Mental health disorders and addiction very often go hand in hand, and heroin addiction is commonly diagnosed as co-occurring with an anxiety disorder. Whether panic disorder, PTSD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or another type of anxiety disorder, many patients find solace in the use of illicit substances that are sedative in their effect, like heroin.
Unfortunately, the existence of two serious conditions like heroin dependence and an anxiety disorder can add up to an intense experience both in addiction and in treatment, and it can make it even more difficult for families to stage a successful intervention. If you need assistance putting together an intervention for your loved one, contact us today.
Heroin and Anxiety: The Connection
Dealing with anxiety symptoms can be overwhelming. Many patients know that their fears are not necessarily logical yet they cannot stop themselves from experiencing panic attacks, phobic thoughts, and compulsive behaviors in such a way that it impedes their ability to live a normal and balanced life.
As a result, many patients turn to illicit substances for immediate relief of their symptoms. Some choose alcohol or marijuana. Some choose prescription drugs; painkillers and benzodiazepines are often used for their calming effect.
With the huge upswing in painkiller abuse that occurred over the last decade, the implementation of stronger regulations limiting the prescription of these drugs made it difficult for those who had developed a dependence upon them to continue to feed their addiction. Many turned to heroin in order to stave off withdrawal symptoms and manage the underlying anxiety issues that they were originally trying to quell through drug use.
Dealing with Anxiety During Detox
Anxiety is often a fierce issue for patients during heroin detox, even if they did not live with an anxiety disorder prior to the onset of heroin addiction. Additionally, anger and depression can be overwhelming emotions, according to a study published in The International Journal of the Addictions.
Because these kinds of emotions often increase the cravings for heroin, it is recommended that patients enroll in a rehab program that offers extensive therapeutic intervention and treatment for any and all mental health symptoms, and directed and intensive treatment if a mental health disorder is involved. For example, anxiety may be experienced as a result of being without the sedation that comes with using an opiate drug like heroin and may pass in time – or it may be an ongoing problem that requires extensive treatment. In either case, professional therapy is helpful, and it should come from an expert who is well-versed in the intricacies of how heroin dependence and anxiety can become intertwined.
Treating Anxiety Disorder for the Long Term
It has become increasingly more common for substance abuse treatment programs to recognize that co-occurring disorders should be treated together. Before staging an intervention, families are encouraged to research and contact an effective treatment program that has the resources to address both the addiction issue and the mental health disorder.
Your loved one’s journey into recovery can start today. Contact us now to find out how we can assist you in the process of staging an intervention. We’re here to help.
David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.
Reviewed by: Kim Chin and Marian Newton