Anxiety and Addiction Recovery: Tools That Work

Anxiety and Addiction Recovery: Tools That Work

Addiction recovery often doesn’t come in isolation. For many people, mental health concerns – such as depression and anxiety – come along too, and that could stem from substance abuse, genetics, personality, trauma, or other causes. Upon entering treatment, anxiety can increase because you’re essentially entering into the unknown; the lifestyle that you became comfortable with is changing, and you may naturally feel some apprehension. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders are the most common disorders in the United States – with about 40 million adults affected every year.

Anxiety Symptoms: What You Need to Know

Co-occurring disorders, such as a substance use disorder (SUD) and an anxiety disorder, can be tricky to treat it careful attention isn’t paid. Personalized treatment is a necessity for recovery, as what one person experiences may be completely different from another. Generally speaking, these are some of the most common symptoms of anxiety, which can have a significant effect on a person’s journey to recovery:

·       Difficulty concentrating

·       Irritability

·       Racing thoughts

·       Restlessness

·       Tension

·       Nausea

·       Fatigue

·       And more

As a study published in the journal Social Work & Public Health emphasizes, anxiety can greatly trigger those in addiction recovery to use again – especially in an attempt to alleviate some of the discomforting symptoms they may be experiencing. One person shared their story of having social anxiety via The Atlantic. They explained, “I have been known to take a discreet last-second swig while walking on stage – because I’m still experiencing the anxiety that makes me want to drink more. My inhibitions have been lowered and my judgment impaired…”

Self-medication is a common yet unfruitful way of coping with anxiety, as it’s only temporary; the only way to work through anxiety is through coping mechanisms established throughout recovery.

Treating Anxiety in Addiction Recovery with Group Therapy

There are many effective methods that have been used to help people work through their anxieties. Sometimes it’s a matter of finding the source of it – such as whether it’s part of withdrawal – and other times it’s a matter of exploring what has occurred in a person’s life so they can find new ways of thinking or relating to it. A 2015 study published in the journal Annals of Military & Health Sciences Research sought to explore the benefits of group therapy on those with anxiety in addiction recovery. A total of 15 people were asked to participate, with another 15 individuals to serve as a comparison group.

Eight sessions of group interpersonal psychotherapy sessions were completed by the participants – and the researchers found that those with anxiety experienced significant decreases in their anxiety symptoms over time. This goes to show that group therapy can be a fruitful place for discussion, learning and growth – even with mental health concerns outside of addiction.

There are many aspects of group therapy that can aid to the reduction of anxiety, such as:

·       Being in a safe space with others

·       Learning from others’ experiences

·       Practicing different forms of communication

·       Engaging in different exercises to broaden your perspective

In addition to this, there are a number of strategies that can strengthen one’s “mental health toolkit”:

·       Problem solving

·       Critical thinking

·       Assessing thought patterns

·       Providing alternative solutions to life’s problems or ways of thinking about something

·       Receiving positive direction

·       And more

Group therapy can be a place for those in recovery to know they’re not alone – but of course, there are many other ways to treat anxiety as well.

Other Forms of Effective Treatment for Anxiety

Medication can work for some, but not for all. Customized treatment programs aim to help those who prefer medication to find what works best for their mind and body, while also staying true to their needs. Holistic treatment approaches are also highly effective for treating anxiety and may include any of the following: massage therapy, chiropractic services, meditation, yoga, art therapy, nature walks and others. In fact, those struggling with anxiety may find that a combination of both traditional and holistic, alternative approaches provide a comprehensive approach to working through all aspects of recovery.

Some therapy approaches, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), shed light onto thought processes and train clients to recognize how their thoughts are influencing their behavior. With CBT, “homework” assignments are often assigned, which help those in recovery apply what they’ve learned in therapy to real-life situations. A 2015 review published in the journal Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience emphasized that CBT can help change maladaptive thought patterns while also helping individuals relate to others in more adaptive ways.

The Road to Recovery: A Journey

The path to recovery is a long and winding one, and those with anxiety can find many ways to work through what’s previously held them back. Tools and resources are a major component of recovery, but so is motivation and determination.

If you’re ready to begin your journey towards restoration of the mind, body and spirit, speak with a professional from a reputable treatment center today.

The mission of The Beach House is to provide success in the recovery process and elevate the standard of comprehensive addiction treatment. Located right on the coast of Malibu, California, expert clinical care and a holistic view of the recovery process is provided to ensure Best-in-Class treatment tailored to the needs of each client. If you’re ready to start your recovery journey today, call us at 310-924-0780.

Saving Lives; Healing Families.

Kimberly James

I am the founder and owner of The Beach House Treatment Center, The White House, Indigo Ranch, Sweetwater Mesa and Beach House Center for Wellness, all in Malibu, California.