautiful campus. The facility is complete with 77 treatment beds and multi-sport areas where individuals can play basketball, volleyball, and exercise.
Our staff consists of certified addiction counselors and licensed mental health therapists. We offer various therapeutic approaches, including:
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
- Trauma therapy
We believe that therapy in addiction treatment helps to address the underlying causes of addiction. This, in turn, helps individuals to confront and work through their addictions and any negative behaviors or situations that might be contributing to those addictions.
Those who attend our treatment programs can also develop relapse prevention skills and addiction education through group therapy and individual counseling sessions. We offer residential (inpatient), partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient levels of care.
Contact Free by the Sea
The effects of drug and alcohol addiction are far-reaching. Not only does it negatively affect the life of the individual suffering from addiction, but it can also impact the lives of the friends and family of the individual, as well as their relationships. Addiction treatment can help break the never-ending cycle of addiction and put an end to the destructive behaviors alcohol dependence causes.