Anxiety and addiction go hand-in-hand. Some individuals who suffer from severe anxiety will turn to drugs or alcohol to help alleviate the discomforts of their anxiety. Self-medicating cannot only be dangerous, but can also lead to a built up tolerance and result in developing an addiction problem. Conversely, an individual who has engaged in habitual substance abuse may have altered the chemistry makeup in his or her body, resulting in experiencing severe anxiety. There is no real way to figure out if an individual’s anxiety led to their addiction or vice versa, and when it comes to treatment, it doesn’t really matter. It is, however, important to treat one’s addiction and anxiety simultaneously, as each individual component has played a role in the development of detrimental behaviors and harmful choices that resulted in one’s need for treatment.


Anxiety comes in many different forms. There are a number of anxiety disorders that are specific to certain phobias and others that are more ambiguous. A phobia is when a person struggles with an intense irrational fear or aversion to something (i.e. claustrophobia, an extreme fear of small or confined spaces). Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), for example is a type of anxiety disorder that presents itself as excessive worry (i.e. about money, health, work…etc.) and interferes with an individuals ability to function in their daily lives. Every individual will experience some form of anxiety in his or her lives at some point. Should an individual experience anxiety to a point of being unable to function in his or her daily life, the anxiety they are experiencing is considered to be excessive and should be evaluated by a mental health professional.


Addiction is now categorized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a mental health disorder. It manifests as one’s inability to stop using drugs and/ or alcohol, regardless of the negative consequences that may ensue as a direct result of one’s substance use. Addiction can wreck havoc on an individual’s life. It can damage relationships, cause run-ins with the law, lead to reckless and dangerous behaviors, and lead to severe short and long-term physical, emotional and in some cases mental effects. If left untreated, addiction can lead to overdose and subsequently death. Not every individual who overdoses will die, but an overdose occurs as a result of one’s physical body being unable to metabolize the abused drug, which leads to one’s body treating the drug as a toxic chemical and responding accordingly. This obviously can lead to dangerous consequences.


The first step in treating an addiction is to undergo detox. Detox is the process that rids one’s body of any foreign substance or substances. During detox, it is not uncommon for an individual to experience withdrawal symptoms. When a person has habitually abused a substance, his or her body has become accustomed to functioning with the presence of the drug in their system. When it is removed, the individual’s body will have to scramble to figure out how to function without the drug present. The withdrawal symptoms that a person may experience will depend on several factors: the length of time the person abused drugs, the type of drugs abused, the potency of drugs, if an individual mixed substances, and a person’s medical health history.


Depending on the severity of an individual’s anxiety, it may be beneficial for the person to find a substance abuse or addiction treatment program that is equipped to handle a dual diagnosis. A substance abuse treatment program that works with clients who have a dual diagnosis will be able address an individuals struggles with both anxiety and addiction. It is important for a person to have the proper support throughout his or her substance abuse or addiction treatment program, so as to assure the most successful outcome possible.

Further Information

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please seriously consider getting help as soon as possible. Addiction can be an incredibly damaging disease and the sooner help is received, the better. For further information on substance abuse or addiction, feel free to reach out to us at: or 1-800-210-1216. You are also more than welcome to email us at We are happy to answer any questions and provide any information you may be looking for regarding substance abuse and addiction.



1813 12th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404

Phone: 800.210.1216