Understanding Substance-Induced Anxiety Disorder


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Substance-induced anxiety disorder is like having regular anxiety that develops from using a drug or coming off of it. With this condition, an individual may experience restlessness, nervousness, panic, and other negative symptoms associated with anxiety. 

When an individual is involved with drugs, especially over an extended period of usage, it can produce detrimental effects mentally as well as physically. As a result of the drug-caused chemical imbalance in the brain, a person’s ability to feel, think, and act may be affected. As they begin to exhibit anxious behaviors as a consequence of taking drugs, one might say that they have developed a substance-induced anxiety disorder.

What Causes Substance-Induced Anxiety Disorder?

Different substances can produce different effects on an individual. While some drugs may cause anxiety as a person is taking them, others might produce symptoms weeks after the person has stopped. Moreover, this disorder can also develop while a person is experiencing other withdrawal symptoms after stopping a drug. Generally, here are some substances that are found to cause symptoms of anxiety in an individual:

  • Alcohol
  • Cocaine
  • LSD
  • Decongestants
  • Caffeine
  • Steroids
  • Stimulants
  • Some prescription medications

Can It Develop From a Typical Anxiety Disorder?

If an individual already has an existing anxiety disorder prior to substance use, even as symptoms may worsen from the drug, it is not considered a substance-induced anxiety disorder. For the disorder to be substance-abused, it has to develop during or after the use of the drug.

Symptoms of Drug-Induced Anxiety Disorder

As previously mentioned, symptoms of substance-induced anxiety disorder may develop during the course of taking the drug or after, whether it’s a few days or weeks. Some notable symptoms include:

  • Difficulty focusing or remembering things
  • Cold sweat or chills
  • Hot flashes
  • Racing heart
  • Weight loss from appetite decrease, vomiting, or having stomach pain or diarrhea
  • Chest pains
  • Excessive sweat
  • Shakiness
  • Numbness
  • Experiencing respiratory or gastrointestinal distress
  • Frequent pessimistic thoughts
  • Feeling as if you will never get well
  • Sleeping poorly or waking up often throughout the night 
  • Feeling as though you’re losing your mind or dying

When these symptoms persist, it’s crucial to seek professional help immediately, whether from your primary care physician or an experienced addiction treatment specialist. Improper management of any withdrawals or disorders that follow substance use can have dangerous and, worse, lethal consequences.

Dual Diagnosis for Co-Occurring Disorders

Whenever a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder occur at the same time, it is considered a co-occurring disorder. Addiction treatment that aims to address both issues simultaneously is referred to as dual diagnosis treatment

People with a dual diagnosis often have complicated requirements in terms of physical, social, economic, and emotional pressures, which are often aggravated by drug abuse. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it is estimated that around 50% of individuals with a mental disorder will also exhibit a substance use disorder, and vice versa, at some point in their lives. In turn, both illnesses may become more severe due to the interactions between them. 

What Happens During Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

During dual diagnosis, an individual works with a mental health professional and addiction specialist to understand how each of their disorders affects the other. Based on this information, healthcare providers can develop and recommend the best treatment plan that addresses both conditions as well as all of the individual’s recovery needs. 

Depending on the unique situation, treatment for dual diagnosis may include a combination of several clinical (cognitive behavioral therapy, medication management, medical detoxification, etc.) and holistic therapies (art therapy, yoga therapy, equine-assisted therapy, etc.).

Risk Factors for Dual Diagnosis

Unfortunately, there are some circumstances that can put an individual more at risk than others for developing both a substance use condition and a mental health disorder, such as anxiety. Factors that can put someone at risk include:

  • Exposure to drugs and toxins during pregnancy.
  • Self-esteem issues or low self-image
  • Family history of addiction or drug misuse
  • Family history of mental conditions

While keeping these risk factors in mind aids in the diagnosis of co-occurring disorders, it is important to understand that substance misuse and a mental health disorder such as anxiety can develop differently for each person, as well. For this reason, the most effective treatment involves an open approach that recognizes the individual and their needs uniquely instead of just additional statistics.

Treating Anxiety and Addiction

As we learned previously, those who suffer from an anxiety disorder are twice as prone as the general population to misuse drugs or alcohol. What’s more, efforts at self-medication often backfire, only exacerbating the symptoms of both disorders. Overcoming one disorder alone can already be a challenge, which only stresses the importance of seeking professional help.

At Magnolia Ranch Recovery, we recognize that addiction is a disease that affects the whole individual, including the body, mind, and spirit. We also know that mental health conditions may contribute to the development of addiction or make recovery from addiction difficult. As a result, we provide complete therapy for both conditions, allowing our clients to recover from the inside out.

What You Can Get From Residential Addiction Treatment in Pulaski, TN 

The underlying causes of dual diagnosis are numerous. At Magnolia Ranch Recovery, we personalize our treatment programs for each of our patients based on their specific needs, including their unique mental health conditions and any specific substances they are struggling to overcome.

We are humbled to be among the country’s premier dual diagnosis treatment facilities, employing some of the best drug and alcohol therapists in the nation. Our cutting-edge medical treatment modalities are supported by a dedicated team of professionals that ensure each patient’s safety and well-being for the complete duration of their stay.

If you or a loved one are seeking treatment for drug or alcohol addiction and anxiety in Pulaski, TN, we’re here to help. Please contact us for more specific and detailed information on our admissions process and how you can start healing at our recovery center today.

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Picture of Esra Ahmed - MS, NCC, LPC, MHSP
Esra Ahmed - MS, NCC, LPC, MHSP

Experienced Clinical Director with a demonstrated history of working in the hospital & health care industry. Skilled in Anger Management, Healthcare, Medicine, EMDR, and Life Transitions. Strong healthcare services professional with a Masters Degree focused in Psychology from The University of Memphis.

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