Anxiety disorders are some of the most common mental health problems. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: “Nearly 40 million people in the United States (18%) experience an anxiety disorder in any given year.”1

Anxiety disorders can begin at any age. They can stem from short-term concerns or lifelong issues. They are influenced by genetics, environment and biology. They can be caused by substance use and abuse.

Anxious man at work

When Is Anxiety a Problem?

Everyone experiences anxiety at some point in their life. For some, these feelings become a more serious concern. Worry, fear and nervousness get in the way of everyday life. They keep someone from fully enjoying and participating in life. They impact physical health and disrupt relationships. They may contribute to substance abuse or other mental health issues. Substance-induced anxiety disorders are no less serious than any other form of anxiety. Mental health and addiction problems commonly co-occur. This makes treatment more complex but certainly still more than possible. When substances are causing anxiety, ending drug use can end anxiety symptoms. If anxiety issues existed before addicted or developed along with addiction, integrated treatment can be the solution.

Anxiety and Addiction

Many drugs cause anxiety symptoms. Prescription medications, alcohol, marijuana and more can create or worsen feelings of worry or paranoia. This is more likely to happen for people with a personal or family history of mental illness. It may simply be a symptom of substance abuse, or it may reveal an underlying concern. Either way, unwanted mental health symptoms can lead to self-medication, increased drug use and then increased anxiety symptoms. As the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) explains, “The symptoms of one disorder can make the symptoms another worse; an anxiety disorder may lead to using alcohol or other substances to self-medicate or alleviate anxiety symptoms.”2 This cycle of using the substances that worsen a problem to mask a problem is common. The ADAA goes further: “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.” Anxiety and substance use are closely linked. Escalating mental health issues and drug use result in addiction.

What Can You Do About Anxiety and Addiction?

Treatment for co-occurring mental health and addiction issues exists. It exists, and it is effective. Getting a professional assessment leads to getting the right treatment. When anxiety issues and addiction occur at the same time, integrated treatment is typically the best choice. Social Work in Public Health explains, “Integrated treatment refers to the focus of treatment on two or more conditions and to the use of multiple treatments such as the combination of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy. Integrated treatment for comorbidity has been found to be consistently superior compared to treatment of individual disorders with separate treatment plans.”3 Integrated treatment addresses immediate, pressing health concerns and their underlying causes and consequences. It leads to long-term healing rather than short-term relief followed by relapse.

Finding Treatment

At Black Bear Lodge, we assess offer comprehensive assessments from the very start. We get to know you, your situation and the specific, personalized care you need. We offer integrated treatment programs that address substance use and mental health issues at the same time. We adjust plans as your recovery progresses and your needs change. We are here for you from the very beginning to long after treatment ends. Call today to learn more about what we offer. Learn how we can help you or a loved one find physical, psychological and emotional health.

Mental Disorders.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 27 Oct. 2015. Accessed 6 Oct. 2017.

Substance Use Disorders.” The Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Accessed 6 Oct. 2017.

Kelly, Thomas, and Daley, Dennis. “Integrated Treatment of Substance Use and Psychiatric Disorders.” Social Work in Public Health. 2013. Accessed 6 Oct. 2017.