Managing Your Anxiety in Recovery

Managing Your Anxiety in Recovery

Managing Your Anxiety in Recovery

There is a strong correlation between anxiety and substance abuse. Sometimes, people develop anxiety disorders as a result of abusing drugs and alcohol. Sometimes, the anxiety disorder leads to substance abuse as a way to deal with symptoms. Either way, the substance abuse and the anxiety must be managed and treated together for the best chances of success.

Managing Your Anxiety in Recovery: What is an anxiety disorder?

Most people experience anxiety occasionally. They may feel anxious before a job interview or a big exam. This is normal. People who have anxiety disorders, however, experience such extreme or persistent anxiety symptoms that they interfere with their daily lives.  Anxiety disorders are chronic and can grow worse if untreated.

Managing Your Anxiety in Recovery: Chemical Basis

Chemicals in drugs like alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, hallucinogens, and prescription narcotics can affect the way the brain functions. They can cause or worsen symptoms of anxiety like:

  • Constant worry and nervousness
  • Fear of impending disaster
  • Panic
  • Insomnia
  • Memory loss
  • Problems with concentration
  • Physical symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, fast heart rate, sweating, difficulty breathing.

The most common class of drug used to treat anxiety is benzodiazepines such as Ativan, Xanax, and Valium. However, benzodiazepines can be both physically addicting and habit forming. Even when taken as prescribed, long term benzodiazepine use can result in physical dependence and withdrawal. Benzodiazepines are the most commonly misused pharmaceutical drug in the United States.

Managing Your Anxiety in Recovery: Medications

As an addict or alcoholic in recovery, you should steer clear of any mind or mood altering medications to manage your anxiety. There are, however, non-narcotic medications that can help you medications. Certain antidepressants, beta blockers, and holistic medications like valerian root and passion flower can manage your anxiety in recovery.

Managing Your Anxiety in Recovery: Other methods

Lifestyle changes are often a good method for managing your anxiety in recovery. Cutting out caffeine, for instance, can be very helpful in managing anxiety symptoms. Caffeine is a stimulant, so it often exacerbates feelings of anxiety.

Other helpful lifestyle changes include exercise and other diet changes. Studies show that regularly working out can greatly reduce anxious episodes. Your routine should include cardiovascular exercise, which burns lactic acid, produces mood-enhancing chemicals called endorphins, and causes the body to use oxygen more efficiently. Also, practice relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, Tai chi or progressive relaxation are all nondrug remedies that can help in managing your anxiety in recovery.

Reducing your intake of sugar, refined carbohydrates and foods with additives and chemicals can be very beneficial. In addition, increasing your consumption of foods rich in omega-3s (extremely healthy oil found in salmon), walnuts, flaxseed and other foods that has been shown to boost mood. Also, foods high in vitamin B, magnesium, and calcium help the nervous system function properly.

Finally, getting proper sleep is helpful in managing your anxiety in recovery. Lack of sleep and exhaustion can worsen anxiety symptoms. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep per night.

If you need help with an addiction problem please give us a call at 800-507-7389.

If you need help with your addiction please call us at 800-507-7389.

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