Often, the reason people start abusing drugs and alcohol is to cope in times of high emotional distress, such as intense feelings of anxiety, without knowledge of other ways to manage stress levels. The problem is that using drugs or alcohol as a coping tool for anxiety creates a substance dependence.
According to the American Psychological Association, Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure.
People with anxiety disorders usually have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. They may avoid certain situations out of worry. They may also have physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, dizziness, or a rapid heartbeat.
The Cyclic Effect
Anxiety and abuse create a very destructive cycle. When people use, they reset the homeostasis in their brains or, in other words, set a new “normal” for their bodies. The more chemicals that are pumped into the body, the less natural chemicals the body produces on its own, thus creating a dependency on the artificial chemicals provided by the drugs.
So each time a person uses, his or her normal is reset and a dependency on the drugs to manage anxiety is created. In this way, anxiety and abuse create a cyclical, or circular, effect that continues to build on itself.
The Next Steps
Substance abuse virtually always begins with social drug use that eventually develops into serious dependencies. Often, by the time clients come into Turning Point, they are at the point where they need help and don’t feel like they can continue the way they have been.
As in all cases, Turning Point is an abstinence-based program, meaning we require patients to cease any drug use. We know this can be frightening because often addicts feel that they won’t be able to manage anxiety levels without substance abuse. It won’t be an easy path, but at Turning Point, we have other tactics and management techniques to help while the body adjusts to healthy levels where it’s producing it’s own chemicals to keep regulated.
The Healing Process
The brain can fully recuperate from a dependency like this given enough time. It takes about 6 months to a year for the brain and body to return to it’s normal self-regulating chemical production. Some patients begin to feel better in a month or two as we help them cope with the anxiety levels.
To see if Turning Point is the right facility for you or to find a facility to work best with your needs, contact us today.