What are the unique challenges in treating someone with an anxiety disorder and a substance use disorder?
There are unique challenges in treating someone with an anxiety disorder and a substance use disorder. I have personal experience with someone who had an anxiety disorder. She used to have panic attacks on a regular basis. If she had a few drinks, she would not have a panic attack The drinks would help her relax. She would also take xanex on a regular basis. The xanex or alcohol was a way to self-medicate. Therefore, after the medication would wear off, the anxiety would surface. Often times, the anxiety would be worse than it was prior to drinking alcohol. I also had to take this woman to the emergency room several times because she literally thought that she was dying. When I would take her to the emergency room, the doctors would look at her like she was crazy. She was obviously not the first person that came to the emergency room due to a panic attack. It is so interesting how a person can actually think that they are going to die even though everything is perfectly okay.
When treating someone with both anxiety and a substance abuse disorder, both disorders need to be treated. The client could have resorted to self-medicating the anxiety, which in-turn could have caused the substance use disorder. Or the substance use disorder could have caused the anxiety disorder.