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When someone struggles with chronic addiction, co-occurring mental health struggles often occur. One does not need to have a previously diagnosed mental health condition to experience new or worsening mental health symptoms stemming from ongoing drug or alcohol abuse. Anxiety and depression are two common mental health struggles that often co-occur with addiction. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that approximately 20% of those who meet the diagnostic criteria for an alcohol or substance use disorder also have an anxiety or related mood disorder. While little research proves which condition “comes first,” having both can be a significant struggle. Inevitably the symptoms of one disorder can make the symptoms of the other worse. Additionally, struggles related to anxiety often lead to self-medication using drugs or alcohol, which can lead to worsening addiction. Without support and professional dual diagnosis treatment, this vicious circle can seem impossible to overcome

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a natural human emotion. It is how the brain reacts to a stressful situation or event. It also helps to warn us of potential danger. It is normal to feel anxiety when making an important decision or facing a significant problem. However, chronic or consistent anxiety may be a sign of something more significant. Anxiety or anxiety disorders differ from everyday anxiety. An anxiety disorder is a mental illness characterized by overwhelming and consistent feelings of fear and stress. It can lead those who struggle with it to intentionally avoid situations they fear may lead to these emotions. This may mean avoiding going to family events, work, or immersing themselves in social situations, which can trigger their symptoms. The diagnostic criteria for an anxiety disorder require that these symptoms last for at least six months or more.

What Is Addiction Recovery?

Addiction is a disease that presents differently from person to person and from substance to substance. Consequently, there is no one set definition of addiction recovery. Generally, someone who has successfully overcome their dependency on drugs or alcohol is considered to be “in recovery.” However, there is more to lasting recovery than simply maintaining sobriety.  

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration defines four characteristics or dimensions that support lasting recovery. These include health, home, purpose, and community. Maintaining lasting recovery requires overcoming one’s addiction or symptoms and continuing to make healthy choices that support ongoing physical and emotional health. Additionally, it is vital to have a safe and stable home environment. Maintaining lasting sobriety also requires purpose. It is important to participate in meaningful day-to-day activities that allow you to be an active part of society. Finally, it is important to have a community (relationships) of sober peers or a sober network that helps provide ongoing support and friendship as you continue to work towards lasting sobriety. Many addiction treatment programs encourage participation in aftercare or peer support groups once, and initial addiction treatment program ends. This can help provide contacts within the sober community and assist with maintaining lasting friendships with others who share similar sobriety goals.

How To Manage Anxiety and Addiction Recovery

Attaining sobriety as part of an addiction treatment program will not help to alleviate anxiety symptoms. Therefore, it is vital to treat both together to lessen the chances of relapse after treatment is completed. Someone who struggles with anxiety and a substance use disorder is at an increased risk for relapse if only one condition is addressed during treatment. As part of a comprehensive therapy program, evidence-based treatment models such as cognitive behavioral therapy will help address healthy and safer ways to manage triggers and provide healthier coping mechanisms to manage anxiety symptoms. 

The most effective way to manage anxiety and addiction during recovery is to ensure your comprehensive treatment program addresses both issues simultaneously. At Concise Recovery, our treatment team will work with you to design A treatment plan that addresses the root causes of your addiction and helps you better manage your symptoms as you progress through treatment that recovery. To learn more about our programs and how we can help you overcome anxiety and addiction, contact our admissions team today.