Identifying Addiction as a Mental Illness
Anxiety Disorders and Addiction
For many years, people thought that addiction was something that a person with strong willpower could overcome. It’s recently been found that it’s a legitimate disease and mental illness. This answers why some people can drink or use drugs recreationally, but some people can’t stop once they start. Those who become addicted were typically at risk due to certain circumstances – among the most common being mental illness. Those who suffer from an undiagnosed or untreated anxiety disorder are at risk of becoming addicted because their anxiety can cause stress that can become debilitating.
What is an Anxiety Disorder?
Part of human evolution is the brain’s response to danger. This was essential to human survival. The response is now known as the “fight or flight” response. When the brain acknowledges an immediate threat, the senses are heightened, the heart beats faster, and the person is in survival mode. After a short time, the body returns to normal. Those who suffer from any type of anxiety disorder, have a chemical imbalance, causing them to have feelings of immense fear and danger although the situation may seem completely normal to others. Sometimes, these fears and stresses come from no trigger at all, making it so difficult for the person to live a normal life.
Anxiety and Addiction
An anxiety disorder can develop at any age. It can be a scary and confusing experience. Those who suffer from anxiety are often afraid of telling people what’s going on. This can lead to an undiagnosed anxiety disorder when left unaddressed. A common form of anxiety is social anxiety. Some people find that drinking or using drugs allows them to relax and socialize. Eventually, the person may use drugs or alcohol to treat their anxiety. Over time, their brain becomes dependent whenever these feelings arise. This is one of the ways that self-medicating with alcohol or drugs can lead to a full-blown addiction.
Treating a Dual Diagnosis
When a person is suffering from a mental illness and addiction, it is known as a dual diagnosis. Prescott House understands how important it is to discover early on in treatment if a person has a dual diagnosis. With this in focus, each individual will meet with a psychiatrist within their first week of treatment. It’s also important that every individual meets with a doctor during this time to ensure they have completely detoxed. This is because long-term substance abuse or withdrawal can cause symptoms of mental illness affecting diagnoses.
Throughout treatment, individuals with a dual diagnosis will follow up with their therapist to monitor progress and adjust treatment as needed. Through different group treatment methods like equine therapy, yoga, and expressive arts, each individual will be learning how to deal with their anxieties in a holistic way. The goal of Prescott House is to help each individual with a dual diagnosis develop the skills they need to manage their dual diagnosis when they transition back into the world. By knowing how to manage their anxieties as well as their addiction, each individual has the opportunity to lead a fulfilling and productive life.
Start the healing process by speaking with our Prescott House treatment professionals.