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How Anxiety and Alcohol Can Fuel Each Other

Anxiety is part of the human experience—it’s a natural response to stress and can even be helpful in certain situations. However, anxiety can become problematic when it interferes with daily functioning. For some, alcohol can be a way to cope with feelings of anxiety and stress. However, using alcohol as a coping mechanism can lead to a vicious cycle where anxiety fuels drinking, and drinking fuels anxiety. There’s a strong connection between anxiety and alcohol, and it’s essential to address both issues simultaneously for successful recovery. 

At Recovery Centers of America, we offer integrated treatment programs for individuals struggling with substance use disorders and mental health concerns. Our rehab centers provide comprehensive care to help patients break the cycle of anxiety and alcohol dependence. 

Call 1-800-RECOVERY today to learn more about our dual diagnosis treatment options and to break free from the grip of anxiety and alcohol. 

Understanding Anxiety 

Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health conditions characterized by excessive worry, fear, or nervousness that are difficult to control. Some common types of anxiety disorders include: 

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) – Excessive worry and anxiety about everyday events or activities. 
  • Panic disorder – Repeated panic attacks, which are sudden episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms such as chest pain, heart palpitations, dizziness, or shortness of breath. 
  • Social anxiety disorder – Fear or discomfort in social situations due to concerns about judgment or embarrassment. 
  • Phobias – Intense fear or avoidance of specific objects, situations, or activities. 
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) – Intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviors that interfere with daily life. 
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – Anxiety and flashbacks after experiencing a traumatic event. 

Anxiety disorders can cause physical symptoms such as muscle tension, restlessness, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping. They can also impact daily life by making it difficult to concentrate, interact with others, and perform well at work or school. 

The Connection Between Anxiety and Alcohol 

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, meaning it slows down brain activity. While alcohol may initially provide temporary relief from anxiety symptoms, over time, it can worsen them. Regularly consuming large amounts of alcohol can cause changes in brain chemistry, leading to an increase in anxiety and other mental health symptoms. 

Furthermore, using alcohol as a coping mechanism for anxiety can lead to dependence and addiction. When someone relies on alcohol to cope with their emotions, they may develop tolerance (needing more of the substance for the same effect) and withdrawal symptoms when not drinking. This cycle of drinking to relieve anxiety and then experiencing increased anxiety when not drinking can be challenging to break without professional help. 

Treatment for Co-Occurring Anxiety and Alcohol Use Disorders 

At Recovery Centers of America, we understand the complex relationship between anxiety and alcohol use disorders. Our system of care is designed to address both issues simultaneously, providing patients with the tools and support they need to achieve lasting recovery.  

This simultaneous approach means that patients don’t have to choose between addressing their anxiety or addiction—they can work on both at the same time. We offer a Pathway to Recovery specifically for patients with co-occurring disorders (our Balance Pathway), which focuses on identifying and managing triggers for both anxiety and alcohol use. 

Get in Touch with Recovery Centers of America Today 

If you or a loved one is struggling with anxiety and alcohol use, know that recovery is possible. With the right treatment and support, it’s possible to break free from the cycle of anxiety and alcohol dependence and live a fulfilling life in recovery. 

Contact Recovery Centers of America at 1-800-RECOVERY or reach out to us online to speak with a member of our team. 



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