Alcohol and Anxiety Disorder Treatment

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When suffering from both anxiety disorder and alcohol abuse, it can seem like life is out of control. Understanding both of these issues and learning how to take care of yourself, without alcohol as a self-treatment, can make a big difference. With the right treatment center there to guide and help you, it is easier to get your life back on track.

While many wonder whether the anxiety disorder came first or the alcoholism did, there is no denying that when both of these issues come to the forefront, there are many things that the patient will need to deal with. A diagnosis of either one could cause the other disorder to appear.

For many people, it is easy to just dismiss some of the feelings they have of fear, stress or nervousness. They assume that everyone worries, so it is not a big deal. Occasional stress or anxiety is generally accepted in the society, but when the anxiety starts to become more persistent and is hard to control, it can leave the patient disabled and feeling like there is no help for them on the other side.

Once these thoughts have a chance to interfere with daily life, there is not a more serious issue at play. For those who have anxiety disorder, there is more than just the temporary worry that most people feel. This feeling starts to take over their lives and can be hard to work through without the right treatment.

Are There Different Types of Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety can include several different types depending on what is wrong with the patient and what is causing them to worry excessively. Whether they are brought on by alcoholism or the alcohol abuse started because the patient suffered from one of the anxiety types, the symptoms can be severe and may affect the daily life of the patient in a significant way. Some of the psychiatric disorders that are included in the term “anxiety disorder” include:

  1. Generalized anxiety disorder: This will be the disorder that occurs when someone has ongoing anxiety for a longer period of time. Over the course of six months, the patient is able to say that they had more bad days than good.
  2. Panic disorders: This happens with those who have gone through a panic attack and start to take on behaviors that are dysfunctional in order to avoid a panic attack. These will take place for longer than a month.
  3. Phobias: These are going to be a type of anxiety disorder that occurs due to extreme fear or anxiety to situations, living things, and objects. This fear is something that most people would not be scared of and is often blown out of proportion.
  4. Social anxiety disorder: This is a type of anxiety that happens when the individual is exposed to other people and feels anxious and worried at that time. This will be considered a disorder if it occurs for more than 6 months.
  5. Agoraphobia: This is a disorder that has extreme forms of anxiety. The individual may feel like they are stuck in a situation they can’t escape. This can include in an open space, in a crowd, or somewhere else. A medical professional will need to examine the patient to see if this is a condition that they have.

Each of these anxiety disorders can bring their own unique challenges to the table and could cause the individual to give up on some of their normal behaviors and lifestyle in order to avoid what is causing them so much fear. Alcohol can come into the mix because it may make them feel like they are more in control or could quell the anxiety and the worry. However, in many cases, the alcohol just makes the situation worse.

How are Anxiety Disorders and Alcoholism Linked?

Anxiety disorders are considered the most common mental disorders in the United States. It is estimated that up to 48 million people have anxiety disorders every year, but only 43% of them receive treatment. Instead of receiving some of the treatment that they need for this disorder, many patients will turn to alcohol or other drugs as a way to cope with the anxiety and help them get some relief from the symptoms.

While it is known that many people who have anxiety will turn to alcohol to ease the symptoms and that many people who drink alcohol excessively will end up with anxiety, it is hard to figure out which of the conditions came first. This has led most researchers that look into this to believe that the relationship between both disorders is multifaceted and has many different parts that come together in each individual.

Treating Alcohol Abuse and Anxiety Together

Once the patient has a mental health issue along with alcohol use disorder, such as is the case with alcohol abuse and anxiety, it is going to be seen as a dual diagnosis. It doesn’t really matter which of the two disorders developed in the patient first, as each condition will influence what happens with the other, so they must seek treatment for alcohol and anxiety disorder at the same time. This will give them the best chance of success and avoiding a relapse in the future.

Because of the fact that both disorders are so intertwined, it is best to find a treatment center that will work on both disorders at the same time. This ensures that the patient is able to work through both problems and may provide some specialized care that can prevent them from relapsing and ending up with a lot of trouble.

There are different treatment options that are available to help with alcoholism and anxiety disorders based on what works the best for the individual. We can start with the alcoholism. The best treatment options will often include some medication to help during the withdrawal, a combination of individual and group counseling, and an aftercare plan to provide the patient with some of the support that they need to keep sober.

There are a few options available to the patient suffering from anxiety as well. This will often need some specialized therapy with a medical professional at the treatment center. They may also get medication that helps them to safely manage their symptoms along the way.

What Can I Expect at an Alcohol and Anxiety Disorder Treatment Center?

For someone who has decided to go into a dual diagnosis treatment center for anxiety and alcohol use, it can be a little scary trying to figure out what is going to happen next. While each facility is going to be different, some of the steps that you can look for during treatment include:


When a patient decides to seek alcohol and anxiety disorder treatment, they will start with the admittance process. This is where all the fun paperwork will happen. It may take some time, but with the interview and all the questions, the medical team will get a better idea of what is going on with the patient, their health history, and their alcohol use. This helps them to create a personalized plan for the patient to follow while in the facility and when they leave.


One of the first steps is to help the patient detox from the alcohol. This can be challenging in the best of circumstances. If the patient is also dealing with anxiety at the same time, it is possible that the symptoms will be heightened and they will need medical professionals to help them get through it all.

While going through the withdrawal, medical professionals will monitor the patient the whole time. Depending on which symptoms show up and how the patient is able to handle them, the team may decide to administer medication to help. While withdrawal is not pleasant, there is a team there to help, which makes it much safer to do in the facility than on their own.


All treatment centers will have some kind of therapy offered for the patients. This can be a combination of group therapy, individual therapy, and even family therapy when it is needed. During the group therapy, the patient will get a chance to meet others who are dealing with some of the same issues. This helps them to learn more coping options and to meet others who will be part of their support group as they go through the process.

Individual therapy will be important during this time as well. This is time for the patient to learn more about their anxiety and what caused it to start with. They can also learn how to manage the anxiety, what some of their triggers for drinking are, and how to cope in healthier and safe ways. The treatment center may also determine that medications to help deal with the anxiety disorder will be necessary.

In some cases, family therapy will be recommended. This is there to help others in the family understand more about the dual diagnosis of alcoholism and anxiety. Family members can learn tools that help them cope and better understand how they can help their loved one through it all.

Support Groups

While attending the treatment for anxiety disorders and alcohol abuse, the patient will be introduced to others who struggle with the same issues as well. This will allow them to start forming a support group that may prove invaluable when they are done with treatment. This may turn into some of the support they need when things get tough or they need some extra guidance and assistance as they maintain their sobriety when done.


The treatment does not just end after the time in the clinic. There will often be some aftercare plan that is determined right at the beginning of the treatment. The process of staying sober and dealing with anxiety disorder is long-term, and something the patient will need to deal with for the rest of their lives. The treatment facility will provide an aftercare plan that may include therapy sessions, medication, support groups and more.

Treatment Duration

You can also choose between several different program lengths based on what works for you. There are 30, 60, 90 day and 1 year options for patients to choose from. Since the medical team will be working through two issues at the same time, it is often best to go with the longer treatment options since these are often seen as the most effective. However, if they do not work for some reason, the inpatient treatment center can take that into consideration and will provide other options, along with the right aftercare plan.

Should I Seek Alcohol and Anxiety Disorder Treatment?

When the patient is suffering from either alcoholism or anxiety disorder, they need to consider the right treatment to help them get better. A few may realize that they suffer from both at the same time. When this happens, they can look for a facility that will help them handle both of these conditions together, with medical professionals there to help.

However, many people may not realize that they have a co-occurring condition. This is most often true when the individual recognizes the alcoholism, but does not realize why they are relying on the substance so much. They may enter into treatment for the alcohol abuse and during therapy, find out with their medical professional that the underlying cause is their anxiety.

The medical team at the treatment center for anxiety disorder and alcohol will be able to help. There are a number of steps that they can do with the patient to help better understand the issue and get things on track again. From a detox to help with the withdrawal symptoms to therapy to help the patient understand what is going on, and even some support after they leave the facility, the patient will be able to come to terms with both conditions so they can get their life on track.

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