Anxiety during treatment

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Nicola Wallace

Clinical Manager

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Feelings of anxiety are very common during addiction treatment.

If you are feeling anxiety during early stages of treatment, you are not alone. Often, addiction and anxiety can occur together. This anxiety may have been present prior to the addiction itself and may have played a part in the very reason the substance use initially began; as a means of self-medicating or may have developed during the commencement of regular substance misuse.

This could mean the patient has a dual diagnosis of anxiety and addiction meaning treatment plans must acknowledge this within their approach to optimise the patients’ chance for a successful recovery.

In this blog, we will speak about why anxiety is common during treatment and how you can manage it along the way.

Stress about the unknown:
Your treatment will be a life transition, similar to if you were to move house or start a new job, except in this situation you will be able to look forward to getting back to a life where you are in control of your addiction.

There will be unknown factors along the way that can be scary, overwhelming and overall stress and anxiety inducing. These feelings may arise as you cannot foresee or plan for the future the way you may want to. To combat and manage this, we encourage focusing on the positive aspects and outcomes of the unknown. You will get through this, just like any other life transition.

Recovery:
Recovery is about learning how to live life not just without the use of substances or alcohol, but also how to deal with the range emotions and feelings we’ve been suppressing for years.

It also teaches us how to navigate challenging times. The same is true of anxiety: we have to learn how to live with feeling anxious without trying to avoid it.

Find new coping mechanisms:

Before you began your treatment, your addiction may have been your main coping mechanism.

When feeling stressed, upset, etc. you may have turned to your substance of choice, but now you are changing your habits and creating new, healthy mechanisms.

Think back to when you were younger. You may have had a teddy, or blanket, or something that gave you comfort and security. Eventually, you moved away from that comfort and found a new one – this is a similar transition.

It may feel overwhelming but leaning on a new support system and exploring your coping techniques will help you to form and promote healthy new habits and routines.

Transitioning to a new support system:
Support systems are another area of your life that may be changing during your treatment.

As a part of your treatment, you may begin to distance yourself from certain people, places, etc. You may also be building trust with new members of your support system, such as your therapist, friends, or others that are helping you along your journey.

It may be some time before you feel like your new environment supports you, but over time you will begin to feel grounded and secure were you are.

Coping with anxiety during treatment:
Hopefully you will begin to have a better understanding of what may be contributing to your feelings of anxiety and therefore can begin to find ways to ease and overcome it. Acceptance of feelings of anxiety is a step forward.

Your therapist and care team will be able to point out some relief strategies that will be personalised to you during your treatment and beyond.

At The Bonds Clinic our highly qualified experts are able to deliver specialist treatment for your co-occurring anxiety, empowering you to overcome your symptoms, identify the triggers for your anxious thoughts, and learn healthy coping mechanisms for the future.

Ultimately, our aim is to help you to tackle both your anxiety and your addiction, and take steps towards the healthy, happy and fulfilling life that you deserve.