Treatment for Anxiety and Addiction in New Jersey

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Addiction is a chronic and progressive disease that affects millions of people worldwide. Substance abuse does not discriminate, meaning it affects people of all races, genders, and classes. Even further, addiction is common among individuals with mental health conditions.

When addiction and another mental health condition coincide, this is referred to as dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders. Some of the most common co-occurring disorders for addiction are anxiety disorders.

Somewhere between 33-43% of individuals receiving addiction treatment also have an anxiety disorder.[1]

When anxiety disorders like generalized anxiety, social anxiety, and panic disorder co-occur with addiction, they must be treated simultaneously. Without treating both conditions at the same time, the symptoms of one condition often cause a relapse in the other. Dual diagnosis treatment can address both anxiety and addiction.

What is Anxiety?

While everyone experiences occasional anxiety, some people suffer from intense, consistent, and excessive worry and fear about seemingly normal situations and events. Those individuals are suffering from an anxiety disorder.

The common types of anxiety disorders include:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Social anxiety disorder (social phobia)
  • Specific phobias like agoraphobia (fear of public spaces) or acrophobia (fear of heights)
  • Separation anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Anxiety disorders can cause varying symptoms, with many individuals experiencing a mixture of psychological and physiological effects. Some of the common symptoms of various anxiety disorders include:

  • Feelings of nervousness, restlessness, and tension
  • Feelings of danger, panic, and doom
  • Increased heart rate
  • Hyperventilation
  • Sweating and shaking
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Difficulty concentrating on anything other than the present worries and fears
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Avoiding people, places, or things that induce feelings of anxiety

How are Anxiety and Addiction Connected?

Anxiety disorders are the most common co-occurring conditions for addiction. Oftentimes, individuals with untreated anxiety disorders turn to alcohol or drugs to cope and numb their feelings of fear, stress, panic, and worry. This causes them to develop dependency and, eventually, an addiction to substances.

Other individuals may develop anxiety after long-term drug abuse. For example, people who abuse stimulant drugs like cocaine experience an increase in stress hormones due to the way that stimulants affect the brain. This could lead to a substance-induced anxiety disorder.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Estimates based on past studies suggest that people diagnosed with mood or anxiety disorders are about twice as likely as the general population to also suffer from a substance use disorder.”[2]

What to Expect During Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Anxiety and Addiction

As stated, individuals suffering from comorbid anxiety disorders and addiction must be treated for both conditions simultaneously. If an individual only received treatment for their substance use disorder, they would likely return to self-medicating their symptoms of anxiety. Because of this, dual diagnosis treatment centers in New Jersey are vital for the long-term recovery of both anxiety and addiction.

Medical Detox

First and foremost, the patient must be medically detoxed off of drugs and alcohol. This process involves using medications and monitoring the patient’s vitals to help them successfully overcome withdrawal symptoms.

Individuals suffering from opioid addiction or alcohol use disorder may be given FDA-approved tapering medications to limit their severe symptoms of withdrawal. These medications limit withdrawal symptoms and prevent cravings from occurring.

Behavioral Therapy

Once an individual completes medical detox, they will begin healing from the mental, emotional, and behavioral aspects of addiction and anxiety. Both disorders are successfully treated with behavioral therapies.

The most common behavioral therapies used during dual diagnosis treatment for anxiety and addiction in New Jersey include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Exposure therapy
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
  • Psychoanalytic therapy
  • Interpersonal therapy (IPT)
  • Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT)
  • Contingency management (CM)
  • 12-step facilitation therapy
  • Pharmacological therapy (medications)

Medication Management

Oftentimes, individuals suffering from anxiety disorder can recover solely through behavioral therapy. However, some individuals may require a little extra help to overcome their symptoms and focus on treatment. In these cases, medications will be used.

Typically, dual diagnosis treatment centers stay away from narcotic medications like benzodiazepines to prevent individuals from abusing their medication. Because of this, SSRI and SNRI medications are most commonly used during treatment for co-occurring anxiety and addiction in New Jersey.

Relapse Prevention Planning

Because anxiety disorders and addiction are both lifelong conditions that require long-term maintenance and treatment, relapse prevention planning is a vital aspect of dual diagnosis treatment.

Typically, relapse prevention planning refers to preventing addiction relapse. In the case of an individual with co-occurring disorders, these plans are used to prevent relapse.

Examples of what may be included in a relapse prevention plan include:

  • Continued therapy and counseling
  • Alumni meetings with the former treatment center to promote community support
  • 12 step support groups for addiction and support groups for anxiety disorders
  • Lists of triggers
  • Lists of positive coping mechanisms to use during triggering events
  • People to call for support during tough times
  • Sober living homes to ease the transition from treatment to everyday life

Finding Treatment for Substance Abuse and Anxiety in New Jersey

If you or a loved one suffer from comorbid anxiety and addiction, a dual diagnosis treatment program in New Jersey can help.

For more information on how to find treatment for substance abuse and anxiety near you, contact New Jersey Interventions today.



Medically Reviewed: March 28, 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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