Can Anxiety Cause Alcoholism?

Anxiety is a crippling mental disorder that is common in the United States. According to data provided by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million Americans aged 18 years and older experience anxiety. While anxiety is highly treatable, many people don’t seek treatment. Instead of seeking professional help, people suffering from anxiety often turn to substances such as alcohol to cope with their feelings. While alcohol may provide temporary relief, it is a short-term solution. Without professional intervention, anxiety will grow worse over time—and people may develop a dependence on alcohol.

This article will answer the question, can anxiety cause alcoholism? We will further define anxiety and its impacts on behavior. Additionally, you will learn more about the connection between alcohol abuse and anxiety. Most importantly, you will learn where you can find treatment for both anxiety and alcoholism. Are you struggling with alcoholism and anxiety and need help? Call Next Wind Recovery toll-free today and learn more about our evidence-based addiction treatment programs in New Jersey.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is defined as strong feelings of fear, dread, and uneasiness. When you experience anxiety, you may sweat, feel restless and tense, and you may have a rapid heartbeat. More often than not, anxiety is the result of stresses in your environment, such as test taking, making an important decision, or getting stuck in rush hour traffic. In most cases, anxiety subsides when the stress subsides. However, there are those who experience anxiety that lingers long after the threat dissipates.

In these cases, the panic and anxiety they feel impact how they live their daily lives. When anxiety reaches these levels, people may experience an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders rule people’s lives, and they may start avoiding the people and places that may trigger their anxious feelings. In many cases, people with anxiety disorders fear people, places, and objects which don’t pose a threat.

How Does Anxiety Impact Behavior?

Anxiety impacts behavior in a variety of ways because there are several types of disorders that fall under the anxiety umbrella. Depending on the specific disorder, people can experience different behaviors. For example, For example, people who experience generalized anxiety disorder may experience these symptoms:

  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleep problems
  • Irritability

On the other hand, those with panic disorder may experience the following:

  • Pounding or racing heart
  • Profuse sweating
  • Chest pain
  • Feelings of being out of control

People with social anxiety disorder may display the following symptoms:

  • Stomach aches and body pain
  • Rigid body posture or speaking with a timid voice
  • Difficulty making eye contact or being around people they don’t know
  • Intense feelings of self-consciousness
  • Intense fear that people will judge them negatively

Can Anxiety Cause Addiction?

Can anxiety cause addiction? Definitely.

As stated before, anxiety is a condition that is highly treatable with professional help. However, many people are hesitant or don’t seek treatment due to the stigma surrounding mental illness. For many who suffer, seeking help for their anxiety makes them feel “broken” and not worthy of help. To deal with their feelings and emotions, they will turn to alcohol to cope. While alcohol can numb and mute those feelings, it is a blanket solution.

Without dealing with the underlying issues, the feelings of intense anxiety will return, and people will drink more alcohol as their tolerance increases. Not only does one’s anxiety grows worse, but people also develop an addiction to alcohol. Likewise, using alcohol can be a cause of anxiety. If an individual significantly curbs their intake or stops drinking altogether, it creates a wide range of withdrawal symptoms that can be uncomfortable and painful to endure. One common psychological withdrawal symptom is anxiety.

Depending on the amount of alcohol consumed, the frequency in which it is consumed, the quantity, and other underlying issues, the anxiety one feels can be unbearable and difficult to shake. Since brain chemistry is significantly altered due to chronic alcohol misuse, it is possible for people to develop substance-induced anxiety disorders.

How to Treat Anxiety and Alcohol Use Disorders

For those who experience anxiety and alcoholism, there are many rehabs offering dual diagnosis treatment. In this specialized treatment program, mental health and addiction professionals work side by side to create an individualized treatment plan that addresses both alcohol abuse and anxiety. In cases where loved ones are resistant to treatment or are having great difficulty in a treatment program, programs centered on anxiety interventions for adults are extremely beneficial.

If you are dealing with an anxiety disorder and alcoholism, Next Wind Recovery can help. We are a top-tier New Jersey dual diagnosis treatment program featuring a dynamic fusion of addiction and mental health treatment. Our New Jersey outpatient treatment program is evidence-based and individually tailored to meet your specific needs. No matter the severity of your dual diagnosis, the experienced professionals at Next Wind Recovery will give you the tools and support you need to rise above and reclaim your life.

Begin your transformation today and call Next Wind Recovery.

About the Author

Picture of Duane Anderson, CADC Intern

Duane Anderson, CADC Intern

Duane is a Primary Therapist at Next Wind Recovery.

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