Alcohol Abuse and Anxiety

When both disorders occur simultaneously, anxiety and alcohol abuse may be a vicious cycle. Many people drink alcohol to relax and forget their anxiety, but excessive alcohol consumption may eventually lead to severe anxiety attacks. As such, both conditions present a dilemma.

Anxiety and alcohol may produce a dual diagnosis or co-occurring condition, which happens when someone has both a mental illness and a substance use disorder. To treat both conditions, the individual may need to enter an inpatient alcohol rehab.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), millions of U.S. citizens suffer from an alcohol use disorder (AUD) such as alcohol abuse or alcoholism. This means that a considerable part of the population drinks so much alcohol that they bring harm or stress to themselves or their loved ones. Individuals who have AUDs may have a high tolerance for alcohol or be physically dependent on it.

In addition, alcohol use disorder may produce mental, physical, or financial health problems. Alcohol abuse also co-occurs with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, and anxiety.

People suffering from AUD may be difficult to spot. They may act completely normal unless they are drunk. Even in that state, it may still be difficult to determine their drinking habits.

It is common to experience a certain level of anxiety at different times. Whether people are walking down dark alleys, answering questions on exams, or delivering speeches in front of large groups of people, people may experience some kind of fear. In other cases, they may feel that their well-being is threatened.

For people with anxiety disorders, such feelings of fear do not go away. They may even become worse as time goes by.

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Common Types of Anxiety

People who are suffering from anxiety disorders may have also experienced issues with their school or work performance, relationships, and sleep patterns. Common types of anxiety include:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Phobias
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Regardless of the type of anxiety, if a person has anxiety and a problem with alcohol or other substances, it is important to deal with both. Treatment for both addresses the dual diagnosis or co-occurring condition. If people fail to treat both disorders, the problems may become worse.

Dual diagnosis in an inpatient alcohol rehab facility provides simultaneous treatment for both alcohol abuse and accompanying mental illnesses.

How Are Anxiety and Alcohol Abuse Linked?

For some people, it is not clear whether their alcohol use disorders or their anxiety disorders came first. In many cases, substance abuse disorder occurs independently of anxiety problems.

That being said, people are different. They have varying reasons for using alcohol, so there is no all-encompassing reason that explains everything for everyone.

Some people’s anxiety disorders cause their alcohol abuse problems. They may resort to alcohol abuse to cope with their anxiety disorder. As a result, they may binge drink or consume alcohol in great quantities over a prolonged period of time.

Anxiety disorders may become worse if people engage in alcohol abuse and other substance abuse patterns. People with anxiety disorders are more prone to abuse alcohol and other substances compared to the rest of the population.

Many people may have both conditions. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) notes that “about 20 percent of Americans with an anxiety or mood disorder such as depression have an alcohol or other substance use disorder, and about 20 percent of those with an alcohol or substance use disorder also have an anxiety or mood disorder.”

Does Your Loved One Have a Co-Occurring Disorder?

It is quite hard to tell by mere observation if a person is suffering from alcohol use disorder and also has anxiety management issues. More often than not, the most efficient way to discover and deal with the matter is to speak to someone who knows what it feels like to be in such a compromising situation. If you are experiencing these symptoms yourself, you might have been even more anxious with the uncertainty and constant fear of your condition.

All along you were thinking that alcohol is merely helping you to cope with your stressors, but you failed to realize that the same substance also led you to an inpatient alcohol rehab for dual diagnosis.

For most people, this is the time when they may finally feel seeking the help and care of professionals is the best way to address the problem.

AUD (Alcohol Use Disorders) and Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety and alcohol use disorders both may adversely limit individuals’ abilities to live their lives to the fullest. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the following questions may help individuals determine whether they or their loved ones are struggling with alcohol use disorders (AUDs):

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If your loved ones are suffering from alcohol abuse and anxiety, or any substance abuse issue for that matter, it may not be easy for them to open up and admit that they need help. They may fear that you will become angry or reject them, but you can help them so much. Opening up to a loved one should be the refuge they seek.

Sadly, some families and friends become judgmental when dealing with people who are struggling with substance abuse. Instead of embracing them and assuring them that they are not alone, they may shut them out and leave them to succumb to their misery. This approach does not help at all.

People who are struggling with substance abuse do not choose addiction voluntarily. Life can drag you down. Many people turn to alcohol and drugs to help them cope with stresses and traumatic experiences. True help and care may come from understanding and embracing what they have become while helping them get through their addiction.

If you are the one who is struggling with addiction, know that your loved ones care about you and your life. Admit that you need their help and talk to them about your condition and your willingness to seek treatment.

Addiction is not an end. Anxiety, depression, and other mental conditions may be overcome with the appropriate diagnosis and treatment programs. Speak with an addiction specialist today and explore your or your loved one’s treatment options. There are various treatment programs you may consider. After rehab, you may also participate in aftercare programs that are designed to help you keep your sobriety for a lifetime.

You may struggle along the way, and that is perfectly normal. Addiction treatment and recovery is not easy. They require commitment and the will to redeem your life, your relationships, and your sobriety. While it may not be easy, it is certainly not impossible.

Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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