Self Medicating Anxiety
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When: Thursday, September 13th, 2018, at 5:30 PM Eastern U.S. Time
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Use the Meeting ID: 865-177-925
Understanding the term "self medicating":
- People who are anxious can abuse substances and people who abuse substances can suffer from anxiety.
- It does not matter which happened first, the anxiety or the over use of substances.
- Having both a mental health issue and a substance abuse issue such as anxiety and alcohol abuse is called having a co-occurring disorder.
What self-medicating anxiety means:
- When a person with anxiety uses a substance to calm himself or reduce anxiety, it is called self-medicating.
- Instead of consulting with a health care professional, some people choose to take over the counter medications or illcit substances to relieve symptoms.
Facts about co-occurring disorders, such as anxiety and substance abuse:
- Mental illness rates in people seeking substance abuse treatment are about 50% to 75%.
- Substance use disorders are found in 50% of people seeking mental health services.
- People may use alcohol, benzodiazepines or opioids to reduce their anxiety. These drugs are depressants and have relaxing, sedating effects temporarily.
- In the long run, drugs such as alcohol can actually increase someone's anxiety.
- Other behaviors which are addictive can also be used to self-medicate such as shopping, sex, gambling or video games.
The risks of self-medicating anxiety:
- Using drugs, alcohol or other addictive behavior to reduce anxiety can cause dependency on the substance and dependency can create addiction.
- A vicious cycle of anxiety and addiction may occur and this cycle is difficult to break.
- The brain and the body begins to rely on drugs to get through day to day activities.
Solutions to self-medicating:
- Detox from benzodiazepines or alcohol may be necessary.
- The two co-occurring problems (anxiety and addiction) should be treated together. In other words, treatment is integrated.
- The root cause of both the anxiety and the addiction should be addressed.
- With professional help, people learn healthier coping skills such as breathing and relaxation techniques.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy is effective treatment with anxiety and addiction.
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