Anxiety disorders are some of the most common reasons that people develop addiction problems, leading them to need professional guidance in order to end these problems. Anxiety is a neurological disorder and a mental health disorder. Your anxiety disorder is not your fault. One of the things that cause anxiety disorder is genetics.

However, if someone has both anxiety and an addiction disorder it is impossible to successfully treat someone’s anxiety without treating their addiction and vice versa.

Treating anxiety will not cure someone’s addiction and if the addiction is treated without treating the anxiety the person will relapse because their motivation to abuse substances like alcohol will still be there.


Can Someone Be Born With Anxiety?

Unfortunately, for some people, mental disorders like anxiety start at birth. This is one reason that some people don’t get help. Besides that, it seems to be normal for them, at least during childhood. Other people tend to brush it off as “that’s just the way they are” or “that’s just the way that you’ve been since a kid. That’s just who you are.” 

Even if this is the “normal”, for some people it can still cause them to seek out substances to help them deal with their anxiety disorder. Just because something occurs naturally does not mean that it is healthy.


Why Do People With Anxiety Drink and Take Drugs?

Substances such as heroin and alcohol can help some people relax and can temporarily help them find relief from their disorder. However, the person can become dependent on these substances to find relief. Tolerance starts to develop. Tolerance is when a person develops a natural resistance to the mental effects of the substance. The brain rewires to try to protect itself from substances such as alcohol. This causes the person to take more of the substance to get the same effect.


What is Tolerance?

Although tolerance is a natural mechanism of the brain that it uses to try to shield itself from the effect of the substances, it does not stop the negative effects of the oxycodone, fentanyl, or other substances being abused. For example, the brain might start to develop a tolerance to alcohol but the alcohol can still cause Wernicke–Korsakoff Syndrome and other problems.

Think of it like inflammation. Inflammation is not a useful mechanism on the part of the body in almost any instances. This is why so many anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin and other over the counter medicines and pharmaceutical grade anti-inflammatory medications have been developed and are in common use. If the brain did not rewire to protect itself against substances like cocaine, tolerance would not develop. That does not mean that tolerance will in any way stop the brain and other body parts from being damaged by the substance being abused.


Can Anxiety be Treated? 

For those who have an anxiety disorder, anxiety is a natural part of genetics and life. Fortunately, anxiety can be effectively treated. If your anxiety persists throughout mental health treatment designed for your anxiety disorder, in particular, you may simply not be on the right medication(s), the dose of medication(s), and/or combination of medications.


Why Can’t Doctors Cure Anxiety?

Modern psychiatrists have much more knowledge, training, and resources than they did even twenty years ago. Despite this, it is not an exact science. If someone has cancer, recovery can be measured by things like reduction or growth in tumor size. If someone has diabetes, doctors can measure blood sugar. Even extremely well-respected books like the DSM-5 which provides categories and definitions for different disorders are considered secondary to a doctor’s judgment.

This is not because these doctors consider themselves above some well thought out books; reputable doctors keep up with the popular research. However, doctors know their patients and the groups of people they help better than books like the DSM-5 which, although very helpful, is limited by how long it takes for the DSM books to be updated. Updating the DSM is an ongoing process as it tries to keep up to date but the human mind is evolving very quickly and it is impossible for any manual to be completely accurate at any one time.

Why Do Studies Say Different Things?

This is why there are conflicts between books that are created by committees over years and individual studies that are more nimble and provide snapshots can sometimes be in contradiction with the books. Studies often only look at particular groups of people with particular disorders, not the population at large. It is often left to you and your doctor to decide which studies fit you best as a person.


Do I Have to Research My Anxiety to Find Help?

While we here at DreamLife Recovery can treat your co-occurring condition(s), we do encourage you to do some research. Knowledge is very valuable and personal research can help you present facts to your loved one about various conditions you or they may be facing. It can also help soothe someone with a disorder by letting them know that they are not alone and that there are medically sound ways to treat their anxiety that do not involve the side effects that abusing alcohol, heroin, and other drugs will cause later in life such as liver damage immune system disorders, brain damage, and other hard to handle issues.

We encourage you to look in the reference section of this article for more information on anxiety, substance abuse, and what can happen if you abuse substances for too long. In the end, when problems like brain damage occur due to life-long addiction disorders like alcoholism, you will still have to detoxify, get treatment for your anxiety, and go through the rest of drug rehabilitation. Alcoholism does not disappear on its own, no matter how long you wait. You can be addicted to alcohol for 25 years and you will still be addicted in 25 more years unless you get help.

Why are Anxiety Disorders Hard to Treat?

Disorders like anxiety are harder to measure. What someone might rate their anxiety as an 8 on a scale of 1-10 might be a 5 for someone else. Scales such as pain or discomfort level rely on the patient accurately describing their condition. It often takes some time for a doctor or other mental health professional to tell the difference between what an 8 feels like for one patient and what an 8 on the discomfort scale feels like to another person. The scales can be inaccurate because of how people are naturally and can have nothing to do with lying or deception to account for the differences.


Why Do Doctors Ask So Many Questions When Treating People with Mental Health Disorders?

Not only is it subjective, the human element often comes into play. Some people are embarrassed by their disorder and will lie to get out of treatment for reasons that vary from a dislike of their doctor to people who cannot justify the cost of treatment to themselves. Some people will lie about how they are responding to medication and other therapies because they don’t want to make anyone feel bad or like they are not doing a good job.


What Does Med Compliant Mean?

Some people will not take their medication for various reasons. If you stop taking your medication for any reason, you are considered non-compliant. Medication (also known as “meds”) compliant has nothing to do with whether these medications are properly treating your symptoms. It simply means that you are regularly taking your prescribed medication in the right way.


Why Are Some People Not Med Compliant?

The reasons someone might not be med compliant ranges from the belief that the medication is not doing enough to help them to simply not wanting to take it. It is important to remember that most psychiatric medications 4-6 weeks to either start working or for them to start working to their fullest extent. For other people, the medication might start working almost immediately. It is important to not measure someone’s progress against your own. Everyone is different and the medications that work for one person might not work for another.


What is Anxiety?

There are several types of anxiety. Each needs a different approach to treatment. Here are a few of the most common types of anxiety disorders:

  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Panic Disorder

There is no short way to explain these conditions. Full bullet points might cause someone to miss the signs of their disorder because they might have symptoms that are not listed in the summary. We have linked a few websites on the bottom of this page under ‘references’  to articles devoted to anxiety so that you have a starting place in your research.


How Soon Can I Get Over My Addiction?

There is no quick fix to addiction and the anxiety that caused it. At DreamLife Recovery, we want to help you soothe your pain and become healthy. Our state of the art facility offers therapies like yoga, equine therapy, a planned diet, and much more. We will also keep you safe. It is impossible to access alcohol and other drugs while in our residential treatment center. For some people, intense treatment might take months. For other people, it might take up to a year. For anyone, the road to addiction recovery is a constant one. The same is true for treatment for anxiety.

In the process of healing for both anxiety and addiction, you must see doctors and therapists, as well as seek a support group of people with people who are on the same journey as you. After your treatment, we will refer you to a group like this in your area. When you are ready to get help, please contact us Or Call us at:  (844) 402-3592

Article Reviewed by Lidice Morales

Lidice MoralesLidice Morales, an honors graduate from the Kaiser University, has made a name for herself as the Director of Nursing at several behavioral health facilities and as the Director of Operations for Detox MD. Now she is the VP of Operations at DreamLife Recovery. She strives for better patient care through constant self-improvement and furthering her education. Her steadfast work ethic and passion in the field has remained the most important aspect of her professional career; showing dedication to not only the acquisition of new knowledge, but also its mastery. Lidice believes that a professional work atmosphere fosters cohesion and malleability amongst herself and her coworkers; thereby increasing both the level of patient care and quality of life.

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