Drug Use and Emotional Problems – Dual Diagnosis Treatment

A person with an anxiety disorder and alcoholism dual diagnosis has mental health issues as well as a substance abuse problem. The two conditions are often linked in a vicious cycle. Many people with anxiety disorders turn to alcohol for relief of unpleasant symptoms. However, excessive use of alcohol can worsen the anxiety experienced during sober periods. Simultaneous treatment of both conditions is necessary for full recovery.

Social Phobia

One of the most common anxiety problems associated with alcohol abuse is social phobia, also called social anxiety disorder. People with social phobia have an intense fear of being humiliated, embarrassed or negatively judged by others. The disorder causes such severe anxiety that people will go out of their way to avoid social activities and public situations. Physical symptoms include trembling, stammering, blushing, sweating, nausea and heart palpitations.

Panic Disorder and php drug rehab Maryland

Another anxiety-related problem commonly found among alcoholics is panic disorder. People with this condition experience repeated episodes of panic attacks, sudden spells of intense anxiety. Sufferers often feel as though they are having a heart attack or nervous breakdown. Physical symptoms can include chest pain, a racing heart, shaking, dizziness and breathing difficulties. These can be accompanied by fears of dying or losing control.

PTSD and php drug rehab Maryland

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is also frequently seen in conjunction with alcohol problems. PTSD is caused by traumatic experiences such as child abuse, rape or armed combat. Symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, agitation and sleeping difficulties. Sufferers avoid stressful situations and tend to be over-sensitive to possible treats. This can lead to difficulties functioning in social and work environments.

Reasons For Abuse

People with anxiety disorders may use alcohol to lower social inhibitions, relieve stress, calm fears and numb emotional pain. Treatments that focus on alcohol problems often fail when patients return to their former coping strategies to deal with anxiety. A study that followed individuals in alcohol dependence programs found that those with anxiety disorders had a significantly greater risk of relapse within four months.


Many alcohol rehab facilities now offer therapies specifically aimed at anxiety disorder and alcoholism dual diagnosis patients. Inpatient programs typically begin with detoxification. Once this has been completed, specialists can more easily distinguish the symptoms of alcohol abuse from those caused by the anxiety disorder. They can then use a range of treatment options to address both of the patient’s issues.

12-Step Program

Methods based on a twelve-step program including peer support are often used to help patients overcome their addiction to alcohol. In addition, appropriate medication may be prescribed to alleviate symptoms of anxiety so patients no longer feel the need to self-medicate with alcohol. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can teach patients practical techniques for reducing social anxiety and panic attacks. Psychotherapy can help patients explore and overcome emotional conflicts.


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