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Many individuals diagnosed with substance use disorder (SUD) have co-occurring anxiety-related mental health issues. Some people worry their additional anxiety symptoms may increase the risk of relapse during early recovery. However, personalized treatment programs reduce that risk and provide clients with the skills to successfully manage their anxiety. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “Treatments, such as medicines and therapy, help most people with anxiety disorders.” In addition, “Support groups and learning stress management techniques can also assist with managing symptoms.” West Coast Recovery Centers uses evidence-based treatments and peer support to help clients manage anxiety during recovery. 

Coping With Anxiety Disorders During Treatment for SUD

Symptoms of anxiety disorders often worsen during detox and withdrawal. Changes to the body cause some clients to experience mood disturbances or emotional instability. According to Social Work in Public Health, “Anxiety symptoms can emerge during the course of chronic intoxication and withdrawal.” More specifically, researchers found that “[a]nxiety disorders modify the presentation and treatment outcome of SUDs, and SUDs modify the presentation and treatment outcome for anxiety disorders.” Nutritional therapy, prescription medication, and psychotherapy help clients in treatment manage anxiety symptoms during withdrawal and early stages of recovery. 

Treatment programs help clients manage anxiety by doing the following: 

  • Providing a safe and structured environment 
  • Reducing triggers 
  • Helping clients develop coping skills 
  • Providing emotional and practical support 
  • Ensuring clients have access to essential resources 

Individuals with anxiety disorders have a higher risk of experiencing chronic stress. Clients and their loved ones are educated on the importance of stress reduction in early recovery. Clinicians guide clients through identifying life stressors and creating strategies for minimizing potential triggers. 

Commonly Co-Occurring Anxiety Disorders

The type of disorder influences how anxiety impacts treatment and long-term recovery from substance abuse. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “Researchers are finding that both genetic and environmental factors contribute to the risk of developing an anxiety disorder.” Genetics and other risk factors play a role in determining the type of disorder a person experiences.

Some common co-occurring anxiety-related disorders include: 

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Social anxiety disorder 
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) 
  • Specific phobias, including agoraphobia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Panic disorder 
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) 

In some cases, clients have more than one co-occurring mental health disorder. Every anxiety disorder has different risk factors, symptoms, and side effects. Anxiety is also a common side effect and symptom of many mental health disorders, including personality and mood disorders. 

The Impact of Anxiety Symptoms on Recovery

People in recovery face a lot of challenges. Treatment programs provide them with resources and tools for managing their condition and overcoming those challenges. However, stress and other factors often cause people to experience mild to severe anxiety during early recovery. Prescription medications reduce the impact of anxiety. Unfortunately, many anxiety medications do not mix well with medications for SUD symptoms. According to SAMHSA, “It is important to note that combining medications used for SUD with anxiety treatment medications can have serious adverse effects.”

Anxiety symptoms significantly impact recovery by doing the following:

  • Making it more difficult for clinicians to treat both conditions with prescription medications
  • Increasing overall stress and reducing the effectiveness of therapy 
  • Reducing self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-efficacy

Many aspects of anxiety have an adverse effect on individuals with SUD. Clinicians provide clients with the skill development and support they need to reduce the symptoms of both conditions and manage sobriety successfully. Clients are treated using personalized treatment plans to ensure they have access to the services they need to reduce symptoms of anxiety-related disorders and SUD. 

Managing Dual Diagnosis Involving Anxiety Disorders

Most anxiety disorders involve persistent feelings of dread, hopelessness, and fear. Some disorders are caused by well-known factors, such as trauma, while others may be triggered by more general stressors. Treatment for anxiety should address any known triggers and underlying issues impacting a person’s sobriety and mental health. Managing dual diagnoses is easier when clients and clinicians work together to identify, process, and resolve the underlying issues contributing to anxiety. Clinicians at West Coast Recovery Centers provide clients with mindfulness-based techniques and other coping skills for controlling anxiety.

The Importance of Skill Development

Skill development allows clients in recovery to control their emotional responses to unexpected and everyday stressors. Clients practice social and coping skills in therapy and during activities with peers, the clinical team, and family members. Becoming familiar with coping skills during treatment makes it easier for people to use them to overcome everyday problems after they return home. 

Some of the most common skills people learn in treatment include:

  • Effective communication 
  • Conflict resolution
  • Active listening 
  • Stress management
  • Assertiveness
  • Emotion regulation
  • Mindfulness
  • Self-care

West Coast Recovery Centers ensures every client learns the skills they need to maintain sobriety and manage anxiety.

Anxiety is a common symptom of substance use disorder and other mental health conditions. Many clients diagnosed with SUD have co-occurring anxiety-related disorders requiring simultaneous treatment. Addressing both issues consecutively during treatment reduces the risk of relapse and helps clients gain emotional stability. Clinicians at West Coast Recovery Centers have created a welcoming and structured environment where clients can choose from a wide range of treatment options. Psychotherapy and prescription medication are the two most common treatments for anxiety disorders. The care team also offers alternative holistic therapies like yoga and mindfulness-based meditation. To learn more about our programs and how we can help clients manage anxiety during treatment, call us today at  (760) 492-6509.

West Coast Recovery Centers ( 370135CP), Valid through July 31, 2025
Jackson House Visalia (540056AP), Valid through May 15, 2025
DHCS Licensing and Certification Division