Anxiety is the most common mental health illness in the country, affecting nearly 40 million Americans. Substance abuse and addiction can be made worse when combined with anxiety disorders, and vice versa. That’s why it’s important to approach both as a dual diagnosis treatment program. APEX therapists deal with a wide variety of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, acute stress disorder, social anxiety and other issues. By getting to the root of patients’ anxiety, we can more easily treat both mental health and addiction issues as part of a holistic wellness program.
Alcohol is frequently sought by anxiety sufferers because it is a depressant and slows down brain activity. Those who have an anxiety disorder might feel a little calmer after some alcohol. However, alcohol and any other depressant substance, like Benzos or opioid painkillers, will only make the individual feel better by masking the worrying and anxiety.
With time, the person generally needs more and more alcohol or drugs to feel a bit more anchored and secure. This basically leads into both physical and psychological addiction.
Abstaining from alcohol or substances causes an onset of even more intense symptoms, making it quite impossible for the individual to break free from the vicious circle. They experience insomnia, paranoia, extreme irritability and hallucinations. Alcohol withdrawal could even cause seizures. This reiterates the need for a physician during detox.
Studies and research suggest that less than a half of people suffering from anxiety receive professional help, especially those who have a General Anxiety Disorder (GAD). This means that a huge number of sufferers self-medicate, most probably with alcohol and illicit or legal substances. It is also highly likely that they will not link their anxiety to their addiction problem.
Like all dual diagnoses, anxiety and alcohol or drugs have a complicated and intimate relationship. Many factors are at play: genetics, history of trauma, brain chemistry, medications that produce side-effects and substance abuse.
It can be quite difficult to distinguish where anxiety stops and addiction begins. Sometimes, anxiety is the result of the addiction and other times, it is vice versa. Cocaine, meth, marijuana and alcohol can also bring about anxiety as a consequence of their abuse.
The problem is perpetuated by the fact that abusing alcohol or drugs causes manifold problems in the individual’s social, emotional and professional life, which again makes the anxiety worse.
Dually diagnosed patients who suffer from anxiety require a comprehensive and personalized recovery program. Getting qualified and competent help from addiction treatment centers in San Diego, such as APEX Rehab, is extremely beneficial and usually indispensable. The care APEX provides to dually diagnosed patients with anxiety is administered by a team of highly-specialized professionals who collaborate to produce the best results.
Our physicians are trained and licensed to treat addicts and they will decide what medication is best for every individual case. Recovery treatment for anxious addicts generally works best if it is supported by the right choice of meds that will stabilize the patient and enable them to focus on psychological and other aspects of the treatment, like relaxation. A physician is qualified to determine which meds will support the rehabilitation without leading the patient into a new addiction.
Our psychologists and psychiatrists will decide which approach is best according to the patient’s type of anxiety. For example, those with social anxiety don’t feel comfortable working in group counseling. Normally, though, anxiety patients have been found to respond well to cognitive behavior therapy which equips them with practical coping strategies that enable them to function better on a day-to-day basis without having to seek alcohol or drugs. These individuals also need to learn how to relax naturally and without the help of chemicals.
Other members of our team will also contribute to the recovery program with their knowledge and skills, all with the sole goal of supporting the patient on their road to complete recovery.
At APEX Rehab, our bi-polar therapy program seeks to correct imbalances in brain chemistry through psychotherapy, medication (when necessary) and nutritional counseling. A substance abuse detox program is typically the first step in digging deeper into psychological issues, and our tried-and-true programs are proven to work. Not only do we help patients deal with the symptoms of bi-polar disorder; we treat the underlying cause of the illness. In doing so, many of our patients fully recover and go on to lead normal, productive lives.
Bipolar disorder is manifested through uncontrollable, all-consuming shifts in mood, behavior and energy levels. The lack of stability typically causes the sufferer to have relationship problems, issues with career and income stability, a disposition for accidental injuries and a propensity for suicide.
A connection between the bi-polar disorder and addictive behavior has been noted, but it hasn’t been fully explained. Nationwide research revealed that little over a half of bi-polar patients had been through alcohol or drug addiction, with alcohol being the most frequent choice.
The possible grounds for this connection are various and complex. First of all, there could be something in the brain chemistry that brings bi-polar individuals to addiction. This mood disorder is characterized by exceedingly high levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, which influence the emotions and body metabolism functions such as eating and sleeping patterns. Their hard-wired instability prompts them into the clutches of alcohol and drugs, which are seen as a means of self-medication for their episodes of insomnia, depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, such behavior only worsens the symptoms of bi-polar. It has been found, though, that young males who are bi-polar have the highest likelihood of resorting to alcohol and drugs.
Bi-polar addicts who want to shake off their addiction require professional help and guidance with the process. The fact is that they are on a constant swing between depression and euphoria combined with self-importance. This instability makes it very difficult for these individuals to stick to their recovery plans, which is why they need professional support for a comprehensive treatment that will include their alcohol recovery or drug rehab in San Diego.
It is not possible to receive separate treatments for the bi-polar disorder and the addiction with a high likelihood of success. Drawing a line between these two issues increases the possibility of relapse. APEX Rehab offers an integrated program that can encompass the bi-polar treatment and alcohol or drug rehab in San Diego.
Our program is based on collaboration of top-notch professionals in psychotherapy, holistic healing, wellness and nutrition. Through our residential and outpatient programs, patients get centralized and coordinated care tailored to their needs. Our staff is trained to deal with dually diagnosed patients by developing a comprehensive treatment that usually includes individual psychotherapy, group counseling, psychiatric medication and alternative methods like experiential therapy, recreation, yoga, holistic healing, and so on.
Depression is a common mental illness that comes along with substance abuse; treating the addiction also can bring relief to underlying mental health issues. At APEX, we believe in following an integrative approach – because it works. While treating the addiction may be a patient’s ultimate goal, we know it can only happen when we also treat negative thought patterns and the physiological symptoms that accompany depression. We use a combination of behavioral therapies, nutritional counseling and mind-body exercises to alleviate depressive symptoms and restore balance.
According to a fact sheet by the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the leading cause of disability across the world, but only one half of those who suffer from it will ever receive treatment.
Indeed, depression interferes with all aspects of life and it also increases the risks of chronical illnesses and alcohol and substance abuse. It has been statistically proven that alcoholism and drug abuse happen more often in depressives than in the overall population. It has also been found that one third of individuals treated for depression engage in alcohol and drug abuse.
The relationship between these two occurrences – depression and addiction – is very complex. On the one hand, alcohol and drugs serve to relieve the feelings of self-worthlessness, hopelessness and despair, which are prominent in the depressed. On the other hand, there are many overlapping factors that are conducive both to depression and addictive behavior. These are chemical imbalances in the brain, family histories and traumatic experiences. Finally, the effects of intoxication can simultaneously mask and exacerbate depressive episodes, making them more frequent and intensive. Like in a vicious circle, this prompts the sufferer back into self-destructive indulgence.
For these dually diagnosed individuals, rehabilitation and recovery must focus on both issues to be successful and rewarding. If they are treated for depression only, the fact they abuse alcohol and/ or drugs will negatively affect their motivation and can even result in life-threatening interaction with antidepressants. When they are treated for addiction only, the results of the therapy are not likely to last because the negative thought patterns remain.
The treatment has to target both disorders – the addictive behavior, as well as the feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, low motivation and low energy. Research has shown that the most effective directions are depression medication coupled with cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, trauma and family therapy. A versatile approach is needed to address these patients’ medical, psychological and psychosocial needs.
In the beginning, inpatient treatment is recommended, especially if the patient shows or has shown inclinations toward suicide. Outpatient treatment could be recommended after a solid network of support has been founded.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Our therapists incorporate Dialectical Behavior Therapy, or DBT, to promote abstinence from drug and alcohol use and to reduce the possibility and severity of relapses. Similar to CBT, DBT helps patients develop and pursue goals that are independent of substance abuse and other out-of-control behaviors, with an ultimate goal of helping patients better deal with the everyday problems of life.
DBT is a modality of cognitive behavioral treatment, originally developed to treat individuals with borderline personality disorder who were suicidal. Since then it has been recognized as highly successful in helping individuals with alcohol and substance addiction and those with mental health issues, like depression and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD).
DBT works with individuals in various settings. Firstly, it teaches constructive behavioral skills in a group context. Every session is accompanied with homework that should prompt the patient to process the skills taught. DBT also includes individual counseling and it focuses on the patient’s unique life challenges. Finally, there is phone coaching that ensures the patient can get support and guidance from the therapist at the moments they need them most. All of these aspects of therapy can and, usually do, run simultaneously.
There are multiple behavior patterns that DBT aims to change. Firstly, the therapy focuses on behaviors that threaten the individual’s life, such as suicidal thoughts. Next, there are therapy-interfering behaviors such as coming late to sessions and skipping meetings. Thirdly, the therapy focuses on behaviors that lower the individual’s quality of life, because they interfere with their socio-emotional relationships, professional development, economic stability, etc. Finally, DBT aims to teach the patient skills that will allow them to deal with life challenges more constructively and effectively – skills they should use instead of their dysfunctional patterns.
The skills taught through DBT encompass: mindfulness and aware presence in the moment; pain tolerance and acceptance without attempting to change the pain; interpersonal skills like assertiveness and the ability to say no in order to build self-respect and better relationships; emotional regulation and changing undesirable emotions.
The reason why this therapy is called “dialectical” is because it integrates opposites of change and acceptance. For example, the four skills which are at the foundation of DBT are acceptance-oriented (accepting the present moment and pain when it emerges) and change-oriented (changing interpersonal and emotional patterns).
Through the four stages of DBT treatment, the patients progress from the “living hell” of their life plagued with mental disorders and/ or substance abuse, through acceptance of pain to full emotional experiencing and a full spiritual existence.
DBT has demonstrated tremendous success in the reduction of suicides, instances of treatment dropout and alcohol and substance abuse. It also helps deal with depression, accumulated anger and pain and improves the overall and social functioning of individuals who receive this treatment.
APEX Rehab is a San Diego alcohol and drug rehab center which has a team of highly qualified professionals who are able to deliver the best possible Dialectical Behavior Therapy available.