Paul Kerry , who write for an addiction publication in the UK called Ocean Recovery, has  written a comprehensive article explaining the link between addiction and anxiety.  Kerry shared that it’s rare for an addiction to materialise from thin air. Instead, addiction is usually caused by deeper psychiatric issues such as anxiety and depression. In this way, the addict uses drugs or alcohol as a way of escaping from the negative thoughts and feelings attached to depression and anxiety. This is known as ‘self-medicating’ with drugs and alcohol.

In this post, Mr. Kelly specifically focus on anxiety and addiction and shares that if the above is true, one might conclude that those who suffer from addiction are not really addicted to substances at all. Moreover, sufferers are actually addicted to the ‘escape’ that’s achieved from their ‘reality’ when drugs and alcohol are consumed.

The signs of anxiety

This ‘escape’ is from the negative thoughts and feelings that are associated with anxiety. These thoughts and feelings include:

  • Fear
  • Terror
  • Paranoia
  • Obsessive thoughts
  • Phobia
  • Discomfort
  • Panic

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The symptoms of anxiety may vary greatly between different people, so it’s essential you are assessed by a psychiatrist or other qualified individual before a valid diagnosis can be made. For instance, if you suffer from anxiety attacks, the treatment you will receive will differ compared to someone who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The escape theory of addiction

Drugs and alcohol are the methods of escape, although other methods of escape may arise. These methods could include gambling, playing computer games, paying for sex or spending lots of money on clothes. These addictive behaviours allow the addict to surreptitiously escape negative emotions so that a more comforting ‘reality’ may be experienced.

Heightened anxiety may develop due to genetic reasons. Also, anxiety may be heightened when the sufferer has experienced a traumatic event, particularly during childhood. Drugs and alcohol are then used to combat anxiety.

In fact, even people who do not suffer from clinical anxiety may drink alcohol or use drugs to alleviate milder symptoms of anxiety. This may be why many of us choose to drink alcohol at weekends. Following a busy week of work, having nothing to do at the weekend may generate anxiety, causing many of us to drink moderate amounts of alcohol.

Furthermore, many of us experience anxiety due to the amount of stress generated from modern living. You may enjoy an ‘after work drink’ to help you alleviate anxiety from your life. You thus begin to view substance misuse as a kind of reward for all the hard work you have been doing during the day.

For many people suffering from clinical anxiety, the situation becomes more exaggerated. These sufferers often see drugs and alcohol as their ‘go to’ solution for coping with anxiety. This is why many people refer to addiction as a form of ‘self-medication’.

Dependency develops when drugs and alcohol are repeatedly used to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety. Drug and alcohol use are thus positively reinforced, and it’s then extremely difficult for the addict to ‘give up’ the addiction without suffering from a range of psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms.

Generally, the more anxiety you experience, the more you will want to engage in drug and alcohol use. This explains why those of us who suffer from clinical anxiety are far more likely to develop alcoholism or drug addiction. However, this is a vicious cycle because substance misuse is known to aggravate anxiety. This is known as ‘rebound anxiety’. This means sufferers are trapped in the cycle of trying to alleviate their anxiety, whilst simultaneously aggregating the symptoms of anxiety.

Unfortunately, many people suffering from addiction are completely oblivious to the fact that anxiety is to blame. When you attend addiction treatment, you are taught to recognise anxiety so you may gain a better understanding of the mechanism that gives rise to your addiction.

Since anxiety is a major cause of addiction, it follows that treating underlying anxiety is an effective way of treating the addiction. The approach is thus to treat the causes of addiction, not the symptoms. According to this school of thought, addiction is merely the symptom of anxiety.

During addiction treatment, you will benefit from counselling that helps you understand, recognise and process your emotions so that your de facto response is not to consume alcohol or drugs to cope with these emotions.

Anxiety therapy – Cognitive behaviour therapy

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is a highly effective form of dual diagnosis treatment for anxiety disorder. CBT is effective for treating a range of anxiety disorders such as social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobias and generalised anxiety disorder.

CBT seeks to alter the underlying thoughts and feelings that power anxiety disorder. Specifically, CBT helps us to address distortions in how we view ourselves and the wider world. CBT also helps you develop healthier ways to manage thoughts and feelings that are attached to anxiety. These are known as ‘coping strategies’.

CBT consists of two central approaches. The first approach is behavioural therapy. Behavioural therapy helps you understand how you react to situations that cause your anxiety. Cognitive therapy helps you understand how negative thoughts contribute to anxiety.

CBT assumes that thoughts affect our feelings and thoughts are not affected by the physical situation we find ourselves in. It’s internal perception, rather than the external reality that causes negative thoughts and hence the anxiety.

CBT helps you to identify, deconstruct and reframe distorted beliefs and thoughts so you may continue to live your life without resorting to substance misuse. If you alter the manner in which you think, you can also alter how you feel.

One way CBT achieves this aim is through a process known as cognitive restructuring. This is also known as thought challenging. Here, you are encouraged to identify and then challenge negative thoughts. You are then encouraged to replace these thoughts with positive alternatives that are closer to reality. For instance, anxiety disorder causes the sufferer to perceive situations as more dangerous than they actually are.

CBT sessions ask you to identify what you are thinking when these irrational fears are experienced. You will then be asked to assess the evidence that supports these irrational fears. You will be asked to conduct experiments and look for evidence/counter-evidence that tests the validity of these assumptions your fears are built up. Once you have mapped out negative thoughts and their associated distortions, the therapist will then help you replace them with positive and more accurate alternatives.

Below, we provide a summary of cognitive restructuring:

  1. Identify negative and irrational thoughts and predictions, and their associated cognitive distortions
  2. Look at the evidence that supports or refutes these distortions
  3. Replace these thoughts with healthier alternatives that are more aligned with reality

Exposure therapy and anxiety

Another form of addiction treatment is known as exposure therapy. Situations that trigger anxiety are likely to be avoided. Some situations are impossible to avoid. This means you must learn to cope with these situations and cope in ways that do not involve the consumption of drugs or alcohol. Exposure therapy is about exposing you to the situations that trigger your anxiety. Through the repetition of exposure, you will gain a degree of control over these anxiety triggers. This usually weakens the anxiety-producing effect of these triggers.

During exposure therapy, you are asked to either imagine the anxiety-triggering situation, or you will confront the situation in real-life. Exposure therapy is seldom used in isolation. It is usually employed as part of a wider CBT programme.

Another variation of exposure therapy is known as systematic desensitisation. You begin by exposing yourself to a situation that’s mildly anxiety-producing, and then work your way up to the most anxiety-producing situation slowly and over time. This allows you to challenge your anxiety in a gradual fashion.

Medications to treat anxiety

Another solution is to treat sufferers with medication. Effective drugs known to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). These drugs allow sufferers to live a productive life without drugs and alcohol. These drugs are particularly useful for those who suffer from panic anxiety disorder.

About This Article

This article was written by Paul Kerry at Ocean Recovery Centre.

Ocean Recovery Centre offers alcohol rehab in Manchester. For more information, contact them here.

No matter where you live, there is a drug rehab center that can help you overcome your addiction. To  find a treatment center based on your location, budget and specific needs, go to   Drug Rehab

Addiction Treatment in Illinois

The town of Lombard,where the concept of Healthy Lombard began in 2009, is located in the state of Illinois.  Therefore we are pleased that the Addition Center has taken time and resources to identify specific avenue of help for individuals in our state.  Did you know that iIn 2013, over 33,000 people in Illinois checked into rehab or sought some other form of treatment for their addiction. The drugs most commonly abused by Illinoisans include heroinmarijuanaalcohol and crack.

From high-end, private residential centers to state-funded rehab, Illinois has treatment for people from all backgrounds with any addiction. To learn more, click here.

A Vision Focused on Quality

Addiction Center was founded by recovering addicts and health information writers. Our goal is to provide the most up-to-date information on addiction as well as reviews of top treatment centers across the country.

Addiction Center is owned and funded by Recovery Worldwide LLC, an organization that creates informational web properties on health and mental health-related topics. We are not a treatment center, but our network of centers across the country aims to provide outlets for people seeking help.

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Addiction Center guides people struggling with SUDs and their families toward the care they need. If you would like to get in touch with there team for any reason, they can be reached here.

Addiction Center’s Mission Statement

Addiction Center’s principles are key to guiding the content they create and the services they offer. They believe that by following these ethical standards, Addiction Center will be the first step toward recovery and a rejuvenated life for many people.

The core motivation of Addiction Center is to serve our audience in a way that puts them first. To focus on the needs of those struggling with addiction in the most personally beneficial way possible. This motivation, the goal of saving lives, pushes us to create an ever-expanding audience. The more people we can reach, the stronger our message will be.

It is also their goal to create a medium where those in the addiction community can come together. By building a soapbox on which those who have struggled with addiction can stand and voice their stories, opinions and goals, they aim to make a considerable dent on the international addiction crisis.

Our Pledge To You


The team at Addiction Center hasn’t gone unscathed by the torments of addiction; we’ve experienced it either personally or through family and friends. We recognize that everyone has their own story, facing hurdles that may be hard to fathom. With this in mind, we never impose our personal views on our users. We are compassionate and understanding to anyone who crosses our path.


Addiction Center believes there is an implicit obligation of specificity and relevance to anyone who comes to our website. We take our duty seriously by treating each page as a life and death matter. We recognize that each tidbit of information we provide is a chance to change someone’s life forever. Therefore, we continuously strive to refine our content to the highest levels of effectiveness and accuracy.


We are committed to presenting all the facts about addictions and various substances to give our audience a well-rounded knowledge of the journey ahead. We research each topic meticulously and strive to present that information in an easy-to-digest fashion. We always question the authority of our sources to ensure the most up-to-date and accurate information. Testing the accuracy of information from our sources through comparison to other sources is essential.


In keeping with our obligation to our users, we understand that the quality of our services can determine the difference between a user deciding to continue down the path of destruction or to seek help. We keep explanations simple and direct to avoid over-complication or misconstrued ideas. Our goal in this respect is to ensure users fully understand the material before them.


Addiction Center is, and always will be, an independent venture designed to help those afflicted with addiction choose recovery. We value our independence because it affords us the ability to treat our users as the individuals they are and maintain rigorous objectivity in our content. We aren’t affiliated with any other organizations who seek to impose their values on us. We understand that remaining independent is imperative to effectively serve our community.


Alcohol Addiction Center is a free, web-based resource helping to bring education and information to the world of alcohol addiction. It is our hope that with increased awareness, more and more people will get help with their alcohol problems.

They have a very comprehensive alcohol use disorder resource site located at:

and cover topics such as:

  • Alcoholism/Alcohol Use Disorder
  • Authorities on Alcoholism
  • Free Alcoholism Resources
  • Statistics on Alcoholism
  • Alcohol and Substance Abuse at Work
  • Campus Alcoholism Resources
  • Resources for Parents
  • Top Ten Tips for Getting Help for Yourself or a Loved One

Alcohol Rehab Guide (ARG) is an organization that provides comprehensive, reliable information on the various aspects of alcohol abuse and addiction. We offer support and guidance for those who are struggling, as well as their parents, family members, friends, health workers and community members.

ARG is owned and funded by Recovery Worldwide, LLC, an organization that delivers web-based information on health and mental health-related topics. While we are not a treatment facility, we work with a wide range of healthcare professionals and recovery programs.

ARG is dedicated to helping people overcome alcoholism and achieve long-term sobriety. Our team is made up of individuals who have personal experience with alcohol addiction, and understand the importance of delivering top-notch resources and information. That was our inspiration. ARG aims to educate people on the dangers of alcohol addiction and guide them or their loved one into a treatment program.

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The ARG team strives to raise awareness about those most susceptible to alcohol abuse: adolescents, college students, adults, individuals with mental health disorders and veterans. Roughly 240 million people around the globe are dependent on alcohol. Our goal is to help reduce the number of individuals affected by the dangers of alcohol abuse.

If you’re ready to seek help for alcoholism, we’re here to help. Get in touch with us today to start on your journey to a lasting recovery.