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Almost everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. It can be triggered by challenges at work, difficulties in relationships or any kind of stress. Interestingly, that many people do not always recognize that they feel anxious until they feel physical symptoms of it. As anxiety causes distressing feelings and strong negative emotions, an individual seeks for relief. Some people struggling with anxiety choose substances to get rid of negative emotions.

Drugs and alcohol are viewed to be the fastest and easiest way to feel better. Taking addictive substances is seen as a remedy against emotional discomfort. But it is not the best way to treat anxiety as continuous substance abuse develops addiction. Typically, addicts who struggle with anxiety are reluctant to start substance treatment. It happens because they are afraid that their anxiety will not be cured when they heal their addiction. But it is not really true. Any kind of addiction treatment goes hand in hand with addressing other mental problems. Healthcare workers at the recovery center will help with quitting drinking or taking substances as well as treating anxiety. At a rehab you will be introduced plenty of ways to beat anxiety without  taking substances. There are also numerous ways to stop drinking or taking drugs without experiencing intense distressing feelings. 

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a complex psychological phenomenon that involves thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Thoughts perpetuate feelings that trigger certain behavioral response. As a rule, anxious people share four common characteristics such as the excessive need for control and approval, perfectionism and ignoring psychological and physical signs of stress. These characteristics are a part of an individual's belief system that perpetuates anxiety. Their belief system is reflected in thoughts about changing the chain of events that happened in the past.

For people who have anxiety issues it is typical to think with statements like I should have or I could have done something. Another type of thoughts caused by anxiety are thoughts based on the events in the future. Obsessions about things that may happen one day make an individual worry and create emotional tension. Such thinking patterns increase the symptoms of anxiety and contribute to the addict's desire to get rid of them with the help of substance use.

Anxiety and Addiction

Anxiety is a part of everyday life for most people. We normally feel anxious when faced with a stressful situation or a difficult task. However, some individuals tend to feel anxious on a regular basis. In this case, doctors say that they have an anxiety disorder that has a negative impact on daily performance at work or at home. Anxiety disorder typically leads to damaged relationships and decreases overall well-being. Its physical symptoms include fatigue, problems with concentration, tensions in muscles and erratic sleep patterns.

Anxiety also may cause panic attacks which appear suddenly and are characterized by high intensity. Among the symptoms of panic attacks are loss of control, strong fear and worrying about future attacks. Another type of anxiety problem is triggered by social situations. In this case, an individual feels extremely embarrassed, has difficulties talking to others and worries excessively. Moreover, one may have nausea and tremble when surrounded by others.

Summing up, anxiety has a strong impact on the body and mind. It manifests in both physical and psychological way. But still it is not always recognizable and as a result may be untreated.

Anxiety and Alcohol

The ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America) argues that nearly 20 percent of people struggling with social anxiety are dependent on alcohol or drugs. It means that to deal with anxiety issues some people resort to alcohol or drugs. As alcohol is a depressant, people struggling with anxious feelings use it in order to relieve psychological tension and unwind. However, it is not a good strategy in terms of mental health. Prolonged drinking or drug intake can lead to serious addiction in addition to anxiety problems. So this so called remedy just adds mental issues to initial disorder. Consequently, individuals get even more anxious as they cannot stop drinking alcohol or taking substances. 

Moreover, a research conducted by the University of North Carolina School of Medicine points out that excessive alcohol consumption can rewire the brain. Alterations in the brain make an individual even more susceptible to the development of anxiety. Moreover, the study shows that there is a relation between alcohol intake and anxiety on a molecular level which makes it even more difficult to quit drinking.

Exercises Is a Good Alternative

There are effective self-help techniques that help to manage anxiety. For example, people tend to anxiety must always remember to stay in the present instead of getting stuck in the thought about the past or future. It is also crucial to learn what you can control and what things cannot be over your control. Individuals whose typical reaction is anxiety need to learn how to recognize stress on time and practice relaxation exercises. In addition, those who often experience anxiety should be less critical to themselves and remember that it is impossible to avoid mistakes at all. 

Anxiety and Addiction Treatment

As noted above, addicts usually use substances to escape from feeling anxious. But taking addictive substances only mask anxiety for a short period of time preventing an individual from proper psychological treatment.Obviously, it creates even more problems with mental health and does not contribute to the overall well-being. Addiction and anxiety must be treated as a dual diagnosis. Treatment programs for individuals with dual diagnosis address both mental disorders simultaneously.

Treatment of addiction must be conducted by doctors and therapists of different disciplines to provide a patient with better support through the whole process. During detox stage of addiction treatment an addict inevitably experiences an increased amount of anxiety which often leads to relapse. But if one undergoes treatment under the supervision of professionals the risk of relapse gets significantly lower. So the best treatment is the one when anxiety and withdrawal symptoms are treated at the same time by the same team of healthcare workers.