What to Expect When Seeking Treatment for Anxiety and Addiction in California

treatment for anxiety and addiction
Published in Addiction Treatment

Over 18% of adults in the United States experience some form of anxiety, making anxiety disorders the most common type of mental illness in the country. While everyone experiences anxiety during high-stress times or while under pressure, anxiety disorders cause people significant distress in their daily lives, and the symptoms are far worse than what is experienced with normal feelings of anxiety.

In an attempt to cope with their persistent anxiety, which can cause physical and psychological symptoms, some people will use drugs and alcohol for relief. However, the relief that comes from substance abuse is only temporary, and self-medicating anxiety issues often results in a substance use disorder.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates that people with anxiety disorders are nearly twice as likely to abuse substances and struggle with addiction compared to the general population. Drug and alcohol abuse can worsen symptoms of anxiety in the long run as well as lead to the development of worsening psychiatric problems.

Anxiety and addiction have many overlapping symptoms and risk factors, so they can be treated simultaneously at a dual diagnosis treatment center. Learning about what to expect when seeking treatment for anxiety and addiction in California can help you prepare for treatment and make educated decisions about your care.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Anxiety and Addiction

Treatment begins with a comprehensive evaluation. Clients are thoroughly assessed by doctors as well as clinicians so the treatment team can develop a custom-tailored care plan. If you need detox, as most people do, you will begin your treatment under close medical supervision. You may be prescribed medications to alleviate your anxiety and be introduced to psychotherapy groups that can provide you with support.

After detoxing, you may notice an increase in your anxiety symptoms. This is normal, as most people experience heightened anxiety in the early days, weeks, and months of their recovery journey. Depending on your needs, you may be prescribed non-addictive anxiety medications such as SSRIs, tricyclic antidepressants, or beta-blockers.

Medications can alleviate anxiety symptoms, but they cannot cure anxiety or substance use disorder. Instead, dual diagnosis conditions are best treated with various psychotherapies and lifestyle changes. Dual diagnosis treatment centers offer integrated care combining medical treatment, behavioral therapy, and peer support.

Therapies for Anxiety and Addiction

Dual diagnosis rehab centers use a variety of evidence-based therapies to help clients overcome anxiety and addiction. Some therapies are behavioral or talk-based, while others are holistic or alternative therapies that focus on calming the mind.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – CBT helps clients identify negative or unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors so they can replace maladaptive coping skills with positive ones. When it comes to anxiety, CBT can help you identify the triggers and emotions behind your anxiety so you are more-self aware. Your therapist will also educate you on healthy coping strategies for anxiety.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – DBT is a type of CBT that is primarily used to treat suicidal or self-destructive behaviors, but can be helpful in treating a range of mental health conditions including anxiety. The goal of DBT is to promote emotional regulation and decrease conflict within relationships. If you have less conflict in your relationships and better control over your emotions, it will be easier to cope with anxiety without drugs or alcohol.
  • Mindfulness meditation – Mindfulness meditation is a holistic therapy that can promote self-awareness and emotional regulation. Mindful meditation involves bringing awareness to the present moment and your bodily sensations while focusing on your breathing. This type of meditation can reduce stress and anxiety while also helping you overcome cravings.
  • Yoga or exercise therapy – A great way to release anxiety is through physical movement or exercise. Many dual diagnosis treatment centers in California offer guided yoga sessions or specialized exercise therapy. These activities can naturally reduce the neurotransmitters in your brain that make you feel stressed or anxious while also improving your mood.

Ways to Cope With Anxiety Without Benzodiazepine Medications

Benzodiazepines are often prescribed to treat anxiety disorders, but these medications can be highly addictive and dangerous to take if you are in recovery. While there are other medications like SSRIs and beta blockers that can relieve anxiety symptoms, there are simple coping skills and lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your anxiety even further.

  • Follow a regular sleep schedule by going to sleep and waking up around the same time every day
  • Eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet and limit your intake of processed foods
  • Attend support group meetings and develop a sober support network
  • Limit your caffeine intake as caffeine can contribute to anxiety
  • Make time for self-care each day
  • Learn and practice deep breathing and/or grounding exercises for when your anxiety gets bad

These coping skills will be introduced to you during treatment so you are fully equipped with what you need to keep your anxiety at bay and stay sober. For example, during treatment you are expected to follow a daily routine, go to sleep and wake up at a reasonable time, eat healthy meals, and lean on your peers for support.

Find Treatment for Anxiety and Addiction in California Today

At Sheer Recovery, our expert staff will teach you how your anxiety and substance abuse are intertwined and how they affect each other. We work with each of our clients on an individual basis to make sure they get the treatment they deserve. When you leave our facility, you will feel confident in your ability to cope with anxiety without relying on drugs and alcohol.

If you or a loved one are ready to start your recovery journey or are interested in learning more about our California dual diagnosis recovery program, please contact us today.


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