Anxiety and Painkillers | Aid in Recovery
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Anxiety and Painkillers Are a Dangerous Combination

Do painkillers make anxiety worse wooden figure slumped over.

Anxiety is a disorder that affects millions of people in America and around the world. Although every one of us experiences some level of anxiety in our daily lives, someone with an anxiety disorder is debilitated by clinical anxiety. This type of anxiety causes a serious disruption to the overall health and well-being of the person with the diagnosis – so much so that it interferes with their daily life.
People with an anxiety disorder can be affected to the point that they cannot sustain a full-time job. Others discover that anxiety does not allow them to be an attentive parent or partner. No matter what the circumstances, anxiety can cause incredibly negative consequences for those who suffer from the condition.

Different Types of Anxiety

It is important to understand that there are several different types of anxiety disorders. Here are just a few:

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

That’s right, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety condition. Although most people associate PTSD with combat veterans, anyone who experiences a significant trauma can experience PTSD. Those with PTSD relive terrorizing flashbacks of a traumatic event. As a result, they experience extreme anxiety.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder affects approximately 6.8 million adults in the U.S. – 3.1% of the population. This type of anxiety is characterized by excessive worry and general anxiety for no explicit reason. People with GAD say they are exhausted with worry about everything, all the time. This type of worry can be anything from an irrational fear of germs to a consistent fear of a car accident or even anxiety about sudden death.

Panic Disorder

Someone who has been diagnosed with Panic Disorder experiences seemingly random and abrupt panic attacks or anxiety episodes. Unlike GAD, this kind of extreme anxiety comes and goes and is not persistent. People who have Panic Disorder report that a panic attack makes them feel like they are going to die at any moment.

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Treatment for Anxiety

There are a number of ways to treat the various types of anxiety disorders we have described. The most common way to treat anxiety is with medication, which is among the many problems with our current system of treatment for mental illness and disorders. Instead of first exploring alternative treatment methods for anxiety, most people will be prescribed some type of medication if they seek treatment from a medical doctor.
Although medication can be very helpful in treating anxiety, it is not the only way to treat the condition. In fact, it should be the last resort. What often happens is that doctors tend to prescribe drugs like benzodiazepines (Xanax, for example), which can then create an entirely different monster – prescription medication addiction.

Addiction and Anxiety

All too often, people with anxiety disorders will abuse prescription pain medication to manage their condition. Sometimes, they will abuse their own legally prescribed medication, but in other cases, people with anxiety will turn to painkillers to cope with their symptoms. This is unfortunate, because painkillers never effectively treat anxiety – they will only make it worse. Drugs like Morphine, Fentanyl, Hydrocodone, and Oxycodone are designed to treat physical pain – NOT mental conditions. These drugs can never substitute for proper anxiety medication or anxiety treatment.
Sadly, people who have an anxiety disorder often become addicted to painkillers because they are seeking a way to numb the pain of the condition. Initially, painkillers provide this type of relief. Opioids create a calming, feel-good sensation in the brain, which communicates that feeling to the body. This experience tricks the brain into believing the anxiety has subsided. The body responds with a sense of relaxation.
The crux of the problem is that the brain quickly builds up a tolerance to pain medication. It needs more and more pills to give the body the same effect it used to get from just one pill. The cycle of addiction begins and anxiety symptoms begin to increase. Because painkillers are so highly addictive, the cycle of addiction will inevitably continue. This naturally causes anxiety to progress ten-fold because addiction causes anxiety in the brain.
In the end, addiction and anxiety will win without outside help. The body will become physically dependent on painkillers – it will need them to survive. If the mind is not getting proper help and treatment, it will continue to manufacture high levels of stress and anxiety because of the underlying disorder.

At this point, someone with an anxiety disorder and a substance abuse problem is considered a “dual-diagnosis.”

Dual-Diagnosis, and How it is Treated

When someone has a mental condition and an addiction to drugs or alcohol, he or she is categorized as having a dual diagnosis. Anxiety and substance abuse, together, equals Dual Diagnosis. To treat a dual diagnosis, the person must first detox from drugs and alcohol. Only then can he or she address the anxiety disorder. In many cases, someone with a dual-diagnosis will need to check themselves into an inpatient addiction treatment facility that specializes in dual-diagnosis.

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