Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on October 8, 2021.
If you're struggling with an anxiety disorder, you may think drinking alcohol helps quiet your symptoms. Unfortunately, the truth is a bit more complex than that. Although alcohol may help you feel more comfortable with your surroundings at the moment, there's evidence that it may do more harm than good in the long run. Read on to learn more about how alcohol and anxiety interact and the possible links they share.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. Every year, anxiety affects about 40 million people in the U.S., or about 18% of the population. People with anxiety disorders also often have another mental illness diagnosis, like depression or a substance abuse disorder.
According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, as many as 20% of people with anxiety also meet the criteria for alcohol addiction. There is much debate over whether anxiety causes alcohol addiction or vice versa. Still, an indisputable fact is that a co-occurring diagnosis of anxiety and substance use disorder is more common than a singular diagnosis of anxiety.
Many people who begin suffering from anxiety use alcohol for relief from their symptoms, like paranoia and anxiety attacks. They may find it is easier to be in public and interact with others while intoxicated. However, a common issue for some people is anxiety after drinking, which sometimes occurs at a more intense level than before they'd started drinking in the first place.
This increased anxiety then causes them to drink more alcohol to continue feeling better, which builds their body's tolerance to alcohol. They need to drink more to feel the same effects, increasing their risk of developing an alcohol addiction. This becomes a cycle they find themselves unable or unwilling to escape without external support from others.
If you think you need assistance for alcohol addiction compounded by anxiety, it's essential to find a treatment plan that will help both of your concerns simultaneously. Receiving treatment for just substance abuse or an anxiety disorder may cause a relapse.
At Diamond House Detox, we understand how important it is for clients to receive simultaneous treatment for alcohol addiction and anxiety. That's why we offer dual diagnosis treatment at our Sacramento treatment center, where we have mental health professionals on staff who specialize in addiction. Call us or contact us online for confidential help with substance abuse and anxiety.