Do Drug Addicts Suffer from Anxiety?

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Anxiety and drug addiction go hand in hand. Drugs cause anxiety either through the effects of the drugs themselves or during withdrawals. At the same time, most addicts use drugs or alcohol to reduce their anxiety.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal response to stress or fear. Most everyone will feel anxious about serious situations. When someone feels nervous or afraid, their bodies will release ephedrine, a stress hormone needed to help someone survive in a time of flight or fight. Most people experience varying degrees of anxiety, overcome the period, and return to a more stable awareness.

Anxiety disorders are more challenging and are diagnosable mental health conditions where the individual experiences intense levels of anxiety that interrupt their ability to function. Some common anxiety disorders are

  • Generalized Anxiety
  • Panic Disorder
  • Phobias (agoraphobia,
  • Social Anxiety
  • Separation Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive disorder

Is Anxiety Worse For Addicted Individuals?

Because addiction is a condition where the person is self-medicating, it is safe to assume that an addict is likely to suffer from an anxiety disorder. An addict may have worse anxiety compared to non-addicts with anxiety simply because of the effects of drugs and drug dependence that cause withdrawals. The drugs that people abuse or are prescribed to lower their anxiety symptoms are classed as central nervous system depressants.

These include alcohol, opioids, and benzodiazepines. The most common prescription for treating anxiety is Xanax or Ativan; both are benzodiazepines and are themselves addictive. Still, addicts versus others diagnosed with an anxiety disorder may feel as terrible from the anxiety symptoms but will abuse the medication or drug, and the non-addict won’t.

How Many People Have Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety disorders affect many people at distinct stages of their lives. Some cases are mild, moderate, or severe. The National Institute of Health discusses anxiety disorders and the numbers.

Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or fear about an event or situation. It’s normal for people to feel anxious in response to stress. Sometimes, however, anxiety becomes a severe, persistent problem that’s hard to control and affects day-to-day life. About 19 percent of U.S. adults have an anxiety disorder in any given year, and an estimated 31 percent have an anxiety disorder at some time in their lives. Anxiety disorders are generally treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both. (NIH)

What Treatment is Available For Addicts With Anxiety?

Anxiety is considered a mental health diagnosis. It is typical for addicts to have co-occurring diagnoses, known as comorbidity or dual diagnoses. Because one condition can result from the other or vice versa, getting help for both is critical. If a person is only treated for their addiction and not their anxiety, they will relapse to self-medicate again for their anxiety.

The available treatments are evidence-based and will include a dual diagnosis therapy regimen, cognitive behavioral therapy, one on one counseling, trauma counseling, group counseling, holistic medicine, and extensive substance abuse treatment.

Call to arrange a 24-hour admission into an evidence-based program for comorbidity of anxiety and addictions. We are here to help you overcome the most common dual diagnosis through in-depth therapy and support.

Medically Reviewed: October 19, 2022

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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