Author: Justin Mckibben
As someone who struggles with anxiety, I can understand the desire to find something that can help protect yourself from haunting feelings of dread that cripple your peace of mind. Anxiety is a complicated condition that can creep in from the most unexpected places, and people experience it in many different ways. While some may think it’s based in fear or weakness, the reality is far more complex. Those people may say all you need to overcome anxiety is a more grounded and positive outlook. But the truth for most people with an anxiety disorder is that battling anxiety goes a lot deeper than promoting optimism. Especially when your condition convinces you that all levity is just you lying to yourself. Sometimes, you need a little outside help, and anti-anxiety drugs can be very useful when a physician and an individual decide on the right route to take.
However, anti-anxiety medications can also be dangerous. These anti-anxiety drugs may not be in the spotlight the way opioids are, they are commonly abused, extremely addictive and can be just as lethal.
With recent reports showing a rise in deaths associated with anti-anxiety medications, some experts are saying there is a hidden epidemic being overshadowed by the opioid crisis.
Anti-Anxiety Drugs Underestimated
It is true that opioids are doing massive damage all across the country, but that doesn’t mean the death rates due to anti-anxiety drugs should be ignored. While focusing on prescription opioids, heroin and synthetic opioids is important, we should also keep in mind the other dangerous medications out there.
The usual suspects are benzodiazepines, which include drugs like:
While these anti-anxiety drugs may be useful in helping some people, they still carry their risks, which can be devastating and even lethal.
According to the director of the Scripps Mercy Hospital emergency department Dr. Roneet Lev, benzodiazepines are responsible for more drug deaths in San Diego County than people may expect. She says,
“That comes from people who come into our trauma center from car accidents because they’re on benzodiazepines, people who come in because they’re falling down because that affects their balance and coordination on benzodiazepines,”
“We’ve seen terrible withdrawals, when they’re used to having it, with seizures, that end up in the ICU.”
And it isn’t just people who are buying these drugs off the street. Concerning drug-related deaths by legal prescriptions, benzodiazepines are not as far behind opioids as people may think. Dr. Lev adds that while oxycodone is the number one prescribed drug associated with death, hydrocodone is second, and benzodiazepine is in third place.
But San Diego County is definitely not the only area experiencing a surge in benzodiazepine-related deaths. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), deaths involving these anti-anxiety drugs have more than quadrupled between 2002 and 2015.
Something that does make these medications even more treacherous is when they are mixed with opioids.
Mixing Meds Causing More Deaths
As if opioids or anti-anxiety drugs weren’t hazardous enough on their own, the fact that many people mix these two medications makes them even more deadly. The San Diego County Medical Examiner has concluded that 83% of benzodiazepine-related deaths also involved opioids. Nathan Painter is an associate professor in pharmacy at UC San Diego. He explains how the chemicals interact with the body, and how mixing them only amplifies these effects.
“The benzodiazepines themselves can cause respiratory depression, or your breathing slow down, and so can opioids. So when you combine them, especially in the case of not using them on a regular basis, or being new to the benzo or the opioid, if you give too much, or combine it with other things like alcohol or other medications, then it can cause that breathing to slow down, or even stop.”
What could make this even worse? Well, many of the people mixing these medications may have just been following instructions as prescribed by their doctor. Painter notes that sometimes the prescribing physicians aren’t necessarily aware of all the drugs that someone is taking, and may not be as conservative or as slow in starting the medicines as they could be. So some people may be unknowingly consuming dangerous amounts of these drugs.
Sadly, there are areas of our current culture that put people at elevated risk of death by anti-anxiety drugs.
One of the more vulnerable populations is our veterans. In fact, the Veterans Association Healthcare System has to deal with the issue of mixing medications in particular, as many veterans end up using both benzodiazepines and opioids. Dr. James Michelsen is a physician at the VA. According to Michelsen,
“Anxiety related to their combat time, problems with sleep, post-traumatic stress disorder. And traditionally these conditions benzodiazepines have been used to treat. Additionally, many of our veterans came back with physical wounds, as well.”
This becomes a serious issue when there is a lack of communication between networks of doctors, which can happen if a veteran visits a non-VA doctor and receives a prescription.
It’s not just veterans and hospitals that have problems with benzodiazepines. In fact, benzodiazepines are some of the most prescribed medications in the United States. But it has gone beyond that and even made it into pop culture.
Drugs have always been part of the music industry. History shows us how hallucinogens like LSD influenced rock like the Beetles, and how cocaine coexisted with disco, or how heroin lingered along with jazz and blues over the years. It’s still hard to find a country song that doesn’t glorify good ol’ boys with whiskey and beer. Now, pill-popping in hip-hop and pop music is so mainstream it can be unsettling.
Along with that spotlight came greater influence. Some musicians try to paint that pretty picture with abusing anti-anxiety medications, but these drugs have taken the lives of some of the great artists of a generation. In the last several years alone we lost:
There are even others like Chris Cornell, who’s wife believed that the anti-anxiety medication he was taking is partly to blame for his suicide. Even with all the death caused by these drugs, some still glamourize prescription drug abuse in our culture. Not to mention the issue of mental health and substance use disorders already growing across the country.
Fighting Anxiety and Addiction
Personally, the risks involved with anti-anxiety drugs is troubling because a lot of my anxiety is rooted in health. It manifests at times in the side-effects of even the most mundane of medicines. Some days I can’t take an Aspirin without a secret part of me wondering if my kidneys will shut-down (which is ironic considering the years I spent polluting my body with hard drugs and excessive drinking). So while everything is going fine on the outside, my inner dialog is trying to measure and analyze every muscle movement or twitch as an indication of a terminal illness.
In reality, anti-anxiety drugs can be the difference between an everyday struggle to endure the rush of nameless terror and a window into serenity and stability. For people who can take advantage of the opportunity, it can be life-changing.
However, these drugs are nothing to take lightly, and plenty of people develop severe addictions to these drugs. Anti-anxiety medications can be fatal. Some might think they are an easy way to get a rush, they can be just as lethal as opioids. Just because they are not painkillers doesn’t mean we should underestimate their capacity to do harm.
Fighting anxiety is extremely important for people with anxiety disorder. But we have to remember the risks that come with these drugs and find a way to stay safe. This is especially true for those of us in recovery from addiction. Dual diagnosis treatment is a way to create comprehensive and holistic recovery that addresses both anxiety and addiction simultaneously in order to help people overcome their anxiety in the healthiest way possible.
If you or someone you love is struggling with anxiety, or any mental health disorder, please seek help. If you struggle with substance use disorder, drugs or alcohol is not the answer. There is real help out there. Please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Shernide Delva
The truth about using alcohol as a coping mechanism for anxiety will shock you. The reality is alcohol is a negative coping strategy. While many turn to consuming alcohol to deal with stress and anxiety, it offers only a temporary relief. In the long run, the withdrawals from excessive alcohol consumption heighten stress and anxiety, instead of resolving them.
If you have ever been a binge drinker before, you know the feeling. After a night of drinking, you wake up with a hangover. Except the hangover is not just a migraine or bout of nausea, it is the overwhelming feeling of anxiety. The condition is called “alcohol-induced anxiety” and occurs typically after heavy drinking. Some like to call it an “anxiety hangover.” You start to contemplate your life, and the feelings of despair can become so overwhelming that some turn back to consuming alcohol to relieve themselves of their worst symptoms. Over time, it becomes a nasty cycle.
Instead of turning to a temporary coping strategy, you need an anxiety solution. You must approach tackling anxiety head-first. Read more to discover the cause and solutions.
Alcohol and the Causes of Anxiety
The interesting thing about alcohol withdrawal is that it can cause anxiety on its own. Even if you do not struggle with anxiety, you can find yourself in an anxious ball after binge drinking. Alcohol-induced anxiety is already a problem by itself, but imagine the effect if you already have pre-existing anxiety. Those who struggle with an anxiety disorder will find their anxiety worsens after consuming alcohol. After the initial relief, symptoms return at high intensity.
There are various reasons why this occurs. Here are a few:
– Excitable Central Nervous System
Your central nervous system controls your entire body, and when your body goes through alcohol withdrawal, your brain starts firing all sorts of neurotransmitters and chemicals. Your brain gets excited by the presence of alcohol. Continual heavy drinking puts stress on your brain function which ultimately increases anxiety.
– Fear of the Withdrawal Symptoms
The fear of withdrawal plays a role in any major addiction recovery, and when it comes to alcohol-induced anxiety, the same applies. The feeling of alcohol-induced anxiety can become so severe that many resume drinking to relieve their symptoms. There are a variety of physical symptoms to alcohol withdrawal such as aches, pains, shakes, and headaches. Along with those physical symptoms are crippling anxiety effects. Therefore, some continue drinking to ward off the withdrawal symptoms. This behavior only contributes to the anxiety. The only way to heal is through seeking treatment.
– Loss of Coping Skills = Higher Temptations
Alcohol makes it difficult to acquire strong coping abilities. When a person uses alcohol as a coping tool for too long, they forget how to cope with events occurring in their life. Stress is a coping skill. Alcohol dulls stress, so your brain no longer needs it to cope. Once the alcohol is gone, you may struggle to figure out how to handle stress, and severe anxiety is often the result. This makes it easy to want to return to old drinking habits; however, this only makes manners worse. You must learn new coping strategies to deal with stress and anxiety that do not involve consuming alcohol.
– Alcohol Contributes to Anxiety?
While alcohol can cause anxiety for all of the reasons listed above, alcohol also makes anxiety worse. Those who drink alcohol regularly and are vulnerable to anxiety are more likely to have severe anxiety symptoms because they’re starting from a higher baseline.
That’s one of the main reasons that it’s so important to make sure that those with anxiety avoid heavy drinking. Not only do you lose your coping ability, but if you do decide to stop drinking alcohol eventually, the long-term consequences could be very problematic.
How to Reduce Anxiety during Alcohol Withdrawal
So what can you do about this? If your alcohol consumption has become unmanageable, the best thing you can do is check into an alcohol rehabilitation center. These places are equipped to handle the effects of withdrawal and coach you through the process. Alcohol withdrawal is a tricky business and it one of the few drugs which a person can die from. If you have been a heavy drinker for a long time, you need to seek the assistance of experts.
There are several treatment centers employ:
- Slow Detox – Quitting cold turkey is not the answer. Most people need to get off their addictive substances slowly. The body responds better to a slow, gradual reduction. If you try and go cold turkey on your own, you may find the withdrawal symptoms too difficult to bear making relapse likely; Treatment centers help ensure that you are detoxing correctly.
- Replacement Medications – In some cases, some medicines may be given to help with the effects of alcohol withdrawal. The most common are anxiety medication for those who struggle with the anxiety withdrawal symptoms of alcohol use. These drugs come with their risk of abuse, so it is so important to have a professional guiding you through the process.
After the Withdrawal Phase
After the withdrawal phase, you will learn to control your emotions and gain coping strategies. Addiction is a complex issue, but many people become addiction due to poor emotional coping techniques.
If you struggle with intense anxiety, you must get help to treat your anxiety. Alcohol only made the anxiety worse or creates it in the first place. If you want to free yourself from the feeling of alcohol-induced anxiety, you must be open to seeking treatment from a professional.
Recovery from alcohol addiction is not an easy process, and alcohol-induced anxiety only makes the process worse. Alcohol-induced anxiety occurs during the withdrawal stage from alcohol. If you find yourself in this wicked cycled, please reach out for help. The answers lie beyond consuming alcohol. Do not wait. Call now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
Since back in 1949, Mental Health America and other affiliate organizations all over America have led the charge in a collective observance of National Mental Health Month in May by actively reaching out to millions of people in the country to raise awareness, spread information and acknowledge those living with mental health disorders. Using media, local events and mental health screenings these movements take action throughout the month of May to spread the word about mental health as an issue everyone should care about.
As we highlight some of the activities and outreach programs happening this year, we want to challenge everyone to get involved.
All together the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has put together a catalog of options to use as part of a social media toolkit to help raise awareness for #MentalHealthMonth. Included in their toolkit is a variety of hashtags, including the others listed below that correlate with the activities they encourage advocates to get involved with, including:
The official theme for 2016 National Mental Health Month is Life with a Mental Illness calls upon individuals to share what life with a mental illness feels like for them in words, pictures and videos. One way to connect with the movement is to:
- Post on social media with #mentalillnessfeelslike
- Submit stories or content to MHA anonymously
All posts will be collected and displayed at mentalhealthamerica.net/feelslike.
The idea is to let millions of people everywhere speak their own truth about their experience and perspective. It gives people an opportunity to share their struggles and triumphs, while also raising awareness as to the signs of mental illness to others who may not yet know what they are struggling with.
Another way NAMI has helped with pushing for National Mental Health Month is their PSA pledge. In their call to action, they have said it is now time “for all of us to step up and change the conversation.” Found in the PSAs on their website are a few celebrity videos taking the pledge, including:
- Mayim Bialik, PhD- American Actress/Neuroscientist
- Torrey DeVitto- American Actress/Musician/Former Fashion Model
- Clark Gregg- American Actor/Screenwriter/Director
In these videos, the celebrities speak on the stigmatized terms commonly attached to mental illness that are harmful to the people fighting to overcome these conditions, and challenge the viewer to take the pledge to be #stigmafree with instructions on making video pledges for social media.
Petition to Congress
In the wake of years of school and workplace shootings to private family tragedies, more and more people are pushing to take action in effectively recognizing and treatment mental illness in America. Despite the fact that nearly 60 million Americans live with mental illness, there has yet to be a comprehensive mental health bill passed through the United States Congress in 40 years!
NAMI has also helped push a petition demanding the passage of a comprehensive mental health bill this year, with legislation that is intended to:
- Improve access to mental health services
- Improve reimbursement for mental health services
- Improve integration of mental health and physical health
- Increase funding for mental health research
- Provide vital early identification and intervention
On the NAMI website the petition is signed every few minutes, adding to tens of thousands of supporters pushing for the government to take innovative action in helping support those struggling with mental illness.
Everyone Makes a Difference
In a nation where 1 in every 5 Americans will be impacted by a mental health condition in their lifetime, there needs to me awareness and support. We are all impacted in one way or another; be it a family member or loved one. According to reports collected by NAMI:
- Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. experiences serious mental illness in a given year
- Approximately 1 in 5 youth between 13-18 years old experiences a severe mental disorder at some point
- 1% of adults in U.S. live with schizophrenia
- 6% of adults in U.S. live with bipolar disorder
- 9% of adults in U.S. have at least one major depressive episode in the past year
- 1% adults in U.S. experience anxiety disorder (including PTSD/OCD)
- More than 90% of children who die by suicide have a mental health condition
The fight for better mental health treatment should be especially important to the addict. Out of the 20.2 million adults in America who have experienced a substance abuse disorder, 50.5% had a co-occurring mental illness.
For someone like me who has survived depression, drug addiction and suicide, something like mental health awareness treatment is critical. I know from experience that far too many people will go undiagnosed and untreated, and far too many will lose their fight before they find help.
Bringing education and understanding to shed light on the realities of mental illness and mental health treatment is something we should make a priority, not just one month at a time… but all the time.
Palm Partners understands the importance of mental health treatment when it comes to substance abuse, and dual diagnosis treatment is designed to acknowledge the overlapping nature of these disorders and create the right recovery plan to overcome the disease of addiction and confront issues with mental health. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. We want to help, you are not alone.
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
We are all expect to be adults to some extent, as much as we don’t want to be, and part of productive adult’ing is to have a job and work to pay your way. Even though the best things in life are often free, the rest of the things we use to survive in our modern society are not. Employment is one aspect of becoming a responsible adult who contributes to the world in some way, and for those of us who are working right now, we should remember to be grateful even when it’s Friday and you are counting the minutes before you clock-out.
Why? Because there are billions of people out there who would give anything to be in your position. Even young people should know that all over the world there are people struggling because they cannot find work, or cannot keep it, and their mental health suffers because of it too.
One study by researchers has designated young people who are not in education, employment or training as “NEET,” and according to that study these young people are committed to working, but they are also vulnerable to experiencing mental health problems.
This new study was collectively put together by teams of researchers from:
- The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London
- Duke University
- University of California
Using the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study the teams were able to assess the teens based on a few fey factors, including:
The current generation of young people faces the worst job prospects in decades, and with a lack of information about the effects these prospects have on NEET young people’s mental health this study stood to make some important discoveries.
Over 2,000 British young people transitioning from compulsory schooling to early adulthood at the age of 18 were surveyed. 12% of the participants were not in education, employment or training, and out of these “NEET” youths the researchers found:
- 60% had already experienced more than one mental health problem in childhood or adolescence
- 35% suffered from depression
- 14% had generalized anxiety disorder
The researchers also found that NEET participants were less equipped to succeed in the job market, reporting fewer ‘soft’ skills such as:
- Time management
The study also determined the NEET participants showed greater vulnerability for mental health issues, including higher rates of substance abuse.
Out of the Non-NEET youths who were actively involved in education, employment or training the number were basically cut in half:
- 35% had already experienced more than one mental health problem in childhood or adolescence
- 18% suffered from depression
- 6% had generalized anxiety disorder
So why aren’t these people just working so they can be happier and more mentally healthy?
A huge part of the problem is the job market, and how a lot of NEET people find themselves looking actively for work but still unable to find it.
One co-author of the study was Professor Terrie Moffitt from the IoPPN at King’s College London. In regards to the data and the conclusions they came to he said:
“Our findings indicate that while the struggle to find work appears to take its toll on the mental health of young people, this does not appear to be an issue of motivation. The majority of 18-year-olds we spoke to were endeavoring to find jobs and committed to the idea of work, although they are perhaps hampered by a lack of skills that would serve them well in the job market.
“Compared to their peers, NEET young people are also contending with substantial mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse and aggression control.”
Even more disheartening is that the issue was not a quick fix. In another follow-up analysis the researchers accounted for pre-existing vulnerability to mental health problems, and what they found was in nearly every single case the impact of unemployment and lack of training or schooling on mental health remained immense and statistically significant.
Being out of work can hurt more than just your pockets or your ego. Financial insecurity has a big effect on your stress, peace of mind and can even hinder your personal relationships to a great degree.
It should be pretty easy to see how people who are already at risk of substance abuse would only progressively get worse with the added stress and other negative feelings associated with being unemployed since a lot of people use drugs to escape those kinds of feelings in the first place.
My great-great-grandsponsor used to always say,
“You can’t get sober on the couch, kid!”
For people in recovery it’s invariably important to become stable and independent to help improve your mental health and take action toward bettering yourself. A hard day’s work can be more rewarding than we know and a lot of us, both in recovery or otherwise, can sometimes take our jobs for granted.
Recovery itself can be work, but for those who are willing to put in the work the outcomes are far greater than any pay-check anyone ever gave me. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-95-6135
Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder in which a person has repeated attacks of intense fear that something bad will happen to the point of being affected physically. Panic disorder is an extremely unpleasant type of condition that causes the individuals who have it tons of suffering. This is because of the panic attacks which are characterized by a sudden and unexpected overpowering feeling of fear. Panic attacks due to a panic disorder can happen at any time and in any place. They can happen due to a reason or no reason at all and they can come with warning and without warning. Depending on the individual, panic attacks can last from one minute to several hours. Overwhelming anxiety can also develop in between panic attacks since they are so unpredictable and can happen at any time. Because of this panic disorder can really impact a person’s ability to function in day to day life.
- The cause of panic disorder is unknown although genes may play a role. For instance, if one identical twin has panic disorder the other twin is likely to develop it to, almost 40% of the time. Panic disorder often occurs although when there is no family history.
- Panic disorder is actually quite common and it is estimated that around 2.4 million or 1 in 113 American suffer from it. Each year, an estimated 1.7% or 1 in 58 adult Americans aged 18 to 54 experiences a panic attack. It is also estimated that 15% of all American are very likely to experience from a panic attack at least once at some point in their lives.
- Panic disorder is more common in women than it is in men. This may be because it is a fear based disorder. Women are twice as likely to have panic disorder. Women are always two times more likely to have a recurrence of their panic disorder after treatment.
- Panic disorder can begin at any point during a person’s life but is more prevalent in early adulthood and mid-teens. People aged between, 25-44 are at the highest risk of developing a panic disorder. It has statistically been shown that those individuals who are well-educated, married, have families, and a steady job are less likely to develop a panic disorder than those with minimal or no education.
If a person does have a panic disorder there are different types of treatment available. The goal of treatment for those with panic disorder is to help them function in everyday life. A combination of medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy has been shown to work best. Antidepressant medications are usually the most common forms of medicines for panic disorder.
There are also some lifestyle changes that someone with a panic disorder can make that include holistic remedies. These treatments for panic disorder, for instance are:
- Limiting caffeine intake
- Avoiding alcohol and drugs
- Meeting with a therapist
- Using breathing techniques
- Massage Therapy
All of these treatments help to relax someone with a panic disorder which may help to relieve some of the suffering due to anxiety. Some people may never be cured of their panic disorder but they can live to function better in their day to day lives with a mixture of medication, therapy, and holistic remedies or maybe just different parts of the three treatments. Panic disorder does not have to ruin someone’s life it can be arrested and disappear almost entirely with the right tools to treat it.
If your loved one is in need of drug or alcohol addiction treatment please give us a call at 800-951-6135.