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Could Anxiety Be A Better Predictor Of Alcoholism?

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Home QA Could Anxiety Be A Better Predictor Of Alcoholism?


Anxiety in all of it’s forms is often closely related to addiction and alcoholism. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness among adults in America and a popularly co-occurring disorder with substance use disorders. Turning to alcohol to cope with anxiety is common. Anxiety, which produces stimulation in the system, is calmed down by alcohol, which is a depressant. According to a recent study published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, anxiety proves to be a great predictor of alcohol abuse than stress.

Stress and anxiety are often confused as one can cause the other and vice versa. However, stress and anxiety are not the same. Though both include the hormone cortisol and other physical stress responses, anxiety and stress do not act the same way in the brain. Researchers also chose to examine anxiety sensitivity. Different from anxiety itself, anxiety sensitivity is having anxiety about anxiety, specifically the sensations which come with anxiety. Eventually, anxiety sensitivity turns into anxiety itself.

For the study, researchers chose participants who had a clinically demonstrated history of alcohol abuse. The existing predisposition toward alcohol abuse helped the researchers determine if anxiety or stress had the greatest effect in causing cravings for alcohol. “Participants who had higher levels of anxiety sensitivity were more likely to drink heavily and to score higher on clinical measures of alcohol addiction. Those with high levels of anxiety drank less, but scored higher on other measures of alcoholism,” Good Therapy reports. Anxiety as well as anxiety sensitivity created more cravings for alcohol. In addition, higher levels of cortisol also showed a direct relationship to high anxiety during early withdrawal from alcohol, meaning that cortisol plays a part in cravings and detox.

The Role Of Treatment In Anxiety And Alcoholism

Anxiety is essentially the brain run riot on fear. The brain learns patterns of fear and response which trigger the fight or flight system which anxiety takes running. Problematically, when alcohol becomes part of that pattern the brain cannot experience fight or flight without experiencing cravings for alcohol. Anxiety is helped by many of the therapeutic methods used during treatment. Most evidence based practices for treatment are chosen because of their ability to reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety. Managing anxiety and alcoholism concurrently provides for effective lifelong recovery.

There is hope in recovery. Find it with us at Design For Change. Offering a refuge to addicts, our long term residential treatment programs are designed to help clients change their lives one step at a time. For more information, call (877) 267-3646.

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