A woman with anxiety stands next to a series of flowers

One of the many unfortunate realities of addiction and alcoholism is that suffers often times also have a mental health issue as well. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) report that approximately 4 million Americans suffering from a mental health issue also suffer from a co-occurring substance abuse issue. (1)

Here we take a look at one mental health issue which often times goes hand-in-hand with addiction: anxiety disorders.

What are anxiety disorders?

Anxiety is defined as a temporary worry or fear that one feels. Everyone experiences anxiety to some degree as a normal part of life. For some people, however, anxiety can be a A woman bites her nails alongside a series of pillsconstant problem.

Anxiety is considered an anxiety disorder when it affects normal everyday life tasks in a negative way. The following are the most common types of anxiety disorders (2):

  • Generalized anxiety disorder – which is defined as having anxiety about several aspects of life that occurs throughout the day for a period of six months.
  • Panic disorder – which is defined by having recurrent and unexpected panic attacks
  • Phobia – Phobias are defined as having fear or aversion to certain situations or objects

What is the connection of anxiety disorders with addiction?

Many people who suffer from mental illnesses turn to drugs and/or alcohol to manage their symptoms. This is known as self-medication, and is often cited as a potential source of substance abuse disorder.

A 2004 study sought to find the prevalence of substance abuse disorder in those who suffered from an anxiety disorder. The study found that the correlation between anxiety disorders and the development of a substance abuse disorder was “overwhelmingly positive and significant”. (3)

So what does this mean?

The reality is that many people who suffer from a substance abuse disorder will also suffer from one or more other mental health issue. This is known as dual-diagnosis. It is crucial to deal with both the substance abuse issue and the mental health issue at the same time, rather than separately.

True Recovery

If you or a loved one is suffering from both an addiction and mental health issues, it is crucial to find a treatment center that specializes in dual diagnosis treatment. Studies have concluded that those with anxiety disorders and substance abuse disorders would likely have the best outcome if both illnesses were treated simultaneously. (3)

Final Note

This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.


  1. https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disorders
  2. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml
  3. Khantzian E.J. (2003). “The self-medication hypothesis revisited: The dually diagnosed patient”. Primary Psychiatry. 10: 47–48, 53–54.