Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers Look at Anxiety & Addiction

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers for Anxiety & Addiction

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Why Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers Are Necessary for Anxiety & Addiction

Living with a mental health diagnosis, like anxiety, can be challenging enough. Struggling with addiction or a substance use disorder at the same time can be overwhelming. When someone experiences at least one mental health diagnosis and a substance use disorder, it is called dual diagnosis or a co-occurring disorder. About half of people with a mental health diagnosis are also affected by substance abuse.[1] The good news is that specialized treatment is available, and a life of sobriety and good health is possible. Read on to learn more about anxiety and addiction and learn if dual diagnosis treatment centers might be a good choice for you or your loved one.

Understanding Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is a natural, life-saving mechanism that has kept the human race alive throughout time. It is the same brain process that triggers the fight or flight response and keeps us safe in dangerous situations. When the feelings of fear or anxiety do not go away, get worse over time, or interfere with daily functioning, an anxiety disorder is diagnosed. Anxiety is the most prevalent mental health diagnosis, with about ⅓ of all adults experiencing an anxiety disorder at some point in their life.[2]

Anxiety disorders include:[3]

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Phobias including agoraphobia
  • Panic Disorder
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder

Understanding Addiction

Addiction, also known as substance use disorder, is a chronic medical condition that can damage health and disrupt daily life by repeated use of a substance despite negative consequences. [4] Repeated use of substances such as alcohol and drugs changes the way the brain works. This is why it is often difficult, if not impossible, for a person with an addiction to quit using the substance without support. Unfortunately, addiction is very common. Over 23 million adults in the United States struggle with addiction currently or in the past. Sadly, only 25% of these people receive the treatment they need.[5]

What’s the Connection Between Anxiety & Addiction?

There are many reasons people with anxiety may struggle with substance use or why people who use substances may also experience anxiety. Researchers look at three main pathways for these co-occurring disorders to develop.[6]

  1. Untreated or under-treated mental illness can lead to substance use. Often this starts as an unhealthy coping mechanism or self-medicating.
  2. Substance use and addiction can contribute to the development of mental illness.
  3. Common risk factors can cause both mental illness and addiction. These include genetic vulnerabilities, underlying brain deficits, and early exposure to trauma and stress.

Many people experience multiple risk factors for developing mental illness and substance use disorder throughout their lifetime. Treatment programs that recognize and treat the individual factors contributing to the development of anxiety and addiction are often the most successful.

Programs in Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers

There are many different treatment programs for mental illness and substance abuse. Many of these address each illness separately. This fails to recognize the complex relationship between the causes and treatments of these co-occurring conditions and often results in less successful or unsuccessful treatment.

A successful recovery plan explores an individual’s hopes and dreams as the foundation for a vision of a life of sobriety and good health. Specialized therapy helps develop the skills necessary to support recovery while a collaborative team supports mental, spiritual, and physical growth and wellness. This whole-person approach is the key to successful dual diagnosis treatment.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the most effective treatment programs address the ways each condition affects the other and include:[7]

Treating a substance use disorder and a mental illness is complex, but recovery is possible, and seeking help is the first step to retaking control of your life.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers Offer Specialized Care

Understanding the complex relationship between anxiety and addiction is the foundation of dual diagnosis treatment centers Collaborative Recovery Program. Ocean Hills Recovery’s unique approach combines social, medical, spiritual, and psychological interventions to ensure the highest possibility of success in recovery. Our team is ready to support you through specialized care, individualized to meet your unique needs. Contact us today.



[1] https://store.samhsa.gov/product/Integrated-Treatment-for-Co-Occurring-Disorders-Evidence-Based-Practices-EBP-KIT/SMA08-4366

[2] https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/any-anxiety-disorder.shtml#:~:text=Prevalence%20of%20Any%20Anxiety%20Disorder%20Among%20Adults,-Based%20on%20diagnostic&text=An%20estimated%2019.1%25%20of%20U.S.,than%20for%20males%20(14.3%25).

[3] https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/anxiety-disorders/what-are-anxiety-disorders

[4] https://www.bmc.org/addiction/about

[5] https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/10-percent-us-adults-have-drug-use-disorder-some-point-their-lives

[6] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/common-comorbidities-substance-use-disorders/why-there-comorbidity-between-substance-use-disorders-mental-illnesses

[7] https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Common-with-Mental-Illness/Substance-Use-Disorders

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