Regular substance abuse has an enormous impact on a person’s mental state and it can dramatically worsen anxiety. Over an extended period of time, consistent drug and alcohol abuse can cause a person to develop a tolerance for their substance of choice. Once the body has adapted to substance abuse, it takes greater and greater quantities of a substance in order for an individual to achieve their sought-after “high.” At this point, an addiction can set in that takes a toll on a person’s mental health.
Physical dependence also means that when people stop taking a drug, they experience a wide range of adverse physical and psychological symptoms. One of the most common symptoms of drug and alcohol withdrawal is anxiety. As such, addiction is one of the most important causal factors for anxiety disorder.
Many individual substances also have a notable impact on anxiety disorder. People who abuse or develop addictions to these substances are often especially susceptible to anxiety difficulties.
Alcohol and Anxiety
One of the most commonly cited reasons for drinking alcohol is to calm the nerves. Many people drink in social situations because it makes them feel looser and more at ease. However, when people drink alcohol in enormous quantities the result can be an increase in anxiety. Alcohol induced anxiety most frequently occurs when a person has developed a tolerance for alcohol. Because alcohol is a depressant, the body handles the drug by stimulating its own central nervous system.
As a result, people who are physically dependent on alcohol will generally find themselves more overstimulated, nervous, and prone to anxiety when they are not drinking. When a person is hungover or withdrawing from alcohol, these feelings of anxiety can be so strong that they result in panic attacks. Unfortunately, the cycle is difficult to escape from, because alcohol can provide temporary relief from these uncomfortable feelings.
Many people also experience anxiety as a result of their drinking episodes. People who black out or experience memory lapses while drinking are likely to feel anxiety the next day as they try to recall what they said or did. The erratic or dangerous behavior people engage in while drinking can lead to chaos in their lives. It is only natural that people living disordered and wild lives that they can only half remember will often suffer from anxiety.
Stimulants and Anxiety
Stimulants are a class of drug that increases the activity of the central nervous system (CNS). Drugs of this class include cocaine, amphetamine, and crystal meth. Many popular prescription drugs are stimulants as well. Prescription stimulants include Adderall and Ritalin. These drugs are commonly prescribed to treat the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
However, they are also used for a wide range of recreational purposes. It is increasingly common for college students to abuse prescription stimulants in order to increase their energy, focus, and cognitive function while studying for exams. While these drugs may offer temporary boosts in focus and energy levels, abusing them also directly leads to symptoms of anxiety. Once a person has developed an addiction to these substances, it is likely that their stress levels will further increase, which may cause them to rely on the drugs more.
Cannabis and Anxiety
Marijuana, like alcohol, is frequently used by people as a means of relaxing or being more in the moment. However, marijuana abuse often occurs when a person wants to avoid their worries or anxieties. It may be tempting to rely on this drug to attain a sense of inner peace, but when the body adapts to it and becomes physically dependent, the result is actually an increase in baseline anxiety.
Once the euphoric high has worn off, one of the most notable symptoms of marijuana withdrawal is a feeling of anxiety, stress, and impatience. However, it is important to note that the marijuana high itself often includes symptoms of anxiety. It is common for marijuana users to talk about having had a “bad high,” during which they experience marijuana induced anxiety or even panic attacks. When a person is addicted to marijuana, these experiences can become even more severe.