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Anxiety and Alcohol Abuse

woman holding wine on couch considering anxiety and alcohol abuse

Anxiety and alcohol abuse commonly occur together. A dual diagnosis treatment program can help an individual understand and heal from these two conditions. A significant increase in quality of life and well-being can be found on the other side of an effective treatment program.

Northpoint Omaha helps individuals overcome alcohol abuse and mental health concerns related to anxiety. For more information on how we can help you or a loved one, call 888.687.8014 and ask about the Northpoint Omaha treatment programs for co-occurring disorders.

What Are Co-Occurring Disorders?

A “co-occurring disorder” is the medical term for when an individual experiences multiple mental or behavioral health concerns at the same time. Sometimes mental health concerns develop as a consequence of substance use. In other cases, substance use may be an individual’s attempt at self-medicating to reduce the effects of a mental health condition.

Alcohol use disorder and anxiety are common co-occurring disorders, but the combination is by no means the only one. Typically, a co-occurring disorder is diagnosed when a patient shows signs of drug or alcohol abuse in conjunction with mental health concerns, including:

  • Mood disorders
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Conduct disorders

Effective treatment for a co-occurring disorder requires a behavioral health treatment plan that adequately considers and works to treat all mental and behavioral health challenges a patient is facing. Seeking out a dual-diagnosis treatment program is the best way to ensure that treatment will sufficiently support a patient’s long-term recovery.

How Are Anxiety and Alcohol Abuse Related?

Alcohol abuse and anxiety are a common combination. Alcohol dependence can cause anxiety or worsen its effects. At the same time, individuals dealing with anxiety may turn to alcohol as a means of coping with challenging mental health symptoms.

Alcohol never helps anxiety. However, some individuals may feel they experience temporary relief from the symptoms of anxiety because the depressant effects of alcohol can produce a numbing sensation and a lack of concern over life stressors.

However, alcohol’s effects on the brain often worsen the effects of anxiety after the intoxication has worn off and can lead to panic attacks and increased feelings of tension. Regular alcohol abuse can lead to increased tolerance and significant health problems. Without intervention through a dual-diagnosis treatment program, a person seeking relief from anxiety through drinking is likely to experience increasingly worse physical and mental health.

How Is Alcohol Abuse a Way of Self-Medicating for Anxiety?

There are different types of anxiety disorders. A few of the most common include:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

The common theme in all anxiety disorders is how they impact the central nervous system. Anxiety often produces increased heart rate and blood flow and racing thoughts.

Alcohol is a depressant. It works by slowing heart rate, blood flow, and brain processing. The effects of alcohol run directly counter to the symptoms of anxiety, giving the illusion of relief. This is why it’s common for individuals to turn to alcohol as a means of self-medicating the symptoms of anxiety.

Ongoing heavy drinking can cause these relieving effects to disappear as tolerance increases, which is how the effects of anxiety can be brought on or worsened by alcohol use.

Treat Co-Occurring Disorders at Northpoint Omaha

Northpoint Omaha is an outpatient treatment center that helps individuals overcome substance use and mental health concerns. We offer both a partial hospitalization program (PHP) and an intensive outpatient program (IOP), as well as an aftercare program designed to help patients stay on track once a treatment plan is complete.

If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol abuse, anxiety, or other behavioral health concerns, Northpoint Omaha has the tools needed for healing. Give us a call today at 888.687.8014 to learn more about our programs.