Everyone experiences anxiety at one point or another. Anxiety is a normal part of life. However, there are limits to the amount of stress one can handle. When a person is struggling with addiction, anxiety can play a significant role in whether or not recovery is successful. When you are in recovery, it’s essential to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of an anxiety disorder to make sure stress and anxiety don’t trigger a relapse.
A Deeper Look at Anxiety Disorders
According to MedlinePlus, “anxiety is a feeling of fear, dread, and uneasiness.” When feelings of anxiety don’t go away and worsen over time, an individual may be struggling with an anxiety disorder. There are different types of anxiety disorders, including:
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
- Phobia-related disorders
Symptoms of each anxiety disorder will differ and can interfere with work, school, and relationships.
The Connection Between Anxiety and Addiction
Anxiety and addiction have a cyclical effect on one another. While anxiety symptoms can be significant relapse triggers, using substances can also heighten anxiety symptoms. Often, people become addicted at first by attempting to use substances to quell anxiety symptoms, and in turn, that substance use leads to heightened feelings of anxiety.
For this reason, people who suffer from both addiction and anxiety disorders are more susceptible to adopting habits of using substances to self-medicate. As a result, they make their anxiety symptoms worse, requiring the person to then use more substances in an attempt to alleviate their symptoms.
In addition, symptoms of anxiety can cause people to isolate themselves from others, and social isolation can also lead to relapse. This is just one risk factor of living with both an anxiety disorder and addiction.
What Is Relapse?
Relapse happens when someone who is suffering from a disease returns to a former state after undergoing temporary improvements. In the case of addiction, relapse occurs when someone who has stopped using drugs or alcohol returns to substance use. Drug and alcohol relapses are among the most challenging and most common roadblocks that people in recovery will ever have to face.
It’s important to note that if a relapse occurs, it doesn’t mean that the person who relapsed or the treatment has failed. It simply means that the treatment needs to be continued or modified to meet that person’s changing needs. In order to know when an adjustment in care is needed, it’s essential to be able to recognize the warning signs of a potential relapse.
Anxiety and Relapse
It’s essential to recognize how anxiety can trigger relapse to get the best-personalized care possible, tailored to individual needs. Some common anxiety triggers that can lead to relapse are health problems, financial struggles, legal issues, relationship conflicts, and the challenges of everyday life, like having to perform to your best ability at work every day. Those in recovery can benefit from considering high-stress situations to be a precursor to potential relapse.
Recognizing the Warning Signs of Relapse
When it comes down to it, identifying relapse warning signs and taking action before these symptoms worsen is your best chance at avoiding a relapse. Anxiety and stress can both be clear relapse warning signs, but how do we recognize when our anxiety becomes so bad that it may cause a relapse? In order to help identify warning signs that may arise in recovery due to anxiety, it’s essential to understand what these signs may look like.
Within the wide variety of anxiety disorders, there are several shared telltale signs that someone may be pushed to the brink of a relapse. When someone is experiencing addiction and anxiety symptoms, they are often unable to take care of responsibilities. Sometimes this looks like being unable to perform at work or make it to the grocery store, and sometimes it can be as debilitating as not being able to take a shower. If you find yourself slipping back into old patterns, it’s crucial to seek alternate or additional treatment.
In addition to a lack of responsibility, those battling both anxiety and addiction at once are likely to have cravings for a substance that go so far as to become a priority over hobbies and leisure activities. With these warning signs also comes increased interpersonal issues and an obscured view of the self. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you will likely require dual diagnosis treatment to treat both disorders and maintain sobriety.
Getting Treatment for Addiction and Anxiety
Because high-anxiety situations and life circumstances make individuals more vulnerable to substance use and make those battling addiction hyper-sensitive to anxiety symptoms, it is crucial for those struggling to look out for the warning signs previously discussed to avoid falling into this vicious cycle. There are treatment programs out there that can treat both simultaneously to give you the best chance at a lasting recovery.
Anxiety is one of the most common causes of substance use relapse because of the powerful effects it has on the brain. Luckily, both addiction and anxiety are treatable. If you or a loved one is using substances to quell symptoms of anxiety or are experiencing intense symptoms of anxiety due to substance abuse, it may be time to seek treatment. At Bella Monte Recovery Center in Desert Hot Springs, California, we have a strong team comprised of clinicians, case managers, and other addiction professionals equipped to handle symptoms of both anxiety and addiction. At our facility, we will separate you from triggers you may have in your life and create an individualized treatment plan to confront any and all mental health issues you may be experiencing. We are here to provide you with the support you deserve. For more information on how to get your recovery journey started, call Bella Monte at (800) 974-1938 today.