Addiction and mental health are complex issues that often go hand in hand. Often, undiagnosed or untreated mental health conditions, such as anxiety, can lead to substance misuse which can ultimately result in addiction.
For those suffering from anxiety and addiction in California, an anxiety and addiction treatment program, like the one that we offer at Aton Center can allow you or a loved one to get the treatment you need to address both your mental health struggles and addiction at the same time.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a natural and adaptive response to stress or danger. It is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can vary in intensity and duration. While for most people anxiety is a perfectly normal and natural defense mechanism, for those suffering from anxiety disorder, these feelings are quite the opposite.
For those suffering from an anxiety disorder, these feelings of stress, anxiety, fear, and worry not only arise seemingly for no legitimate reason, they tend to last for long periods of time, often making it difficult for the person experiencing these feelings to go about their daily life. In extreme cases, someone with an anxiety disorder may find themselves completely debilitated and unable to perform even the most basic of daily tasks.
Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder
As we just touched on, someone with an anxiety disorder will experience a range of both emotional and physical symptoms that can make it difficult to go about their daily life.
Some common signs and symptoms of anxiety disorder include:
- Excessive worry
- Trouble sleeping
- Avoiding certain places or situations
- Difficulty concentrating
- Panic attacks
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Rapid heartbeat
- Stomach pain
- Erratic decision making
Types of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorder is an umbrella term used to describe any type of mental health condition that involves anxiety. However, there are a number of different types of anxiety disorders, each with its unique set of characteristics and symptoms.
Below are some common examples of different types of anxiety disorders:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Characterized by excessive worry and anxiety about everyday life events and situations for no specific reason.
- Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD): Involves an intense fear of social situations and interactions, often leading to avoidance of social gatherings. In some instances, someone with SAD may also suffer from another type of anxiety disorder such as panic disorder or agoraphobia.
- Panic Disorder: Marked by recurrent and unexpected panic attacks, along with the fear of having more attacks. These episodes are often overwhelming and can result in feelings of impending death. Someone with a panic disorder may experience unnerving side effects such as hyperventilation, chest pain, or a feeling of choking.
- Specific Phobias: An intense and irrational fear of a particular object or situation, such as flying or spiders. Someone with a specific phobia will often go out of their way to avoid the object of fear, even to their own detriment. Common phobias include claustrophobia and acrophobia.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Involves intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors (compulsions) aimed at reducing anxiety.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Occurs after experiencing a traumatic event and includes symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety.
Underlying Causes of Anxiety Disorders
Understanding the underlying causes of anxiety disorders can help when it comes to getting effective treatment.
Below are some common causes of anxiety disorders:
- Genetics: If you have a direct family member that suffers from a mental health condition, such as an anxiety disorder, you are more likely to suffer from an anxiety disorder as well.
- Brain Chemistry: Imbalances in brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) can contribute to anxiety disorders. This may occur as a result of substance misuse or addiction.
- Trauma: Experiencing a traumatic event, such as physical or sexual abuse, a natural disaster, or combat, can trigger the development of anxiety disorders like PTSD.
- Stressful Life Events: Major life changes, such as divorce, loss of a loved one, job loss, or financial difficulties, can lead to heightened anxiety.
- Chronic Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and thyroid disorders, can be associated with increased anxiety.
- Substance Misuse: The use of alcohol, drugs, or other substances can worsen or trigger anxiety disorders, creating a cycle of addiction and anxiety.
- Personality Factors: Certain personality traits, such as perfectionism, high sensitivity, or a history of being overly self-critical, can contribute to the development of anxiety disorders.
- Environmental Factors: Growing up in a chaotic or stressful environment, exposure to violence or abuse, and a lack of emotional support can increase the risk of anxiety disorders.
- Other Mental Health Conditions: Many mental health conditions have overlapping symptoms or side effects. This can result in someone suffering from more than one mental health condition. For example, someone suffering from depression is also likely to suffer from an anxiety disorder.
What is the Connection Between Mental Health and Addiction?
As we touched on in the introduction, mental health and addiction often go hand-in-hand. Someone struggling with an undiagnosed or untreated mental health condition may turn to drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication.
In many situations, it may even appear to the person that their drug or alcohol use is helping their mental health condition and making them feel better. While this may even be the case in short bursts, long term, using drugs and alcohol as a form of self-medication can not only lead to substance misuse and addiction, but it can make the mental health condition worse and even lead to the development of additional mental health issues.
Anxiety and Addiction
An example of this is anxiety and addiction. While it is not uncommon for those suffering from anxiety disorder to turn to substances of abuse as a way to self-medicate and alleviate some of the symptoms of their condition, the connection between anxiety and addiction can go the other way as well.
Someone battling substance abuse and addiction may find themselves experiencing symptoms associated with an anxiety disorder as a result of their addiction. When this happens, they may find themselves taking more and more of the substance in order to alleviate these new symptoms, thus continuing the cycle of dependency and addiction.
Treatment For Co-Occurring Disorders
When someone is suffering from addiction as well as a mental health condition, such as anxiety, it is known as a co-occurring disorder. It is important that co-occurring disorders be treated at the same time using dual diagnosis treatment. Treating one condition without treating the other can not only make treatment less effective but it can also increase the chances of a relapse.
At the Aton Center, we understand the importance of treating co-occurring disorders, such as anxiety and addiction at the same time. That’s why we offer a number of dual-diagnosis treatment programs in order to help address mental health conditions and substance misuse at the same time.
Our approach to co-occurring disorders and dual diagnosis treatment is extensive and involves the following steps:
We begin with a thorough assessment to understand the unique needs of each individual. This assessment includes evaluating the severity of anxiety, addiction, and any other co-occurring mental health issues.
Our program integrates evidence-based therapies for anxiety and addiction including:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical-behavior therapy (DBT)
- Medication management
We also offer a number of experiential and holistic therapies such as:
- Breathing and Stress Reduction
- Meditation and Mindfulness
- Personal Training
- Guided Imagery
AToN Center provides a supportive and safe environment for individuals to explore the root causes of their anxiety and addiction. Our experienced staff understands the challenges of dual diagnosis and provides guidance every step of the way.
We equip individuals with the skills and strategies needed to prevent relapse and maintain long-term recovery. This includes developing healthy coping mechanisms and building a strong support network.
Get Help in AToN Center’s Anxiety and Addiction Treatment Program
At the AToN Center, we understand the importance of getting the help that you need to address both anxiety and addiction. We also understand, that as a business professional, you need access to certain services and amenities. That’s why, in addition to our residential treatment program, we also offer detox services meaning that you can come to the AToN Center for the entire treatment process.
If you or a loved one is suffering from anxiety and addiction and could benefit from our unique, evidence-based anxiety and addiction treatment program, contact us today. Remember, healing is possible, and we are here to support you every step of the way. Your journey to a healthier, happier life begins here.