A person who has a dual diagnosis (also referred to as co-occurring disorders) has two separate illnesses, which need to be treated simultaneously.
Stress and Anxiety
Everyone experiences stress and anxiety in their lifetime. Possibly you may feel stressed over a presentation you have to deliver, or you feel anxious in a large social crowd. Either way, stress is a response to a threat in a situation which places a demand on the person’s physical body. Anxiety is a reaction to the stress.
A certain amount of stress is a normal part of life. However, unmanageable stress and anxiety can be unhealthy, both physically and psychologically. They can cause symptoms from headaches, high blood pressure, to heart palpitations and loss of sleep. If stress and anxiety begin interfering with daily life, it may indicate a more serious issue, where avoidance to participate in social situations are due to irrational fears, constant worry, or severe anxiety due to traumatic events weeks, months, or years after it happened. Help may need to be found.
Many alcoholics and addicts use substances to the effect that they experience after the very first drink or drug. The substance allows them to be at ease. Drugs and alcohol give them the ‘liquid courage’ to attend social events and not fear judgment. And ultimately, they see alcohol and drugs as the ‘medicine’ to alleviate anxiety, stress, and fear. This becomes what is known as ‘problem drinking’ and ‘self-medicating.’ To the alcoholic or addict, their problem is the anxiety, stress, and fear, and the solution is the alcohol and drug that replaces those feelings with confidence and self-assurance.
Like any other mental illness, anxiety disorders are not the result of personal weakness, character flaws, or poor upbringing. Many mental illnesses are caused by a combination of factors, including changes in the brain and environmental stress.
Q: What are the main causes of stress?
A: Many people experience stress on a daily basis, and some may be more susceptible to stress than others. But the main stressors were polled, and the results were relatively similar to each person.
- Financial Problems
- Personal Relationships
- Daily Hassles/”Being Too Busy”
Q: Can medications help lower my stress and anxiety?
A: Medicines can be helpful for many things, but usually anti-anxiety medications, such as Xanax, can become incredibly addictive. Because of the relaxed feeling anti-anxiety medications produce, many people use the drug repeatedly developing a dependence ‘just to feel normal.’ It’s far better in the long term to learn to manage stress and anxiety through relaxation techniques like meditation and exercise.
Q: What are the precautions I should take when I’m in early recovery?
A: Managing your stress and anxiety at the beginning of recovery should be a huge precaution! Often if we are overwhelmed with work expectations or life in general, we fall back into old patterns of worrying and restless thoughts that produce anxiety and depression. It is imperative to get ahead of our stress and do the work necessary to continue to recover fully. Many people slip back into their addictions because they believe they can’t handle what the world has to offer them, but that is not true! Recovery has everything to do with being aware of our thoughts, feelings and actions so we know how to take care of ourselves without the necessity of relapse.
A Holistic Approach to Treating Anxiety and Stress
Through early recovery, many professionals will suggest mindfulness meditation as a method to relieve anxiety and stress. There are various types of guided meditations that will reduce the anxious and tense feelings, such as:
and Mantra Meditation
Being present at the moment, taking a five-minute break to focus on one behavior with awareness and to tune into the bodies senses can help alleviate stress and anxiety. After practice, these approaches will become part of daily routine. At Ambrosia’s Beverly Hills drug rehab, Los Angeles based Yoga instructors specialize in trauma-conscious yoga.
Having a dual diagnosis of both mental illness and substance abuse can make recovery even more challenging.
In the past, stress and anxiety and chemical dependency were addressed as separate conditions and treated separately. At Ambrosia, we treat not only substance abuse and dependence but also the mental illness components. Our addiction professionals integrate individualized treatment plans for each client to treat the individual’s body, mind, and soul.
Dual diagnosis treatment encompasses some different strategies, such as:
- Centralized care provided in a single rehabilitation facility
- A collaborative treatment team that includes psychologists, addiction counselors, and mental illness specialists
- Individual psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy that focuses on managing emotions and minimizing the risk of substance abuse
- Support groups from others who are battling addiction and mental illness
“Time goes from present to past.” – Shunryu Suzuki