A Better Today

Anxiety Disorders &
Dual Diagnosis

Anxiety Disorders and Substance Abuse Treatment: Getting to the Root of Your Addiction with A Better Today

A Better Today understands the relationship between anxiety and substance abuse. We realize that anxiety disorders often go unnoticed and untreated, causing some to self-medicate with whatever makes feels safe and content. It is unfortunate that what makes people feel good when relieving anxiety symptoms is Alcohol and drugs.

Anxiety disorders are one of the most commonly diagnosed disorders when an individual seeks treatment for an addiction. If someone feels extreme anxiety at a young age, they may abuse Alcohol to feel like they fit in. If someone has trauma related issues and experience anxiety due to those thoughts, drugs and Alcohol are often abused to numb those thoughts.

This causal relationship goes both ways and each disorder can worsen the symptoms of each other. When both anxiety and substance use disorders occur simultaneously in a person, the terms that are used to identify this issue are dual-diagnosis or co-occurring disorders.

The presence of two or more mental health issues causes an exponentially more complicated treatment regimen to be required. Additionally, both, or all disorders must be treated simultaneously in order for any improvement to be made.

For more information on how important it is to get quality treatment for co-occurring disorders and drug & Alcohol treatment check out our video.

Empowering Clients with Knowledge

Ron Fritz is a co-occurring disorder therapist that understands how important saving lives and healing families is to A Better Today. When it comes to providing quality care, educating parents and clients about dual diagnosis and substance abuse is his passion 

22% of mental health cases also have substance use disorders associated, or contributing, to the severity of the problem.

Anxiety Disorders vs Healthy Anxiety

Anxiety is an experience that everyone has from time to time. The sensation that comes with anxiety plays a crucial role in the survival of species, including humans. Many people acknowledge anxiety as being beneficial when experienced during a test or activities that requires a great deal of energy and focus.

Anxiety disorders focus on the unhealthy aspects of the symptoms and how they negatively impact your life. A person may faint or lose all control at the sight of a particular object or situation – which might suggest a phobia. The presence of a crowd could also cause a person to become frantic and fight for their life – another phobia, or perhaps social anxiety.

There are a variety of different anxiety disorders recognized by the medical community, researchers, including the National Institute of Health. Some disorders have been classified as an anxiety disorder, only to be re-classified in its own or another category within  The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which defines all recognized and  acknowledged mental illnesses .

Some people experience a constant and disturbing amount of anxiety, which suggests the generalized anxiety disorder. A person may also experience a sudden and alarming amount of fear, coupled with symptoms that might be confused with a heart attack – which might suggest panic disorder.

Anxiety disorders denote a severe disturbance to functioning and quality of life. These symptoms can be mild to severe. When anxiety disorders negatively impact the quality of life and they go untreated, those who struggle will often self-medicate to cope with the symptoms.

Dual-Diagnosis: Anxiety and Substance Abuse Addiction

The problem with prescribing addiction medication to people with a mental health condition, such as an anxiety disorder ,is that they are already at a higher risk of developing a substance use disorder. Handing people at risk a long-term prescription for an addictive medication is just asking for trouble, which is why A Better Today is comprised of master level therapists, registered nurses, and doctors experienced with addiction and recovery.

Addiction and substance abuse  can cause anxiety as well. The reason why may seem perplexing to those who do not suffer from either disease; when you consider that people who suffer from both addiction and anxiety constantly feel as though their life is in danger, it may be easier to understand why a quick-fixing, mood-enhancing and calming substance has a dangerous amount of allure.

As a person develops a dependence on Benzodiazepines, the thought of removing the substance from the picture becomes an increasingly devastating proposal. Benzos affect the brain relatively similarly to opiates, according to the National Institute of Health. And even if the drug supply is not threatened, the dependence on such a short-acting substance is anxiety-provoking.

Will the pill wear off before I get out of that meeting? I only have one left for the day and it’s already 2pm and my schedule is packed with presentations and social events? Questions like these running through one’s mind are certainly far from calming or grounding.

It should be noted that once cycle of using has been stopped by an admission into an addiction treatment center, both the anxiety and addiction will be far from gone. Both disorders play on each other and potentially worsen the overall situation.

If the addiction is treated without targeting the anxiety disorder, the likelihood of remaining sober long-term is lessened. The opposite is also true: the presence of an untreated anxiety disorder can create a high level of distress and strain that greatly reduces one’s chance of a long and happy life of sobriety.

A Better Today is well-versed in the needs of people with dual-diagnosis. We provide tailored treatment programs to ensure that each person gets what he or she needs to overcome all aspects of addiction.

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A Better Today’s approach to drug and Alcohol treatment utilizes masters level therapists to properly diagnosis for co-occurring disorders like anxiety, severe depression and/or bipolar disorders.

Treatment Options for Anxiety Disorders in Rehab

There are different  schools of thought regarding the best way to treat anxiety disorders. Essentially, there is behavioral therapy, drug therapy and a combination of these two options that are available to most people. Some other treatments are also possible, but may not be recommended due to a variety of issues including accessibility.

Regardless of what is considered most beneficial, many people are constrained by what they are able to do to treat their anxiety disorder. Many insurance plans have a maximum number of therapy sessions they will cover within a span of time. Other, more rare treatments, may only be available in medical centers, which tend to exist in large metropolitan areas.

Most people who experience the symptoms of an anxiety disorder are plagued such that medication is often the go-to treatment. The need for relief from symptoms certainly is understandable, however drug therapy is not meant to be a long-term treatment.

Benzodiazepines, which are the most common and effective anti-anxiety medication, are extremely addictive and dangerous. Withdrawal from these prescription drugs is potentially fatal, but incredibly traumatic nevertheless. Combining this medication with a host of over-the-counter drugs, Alcohol and other substances can cause serious injury and death as well.

Psychotherapy is the only known long-term solution to anxiety disorders. Short-term and sporadic use of Benzodiazepines can help supplement and promote healing and recovery, but only if used under the continuous care of a therapist and doctor.

Medication Options for Anxiety Disorders While in Drug & Alcohol Treatment

There are several medications that can be used to treat anxiety disorders. The most common and safest medication treatment options are anti-depressants. Others, including beta-blockers and Benzodiazepines, are also used.

Antidepressants are one of the best options for drug-therapy treatment of anxiety disorders. These drugs are relatively safe and not known for causing addiction issues. Given their generally accessibility and low-risk nature, many doctors prefer to rely most heavily on these prescription medications.

Benzodiazepines specifically target anxiety, with many people feeling that these drugs are safe if taken sporadically. Others argue that these drugs, combined with the defined mental illness they are treating, put people at great risk of developing a substance use disorder. They are fast acting and do not teach people how to cope with anxiety symptoms in a healthy way. In short, they are a quick-fix with a host of long-term problems.

The use of Benzodiazepines is not innately bad; however, these medications are some of the most commonly abused substances. Many people who take drugs, like Valium, Klonopin, and Xanax, have been taking them for an extended period and have not tried other treatment methods to remove the need for or dependence on prescription medication.

Knowledge Empowers Long-lasting Recovery

Learn about the addicted brain and find confidence that you can manage your addiction once you embrace living in recovery.

Only 14% of individuals with a co-occurring disorder receive treatment addressing both their substance abuse and mental health issues.

Potential Problems with Anxiety Medications like Benzodiazepines

These drugs have a way of causing people to perpetuate, even exacerbate their symptoms in order to get more drugs. This may be best described as lying for prescription drugs, without the realization that a lie is being told.

Some people quickly become addicted to these drugs. Prescription drug addiction may manifest with the feeling that living without the drug is impossible, as well as the perpetual need for more, which increases steadily over time.

Benzodiazepines are so addictive and easily accessible that it is no wonder why so many people abuse them. Since their debut in the 1960s, Benzodiazepines have gone from multi-purpose drug to a reluctantly prescribed prescription as new information and statistics arise noting their high potential for causing dependence and serious consequences.

The drugs themselves can also worsen and perpetuate the psychological aspect of addiction. The more a person becomes convinced that the only way to handle certain symptoms, stressors and situations is through the use of medication, the more that person will feel and believe in its necessity.

Aftercare for Co-occurring Disorder: Dual Recovery Anonymous

Upon graduating treatment, aftercare is a vital component that paves the way for successful recovery. Individuals with co-occurring disorders have their own set of unique obstacles to overcome and have a great need for support and understanding. Unfortunately, individuals with co-occurring disorders may have the tendency to isolate due to the stigma that comes with not one, but both disorders. Individuals with co-occurring disorders should not navigate their aftercare alone. It is important to find a positive, compassionate and stigma-free environment that offers continuous support in recovery.

Dual Recovery Anonymous is a support group that can be a great resource for maintaining your sobriety and managing your co-occurring disorder. DRA is a recovery group that offers support for not just substance abuse, but other emotional or psychiatric co-occurring disorders that an individual may be diagnosed with. DRA is a program that is built upon the same twelve steps and twelve traditions found in essential twelve step programs. DRA meetings can provide a support network where an individual can find acceptance, knowledge, and support in their recovery journey.

In DRA meetings, individuals are free to share about their co-occurring disorder and the individual struggles they face on a day to day basis. The only requirements for membership is the desire to be drug-free and a desire to manage emotional or psychiatric illnesses in a healthy and constructive way. DRA acknowledges that individuals face co-occurring disorders through no fault of their own. They ultimately aim to support each other in working towards a better physical, psychological, social and spiritual life.

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