In today’s society, we have become increasingly prone to prescription medications, with Benzodiazepines being one of the top contenders. It is no secret that we live in an extremely fast paced world that strives for perfection and dreams for the future. With that being said, it can be extremely difficult for people who suffer from anxiety in sobriety (or otherwise) to cope with all of the pressure and expectations of living a productive, normal life. Especially for people who also suffer from drug and alcohol addiction.
It is common for people who attend treatment for substance abuse to suffer from a dual diagnosis, meaning they also struggle with a mental disorder such as anxiety or depression. That being said, it can be even more difficult to kick the drug use when many of the anti-anxiety meds (benzos) can be addictive themselves. However, there are other alternatives to managing anxiety in sobriety without the use of benzos.
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A Little About Anxiety
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Anxiety is defined as a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. While many people can have fleeting feelings of anxiety, there are people who suffer from a constant bombardment of anxious thoughts, hence, anxiety attacks and panic attacks. The difference between normal anxiety and the mental disorder is that people who suffer from anxiety have it so severely that it interferes with their daily life.
There are a few different types of anxiety, ranging from panic disorder, which is where people suffer from severe and sudden sensations of fear that can result in chest pains and heart palpitations, to social anxiety, all the way to generalized anxiety disorder. Each area affects a person so much with fear and worry that it inhibits them from being able to perform normal functions such as social interactions, work performance, driving, etc.
While the exact cause of mental disorders such as anxiety remains unknown, research has begun to show that they are in no fault related to moral weaknesses or character flaws, but are actually due to chemical reactions in the brain and environmental factors. Some studies have shown that anxiety disorders can be caused by certain brain structures that link memory with severe emotional reaction, and other studies have shown that these disorders are partly genetic. There still remains to be a good amount of research done on mental disorders, but scientists and therapists have begun to make headway on the treatment aspect of these conditions.
Managing Anxiety in Sobriety Without Benzos
While for many, benzodiazepine medications are a very helpful tool in the management and stability of mental disorders such as anxiety, for people who are recovering from a drug and alcohol addiction, adding in these meds can begin to become almost a replacement for their previous drugs of choice. There is a multitude of other options that a person who is recovering from addiction can utilize that will help balance and maintain a comfortable mental state without taking meds.
Counseling helps the person address the underlying reasons for emotional responses. For many people in recovery, they could probably rattle off any dozen of reasons why they are anxious, but a therapist or counselor is beneficial for long-term recovery because they allow a person to assess and eventually heal the memories and behaviors that haunt them. When the reason for the anxious thought patterns is discovered, a therapist can aid in the redirection of the thought patterns so the person will be able to eventually “talk themselves down” without needing to pop a pill or use drugs.
Physical movement and blood pumping exercise are perfect for relaxing the mind. Depending on what the individual is into, taking up a hobby involving physical exercise can be almost a meditative release. Whether it be the gym, yoga, swimming, basketball, running, kayaking, etc., keeping the mind busily focused on a consuming task allows people to be removed from their usual thought patterns, if only for the duration of the workout. However, many people state that once they get into a routine of exercise, they eagerly await it because it is a guarantee that they will feel better after.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
This field of therapy is extremely beneficial for people who suffer from mental disorders as well as drug addiction. The main point of cognitive behavioral therapy is to retrain and reprogram a person’s brain so their usual negative thought patterns will be placed along a more positive spectrum. These thoughts usually come from deep-rooted memories and learned behaviors that have developed in people since childhood. Many of these thought patterns lead to adult depression and anxiety, so CBT can help anxiety sufferers begin to understand and counteract their thinking when it develops into anxious thoughts.
Anxiety: Watch Your Caffeine and Sugar Intake
If you are on the third cup of coffee or second energy drink of the day and notice you are feeling anxious, your beverage could be part of the culprit. Sugar and caffeine are close to the top of the list of addictive chemicals, as our body responds to these in much the same way as drugs and alcohol. When our dopamine levels are affected, our brain will respond in much the same way as it does when we are withdrawing from benzos; anxiety, fatigue, irritability, etc.
Although everyone is different, for those of us who want to live a completely sober life, finding ways to deal with anxiety without the use of benzos is crucial. For those of us who can’t so much as take one drink or pill without triggering our disease, there are endless amounts of healthier options that we can take part of to enhance our lives and quiet our minds.
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Freedom From Addiction
If you have found yourself or a loved one suffering from alcoholism or addiction, you are not alone! If you are ready to change your life and live free of addiction, then Find Addiction Rehabs can help.
Our recovery representatives give you the jump start to recovery you need by aligning you with the right provider to meet your needs among our nationwide, accredited partner facilities. Give yourself a break and reach out now to start your sobriety journey today!
Anna M. joined Find Addiction Rehabs with extensive experience in the field of addiction treatment. As a former Nurse Practitioner in Miami, she found her passion for addiction treatment when a family member was lost to his disease. With each article and resource, she hopes to save other families from experiencing the anguish of a loved one’s passing due to drinking or drugs.