Anxiety Disorders and Addiction
Anxiety disorders afflict more Americans than any other type of mental illness. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 18 percent of adults in the U.S. suffer from some form of anxiety disorder.
Almost everybody feels anxious at some point in their life, whether it be before a test, presentation, competitive event, etc. However, somebody with an anxiety disorder will have their life interrupted every so often with overwhelming stress, worry, fear or uneasiness. These extreme feelings will often seep in ahead of a major event or uncertain outcome in the person’s life.
Stats and Facts About the Relationship Between Drugs, Alcohol and Anxiety
It’s not uncommon for someone to misuse drugs or alcohol as a means of trying to suppress their symptoms of anxiety. Here are some alarming stats and facts to keep in mind when talking about anxiety and substance abuse, and how the two often go hand in hand:
- The lifetime prevalence rate of anxiety is 28.8 percent, while the substance abuse rate is 14.6 percent. This means that nearly 30 percent of the population has suffered from anxiety, while about 15 percent has suffered from substance abuse.
- The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that people with anxiety are twice as likely as the general population to struggle with substance abuse.
- Both anxiety and substance abuse may be linked to chemical imbalances in the brain, such as low serotonin.
- Nearly 15 million American adults suffer from social anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, while about 9 percent of American adults will experience a specific phobia within any 12-month period, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH).
- Women are 60 percent more likely than men to experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lifetime.
- Hispanics are 30 percent less likely than non-Hispanic whites to suffer from an anxiety disorder during their lifetime, according to the NIH. Non-Hispanic African-Americans are 20 percent less likely than non-Hispanic whites to experience an anxiety disorder.
- Nearly 23 percent of anxiety disorder cases are classified as “severe,” according to the NIH.
- Misusing drugs or alcohol can cause symptoms that are reminiscent of those of anxiety, such as sleeplessness, irritability, irrational fears and nervousness.