How to Manage Anxiety in Sobriety

Tuesday, August 21, 2018 | By Chris Clancy

anxiety

According to a survey taken by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 7.9 million Americans are living with addiction and a co-occurring mental health disorder. For a large majority of those people, anxiety is a common and frustrating state they regularly cope with.

For many, the drugs and alcohol were often the only way a person could stifle the intensity of their anxiety, so what is left to do once the person has gotten clean and sober? At JourneyPure, not only will you or your loved one be treated for their co-occurring disorders in a dual diagnosis licensed facility, but the individual will also learn healthy ways to manage their anxiety while maintaining their sobriety.

What Characterizes Anxiety?

Generally, anxiety is defined by several disorders that can cause nervousness, fear, and worry. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, a certain level of anxiety is normal for people, but when these thoughts become a constant attack on a person’s mental state and ability to do daily tasks, it can reach the level of becoming a disorder.

Most commonly, mental disorders that are characterized by high anxiety are:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Agoraphobia
  • Separation Anxiety
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The difference between run of the mill nerves or butterflies before a big event, anxiety can often be debilitating for those who struggle with it, making it extremely difficult for people who are trying to stay sober. A good way to indicate whether a person is experiencing symptoms of an anxiety disorder is to identify why the person is feeling worried, and then assess whether their symptoms are a healthy or proportional response to that effector.

So, if you know by now that you struggle with anxiety, and don’t want it to inhibit your sober life, here are some tips on how to manage symptoms of anxiety in sobriety.

Meditation

Clearly, “letting it go” isn’t going to be the most helpful advice to get when struggling with an anxiety or panic attack. However, deep, diaphragmatic breathing has been scientifically proven to lower blood pressure, slow heart rate, and reduce tension that is commonly associated with stress.

Incorporating meditation can sometimes feel like an impossible challenge because getting the mind to slow down can take some real practice and dedication, but when it is utilized in the battle against anxiety, it can oftentimes make all the difference.

Practicing mindfulness and meditation, or, simply being in the present moment, is literally the antithesis to anxiety. Again, no easy feat, however, taking a few moments to sit in a special spot, focus on your breathing, and focus on being exactly in the moment, with nothing to do and nowhere to be except right there, breathing, will be more effective than any drug or drink would ever be.

Adding in a few moments of mindful breathing to your day, every day, will not only help the practice be easier for you, but it will be easier to settle into that place in times of severe anxiety.

woman meditating

Being of Service

If there is one thing that 12 step programs teach us, it is to be of service to others. Granted, when we are trapped in a loop of the future or of things we can’t control, reaching out to someone else can often be the farthest thought from our mind.

However, it is crucial, in those moments, to do just that, to reach out to someone else when we are feeling anxious. Reason being is because it allows us to get outside of our own heads, even if only for a little while.

Reaching out to others, asking about their day, taking a newcomer to coffee, can often put what we are anxious about into a new perspective. When we let our thoughts run wild in our heads, we can start to warp them, blow them out of proportion, and the next thing we know, our anxiety is through the roof and we feel like completely shutting down.

However, when we speak to another sober person and truly LISTEN with the intent to understand them, we often find that we develop a new perspective on whatever it was we were stressing out about. Not only does it help us, but it also helps the other person to know that someone thought about them and cared about them today.

Talk to Your Therapist

If you know darn well that you have anxiety, and you haven’t seen a therapist for it, you should probably change that, as soon as you can. Here’s why. Having a sponsor is all well and good, and having sober supports is wonderful and amazing too. However, there is SO MUCH value in seeing your own therapist.

Plain and simple, your sponsor is not your therapist, they have one real job, which is to take you through the book of the program you work to stay sober. Your sponsor should not be your life coach, your parent, or your therapist, they don’t get paid enough!

Your therapist, on the other hand, is literally a trained professional who specializes in understanding what you are going through and helps you work through your anxiety in a constructive and healthy way. Your sponsor and sober supports might empathize with you, but your therapist will provide you with healthy options and coping mechanisms outside of the 12 steps. Such as EMDR and specific forms of therapy.

EMDR

Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing Therapy is a form of therapy that reprograms the distress and uncomfortable emotional responses that occur from unpleasant or traumatic events. In other words, it retrains your neural pathways to heal themselves around a memory, creating a more positive response.

It sounds wild because it is, but think about it. If you could remember that one traumatic event in your life as something that you grew from, rather than with intense feelings of guilt, shame, fear, anger, sadness, etc., wouldn’t you want to try it? JourneyPure offers individuals who struggle with anxiety from traumatic events the opportunity to heal through EMDR therapy.

Anxiety is more common than many people know, and for those who live with it daily, it can often be excuse enough to continue their patterns of drinking or substance abuse. However, that doesn’t have to be the story forever.

Getting Help

It can be overwhelming even thinking about going to rehab, never mind actually doing it. However, if you are suffering from even just one of these signs, reaching out for help is the best chance you have to put an end to your substance use disorder for good.

Do not ignore yourself and your needs. You are worth getting the appropriate mental health treatment so that you no longer have to live in this dangerous cycle of abuse. Reach out to us right now. We can help.

Get the best treatment for yourself or a loved one.

Fill out the form below and we will reach out to you to let you know how we can help you get your life back!


Blog

Stay Up To Date

  • I Think I’m Addicted to Prescription Meds – Am I an Addict?

    “It’s been prescribed to me, so it isn’t dangerous.”   This is one of the greatest myths surrounding prescription painkillers. When you think of substance abuse, you probably think of street drugs. But did you know prescription medicatio

    LEARN MORE
  • 5 Stress Relief Tools for Recovering Addicts

    Family problems, traffic jams and looming deadlines. Everybody has experienced stress at some point, but for individuals suffering from addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders, stress can be destructive. Stress overload – or an inability

    LEARN MORE
  • 10 Common Fears of Rehab and How to Overcome Them

    Making the decision to enter a treatment facility to get help with an addiction is certainly not easy. There are many common fears of entering rehab that come up when contemplating this decision. The good news is, you’re not alone in feeling this w

    LEARN MORE
  • parent enabling daughter

    How to Stop Enabling an Addict

    Addiction is a tough disease — both for the person with the problem, as well as their friends and families, who may feel helpless in their ability to keep a loved one out of harm’s way. Though addictions only affect the addict themselves on a phy

    LEARN MORE
  • Staying Motivated in Recovery

    Staying Motivated in Recovery

    Addiction is a deadly disease that can sneak up on you when you least expect it. One minute you think you have your life under control and the next minute you realize you are lying to everyone, including yourself. You have difficulty managing your wo

    LEARN MORE
  • 12-Step Meetings: What to Expect

    If you’ve just completed a treatment program and are looking to get connected to people in recovery or if you’d like to stop drinking or using drugs and are looking for some support, 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonym

    LEARN MORE
  • Michaela’s Story: Road to Recovery

    It is estimated more than two-thirds of people that struggle with addiction have experienced some type of childhood trauma. For Michaela S., it was a family tragedy. She was just 9-years-old when she lost her brother in an ATV accident. He was only a

    LEARN MORE
  • Sober Fall Activities Near Bowling Green

    Fall is a great time to get outside and enjoy the cooler weather and head out for some festive family activities. A major contributor in long-term recovery and preventing relapse is steering clear of triggers. The best way to do that is to change you

    LEARN MORE
  • A Guide to 12-Step Meetings

    As part of your continuing care plan, it will be recommended you attend regular 12-step meetings for support and encouragement. Understanding the founding principles and the general meeting guidelines can help ease some fears and anxiety you might be

    LEARN MORE
  • Finding Hope through Family Therapy

    At JourneyPure Bowling Green, we feel very strongly that family involvement throughout one’s addiction treatment is essential for long-term recovery. Organizations including the National Institute on Drug Abuse and U.S. Department of Health and Hum

    LEARN MORE
  • The Heroin Epidemic in Kentucky

    Known as “The Bluegrass State,” Kentucky is home to the world-famous Kentucky Derby, is notorious for its bourbon, coal mines and even fried chicken. What it’s lesser known is the devastating effect heroin is having on families. There is a hero

    LEARN MORE
  • songwriting therapy

    Songwriting Therapy Heals Patients in Recovery

    For many, especially those undergoing treatment for addiction and mental health issues, it can be difficult to express feelings verbally. Addiction is rarely the only struggle one’s facing when they enter treatment; it’s often coupled with some t

    LEARN MORE

Testimonials

  • Everyone who works here is very kind and helpful. They really want what is best for you. The housing is super nice and comfortable. I am very pleased with the time I spent here.

    Emily

    Review

  • JourneyPure Bowling Green has changed my life this is the first time I have ever been to a Rehabilitation Center and while it was not at all what I expected, it was exactly what I needed.

    Angela

    Review

  • Great place. I learned much here about my addiction and I feel that I now have the tools to control it. They have great a great staff and the accommodations are top notch.

    Terry F

    Review

  • My family member is still sober a year and a half after his treatment stay here.

    Brittany

    Review

  • This place was GREAT! I feel like they helped me with much more than I expected.

    Tim M

    Review

  • I loved my time here and I learned a lot about my recovery. All the staff were great and really helped me in the areas that I needed help in.

    Caleb H

    Review

  • The people here are very nice and will do whatever it takes to help you out, they are very helpful, its a great place to start off your sobriety

    Steven

    Review

  • I have enjoyed my stay and feel very confident in my recovery. Everyone here has been wonderful and very helpful. I would recommend Journey Pure to anyone seeking recovery.

    Frank

    Review