The co-occurrence of anxiety and substance use disorders is common. This is why, at Laguna Shores Recovery, located in Mission Viejo, California, we offer specialized treatment programs for individuals recovering from substance use disorders and mental health conditions like chronic anxiety.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal response to overwhelming and stressful situations in everyday life. It is a feeling to be expected occasionally for any person and it can actually be helpful as we navigate everyday life. It’s the feeling that protects us by activating our fight or flight system when it is triggered in response to a potential threat. Although anxiety is a normal response to stress, it can get out of control, especially if you are finding that you are unable to find relief from worries, even when nothing seemingly dangerous or life-threatening is happening around you.
According to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), an estimated 19.1% of adults have some form of anxiety disorder. These types of disorders are slightly more common among women (23.4%) than men (14.3%).
Types of Anxiety Disorders
There are several different types of anxiety disorders. You may find yourself experiencing just one specific type or more than one at the same time. Symptoms also overlap between types frequently. Because of the complexity of these disorders, it is helpful to have a trained professional to guide you as you begin recovery.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is one of the most common types of anxiety disorders. It is characterized by excessive feelings of worry and fear about life, relationships, work, social interactions, and everyday circumstances. This worry and fear can cause significant distress and impairment in an individual’s ability to cope with everyday life. Symptoms may include:
- Feelings of restlessness and being on-edge
- Difficulty concentrating
- Blank mind, brain fog
- Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
- Increased muscle tension
- A variety of sleep problems from not being able to fall asleep, stay asleep, or get deep sleep
Panic Disorder involves experiencing recurrent and often unexpected panic attacks. These panic attacks are filled with intense feelings of fear and can occur with or without a trigger that activates the fear response. You may find yourself worrying about when the next attack will happen and doing everything you can to try and avoid it happening again. Symptoms of panic attacks include:
- Increased heart rate
- Shaking and trembling
- Shortness of breath
- A sense of impending doom
- Feelings of being out of or losing control
Phobia-Related Disorders are a type of anxiety disorder where the anxiety present is related to an intense fear of a particular object or situation. Although it can be normal to experience fear related to objects and situations you are uncomfortable around, the amount of fear experienced in a phobia-related anxiety disorder tends to be out of proportion to the actual situation or object. Symptoms may look like:
- An irrational, excessive, or unexplained worry about coming into contact with the feared situation or object
- Taking steps to avoid the feared object or situation
- Intense anxiety when the feared object or situation is encountered
Social Anxiety Disorder is characterized by an intense fear about, worry toward, and anxiety around social and performance-related situations. This fear often stems from the fear that they will be negatively judged or evaluated by others, leading them to feel rejected, inadequate, and embarrassed. These social situations are usually avoided to remove the feelings of anxiety and discomfort that arise in the presence of others. Social anxiety can manifest in a variety of different environments.
Symptoms often include avoiding social situations and an increase in symptoms similar to generalized anxiety disorder when in social situations, causing intense fear and discomfort.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder involving uncontrollable intrusive thoughts and repetitive behaviors. We all experience random thoughts from time to time, but for people with OCD, these thoughts are persistent and cause severe anxiety when they occur. In response to these thoughts, and to relieve the anxiety around them, people with OCD develop rituals they perform compulsively. Common rituals include excessive cleaning or counting objects. These obsessions and compulsions take up a significant portion of the day and become an impediment to living a normal life.
Anxiety and Substance Use Disorders
A dual diagnosis of both an anxiety disorder and substance use disorder can be especially challenging to face. Often, people who suffer from both conditions find themselves locked in a pattern of use to try to manage symptoms of anxiety. Using drugs or alcohol to manage one’s anxiety symptoms can cause the same symptoms to become exacerbated when the effects of those substances wear off. This higher level of anxiety feels intolerable and thus, people with these co-occurring disorders are driven towards use again.
Fortunately, there is a path out of this cycle. At Laguna Shores, we offer treatment that addresses both disorders simultaneously and is customized to your individual needs.
What Helps Treat Anxiety Disorders?
There are several treatments and therapies that get to the root causes of whichever type of anxiety you are recovering from. At Laguna Shores, we offer a variety of different therapies, so that you can find the one that works best for you, as the path toward recovery is not a one-size-fits-all.
The types of therapy we incorporate into recovery in a way that makes sense for you may include a combination of modalities such as:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
- Experiential Therapy
- Life Skills
Receiving a dual diagnosis of anxiety and substance use disorder can feel debilitating and confusing. It can be hard to know which to tackle first, which is why, at Laguna Shores Recovery, we treat both at the same time. To learn more, call us today at 866-934-5276.