Many people who go to rehab for alcoholism also suffer from some form of anxiety. It is estimated that up to 20% of people who suffer from alcohol abuse also have anxiety. With this close link between anxiety and alcoholism, it is important to know the warning signs, and what to do if you are suffering from either. The good news is that with the right steps both conditions are treatable, and if you have them both you can continue to live a normal, happy, and healthy life.
The Link Between Anxiety and Alcoholism
People with anxiety can suffer from life-altering symptoms. People unfamiliar with anxiety often mistake the condition with being nervous or afraid of a situation. However, it’s not that simple. If you suffer from anxiety, you know the symptoms can be crippling. Different forms of anxiety exist, such as social anxiety, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety. Symptoms can range from manageable to severe enough to interrupt daily life. Some people aren’t even able to keep up with regular life activities and routines because of their anxiety symptoms.
Unfortunately, many of these people turn to alcoholism to cope. For people with social anxiety, what starts off as a few drinks as a social lubricant often easily slips into a full-blown alcohol dependency. If you suffer from social anxiety, drinking while going out is a way of self-medicating. Sure, it is socially acceptable to have a few drinks at almost any gathering, but the link between anxiety and alcoholism is so strong that people shouldn’t reach for a drink if they tend to suffer from anxiety.
Generalized anxiety can lead to a person drinking at inappropriate times such as at work or school. Temporarily, alcohol can have the same effects as certain mood-stabilizing drugs. Again, this is ultimately just a way for people to self-medicate, and it can be dangerous. In fact, long-term alcohol use makes anxiety worse, and it also brings with it a host of other problems.
Alcohol abuse can cause:
- Worsening anxiety
- Problems with the law
- Family issues
- Loss of relationships
- Poor performance at work or school
- Health problems like heart trouble and liver disease
Anxiety and Alcoholism Can Be Treated
If you have found yourself deep down a hole of anxiety and alcoholism, the good news is that help exists. Many people have overcome both issues and have gone on to lead healthy, happy lives free of both anxiety and alcohol. However, there is no doubt that achieving this will take some work.
The first step is to get professional help. Many people try to wean themselves off of alcohol by themselves, but this is rarely successful. Alcohol withdrawal commonly causes an increase in anxiety-related symptoms. So, if you suffer from anxiety in the first place, you will likely have your anxiety symptoms worsened for a period of time after your last drink. This will make it very difficult for you to stay away from drinking on your own, because of the mistaken belief that alcohol will get rid of your symptoms. It may work temporarily, but the cycle will only continue.
Going through detox under medical supervision is the best thing you can do. Doctors can provide medication to help ease your symptoms and closely monitor you for any signs of a medical issue. You will also have doctors and counselors on-hand to speak to whenever you need them. It is the safest possible environment for you to be in while detoxing.
Your anxiety must be treated professionally in order to lessen your chance of alcohol relapse. Since anxiety and alcoholism go hand-in-hand, if you lessen the symptoms of your anxiety, you will be less likely to pick up a drink. There are plenty of medications available and lifestyle changes you can make to help reduce or completely get rid of anxiety. Working with a doctor to figure out the best option for you is the way to go.
Once you have your anxiety under control, it will be much easier to stay away from alcohol. In fact, it will be a necessity while you are on anti-anxiety medication. Working with a medical professional and having steady support to help prevent you from drinking will give you a great chance at living a happy, healthy, and sober life for years to come! If you need help dealing with an alcohol and anxiety problem, call Willow Place for Women at 1-888-651-4212 for information on our dual diagnosis programs.