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The Connection Between Anxiety and Addiction

Addictions can form for many reasons – heredity, the influence of other people, lifestyle choices. Anxiety is another common cause of addiction.

We all face anxiety at various points in life, but everyone handles it differently. Those that are having difficulty coping often turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to escape the stress. Unfortunately, doing so usually adds stress because the person feels guilty or weak, which makes the anxiety worse. Anxiety and addiction are so closely intertwined there are now specialty treatment centers that provide rehab for men or for women as well as addressing the anxieties that can lead to addiction.

Common Sources of Extreme Anxiety

Everyday difficulties can make us stress, but usually it’s short-term and easily managed. Then there are other situations that cause extreme anxiety for prolonged periods. Chronic stress can have a significant impact on a person’s mental and physical well-being. Extreme, overwhelming anxiety is also possible in some circumstances.

Debt or Financial Difficulty

Debt is a serious source of stress for many people. According to the American Psychological Association’s 2010 Stress in America survey, money is the number one source of stress. Fear of debt and the health of the general economy are also some of the top sources of stress.

Death of a Loved One

There’s nothing more difficult in life than losing a loved one. The grieving process can last months and be emotionally overwhelming. In order to forget or deal with the emotion pain, some people turn to drugs and alcohol.

Loss of a Job

When someone loses their job it can rob them of their sense of worth as well as their income. A job loss can also create a lot of uncertainty and instability, which creates even more anxiety.


When a marriage dissolves it can be difficult to handle even if both parties want to end the relationship, especially if there are children involved. Divorce can mean an entire upheaval of everyday life and cause financial strain.

Health Problems

When your health starts to slip it can be very scary and stressful. In addition to concerns over health, a person may lose their mobility, have to quit work or make dramatic lifestyle changes. A loved one who is experiencing health problems can be equally stressful.

Signs a Loved One is Self-Medicating to Mask Anxiety

Often people who are using drugs and alcohol to deal with anxiety hide their addiction from others. They’ll go to great lengths to hide their actions so that others don’t catch on to their use of drugs and/or alcohol. Despite their efforts they still may exhibit signs of self-medicating to mask anxiety:

·  Increase in the frequency of drinking

·  Hiding drugs or alcohol where they think others won’t find them

·  Selling items for extra money

·  Bills that go unopened or unpaid

·  Asking friends and family for money

·  Telling family and friends conflicting stories in regards to their actions and whereabouts

·  New financial troubles

·  Erratic mood changes

·  Changes in behavior

·  Loss of interest in things they once enjoyed

·  Often late or miss events altogether

·  Becoming overly defensive or paranoid

·  Becoming unreliable

·  Forgetting appointments

·  Slipping away during events without telling others

·  Not spending as much time with family and friends

·  Changing their daily routine without any apparent reason

·  Loss of weight or muscle mass

·  Lack of ambition or motivation

·  Increased sleep or sleeping at odd hours of the day

If a loved one is showing any of the signs above after experiencing an extreme anxiety try talking to them first to get a better idea of how they’re coping. A conversation can help you determine whether drugs or alcohol is the reason for their odd behavior or if it’s simply a response to the anxiety.

If it’s clear your loved one is abusing alcohol or drugs enlist the help of others and try to convince them to get professional help. You may need to get the assistance of an intervention expert who can act as the facilitator. Before approaching your loved one research potential facilities so that the process can begin as soon as possible.

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