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Teen Anxiety and Substance Abuse

Drug use has declined among teens in the past ten years. But certain mental health conditions, like anxiety, have increased. Anxiety disorders among teens rose 20% between 2007 and 2012. With 1 out of every 3 of teens between the ages of 13 and 17, eventually developing an anxiety disorder, teen anxiety and substance abuse disorders are increasingly common. Substance abuse disorders and mental health conditions can cause disabling symptoms, especially if they are left untreated. Even though addiction and certain mental health disorders are chronic, meaning that there’s no known cure, they are treatable. Finding the right treatment allows young people to learn how to manage symptoms. Thus, they can live a stable and healthy life. Teen anxiety and substance abuse issues are strongly connected, as drugs and alcohol are commonly used to self medicate symptoms like anxiety.

Teen Anxiety and Substance Abuse

The reason teen anxiety and substance abuse disorders are linked because struggling with a mental health condition increases the risk of developing psychological or physical dependency. While drugs and alcohol may momentarily alleviate feelings of anxiety, substances ultimately aggravate mental health disorders. Addiction causes significant neurotransmitter imbalances. Often, mental health conditions link to neurotransmitter abnormalities. Thus, addiction can worsen mental health symptoms. Teen anxiety and substance abuse problems can create severe symptoms, as worsening anxiety symptoms can lead you to use more of your substance of choice to self-medicate. Another complication of teen anxiety and substance abuse disorders is that having a co-occurring condition makes recovery more difficult. The complex relationship between mental health and addiction means that dual diagnosis programs are necessary because recovery requires treating symptoms of both disorders to recover fully. Even if you are receiving treatment for an anxiety disorder while suffering from an addiction, substance abuse makes mental health medications ineffective. Taking medications for an anxiety disorder while abusing drugs can also increase your risk of experiencing an overdose.

Treating Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-occurring disorders can make recovery more difficult. Dual diagnosis programs focus on treating both mental health disorders and addiction. It’s imperative to treat symptoms of both disorders because declining mental health can cause you to relapse. Negative emotions, like anxiety, depression, and stress, are all common triggers. Triggers are people, places, or things that intensify cravings. While many triggers are avoidable, it’s important to develop healthy coping strategies because it’s impossible to isolate yourself from triggers completely. Dual diagnosis treatment centers use both evidence-based and holistic therapies to teach you how to identify and change negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Dual diagnosis treatment centers can also offer:

  • Medically supervised detox services
  • Short-term and long-term residential programs
  • Partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs
  • Individual, group, and family counseling
  • Discharge and aftercare planning
  • Relapse prevention education

Connecting with a Treatment Center Today

Teen anxiety and substance abuse can create a dangerous combination, as co-occurring conditions require dual diagnosis treatment. While it can be difficult to admit that you’re struggling to control your drug or alcohol use, reaching out for help is an important step in your recovery journey. To learn more about your treatment options, reach out to us today at 877.466.0620.