This is the second most common disorder among people who experience addiction. Some people are nervous, tense, and anxious most of the time. At the slightest provocation, they experience waves of fear or worry. This chronic state of tension and feeling on edge is exhausting to them and is known as generalized anxiety disorder (Frances, & First, 1998).
Anxiety is a common side effect of stimulants, caffeine, diet pills, cocaine, and speed. The more drugs you use, the higher the risk of experiencing generalized anxiety disorder. As with panic attacks, substances that depress the central nervous system like alcohol, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and narcotics cause anxiety when they are withdrawn or stopped. Prescription medications are also common causes of anxiety, particularly antidepressant medication.
The treatment for generalized anxiety disorder is anti-anxiety medication and cognitive behavioral therapy. They are sometimes used together. Many people with generalized anxiety disorder also have depression and need treatment for both disorders.
Because people who have had the experience of addiction are at higher risk for anxiety disorders, it is important for you to assess your feelings of anxiety and take action to reduce your risk of relapse. Self-assessment tools for anxiety are readily available. When in doubt consult your physician or a mental health professional. The coping skills to manage anxiety are very similar to those for depression. Healthy sleep, diet, and exercise are very helpful. Learning relaxation and distraction techniques are also helpful. Learning the basic symptoms of anxiety disorders, recognizing the symptoms, obtaining an assessment, and taking action are all part of your quality relapse prevention plan.
For both depression and anxiety, “The Feeling Good Handbook” by Dr. David Burns has excellent simple assessment tools, exercises and strategies to reduce anxiety and depression. Even if you don’t have the experience of depression or anxiety, the tools in Dr. Burns’ book are helpful for managing the daily negative emotional stressors that can lead to lapse or relapse if left unmanaged or unacknowledged.