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The renowned Danish theologian and philosopher Søren Kierkegaard once said, “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” The loss or impairment of emotional, mental, and even physical freedom is characteristic of not only anxiety but also alcohol dependency. When someone struggles with both of these disorders, the pain is compounded. Sadly, anxiety and alcohol misuse are, more often than not, enmeshed in the Venn diagram of addiction.

Many people who have a dependency on alcohol will exhibit symptoms of anxiety, yet they don’t realize they have a problem. To get the right kind of help, it is important to understand the link between alcohol dependency and anxiety. It is crucial to understand why it happens as well as when to seek help. Lighthouse Recovery can help one overcome alcohol addiction and remain on the lifelong path of recovery.

The Symptoms of Alcohol Dependency

While it is more openly discussed and certainly less stigmatized these days, alcohol dependency is often misunderstood. According to the academic journal Alcohol Research & Health, “Continued excessive alcohol consumption can lead to the development of dependence that is associated with a withdrawal syndrome when alcohol consumption is ceased or substantially reduced. This syndrome comprises physical signs as well as psychological symptoms that contribute to distress and psychological discomfort.”

Ceasing excessive alcohol use can result in a variety of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. According to the National Library of Medicine, these symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Feeling depressed and/or having feelings of excessive loneliness or hopelessness
  • Feeling fatigued, and a lack of interest in once-enjoyed activities
  • Feeling jumpy, shaky, and irritable
  • Having difficulty sleeping, experiencing night sweats, and/or nightmares
  • Experiencing headaches, sometimes accompanied by nausea and vomiting
  • Having a loss of appetite, or the inability to keep food down
  • Experiencing a rapid heart rate
  • Excessively sweating and having pallor
  • Experiencing delirium tremens, which can cause fever, hallucinations, severe confusion, and even seizures
  • Feeling extreme anxiety and nervousness

Anxiety is not just an often-reported symptom of alcohol withdrawal. It is also a symptom that can be debilitating and contribute to the constant cycle of alcohol misuse.

The Correlation Between Anxiety and Alcohol

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can fall into three different categories: physical, mental, and emotional symptoms. Anxiety can be a symptom of all three. However, it predominantly lies in the emotional category.

Physical Withdrawal Symptoms

First is the physical category of alcohol withdrawal. When the physical symptoms of rapid heart rate, shakiness, and fatigue (to name a few) appear, it can cause an individual to experience worsening symptoms of anxiety. This is because concern over physical ailments can create uncertainty, and with uncertainty often arises anxiety.

Mental Withdrawal Symptoms

The second category highlights the mental symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. These mental symptoms include racing thoughts, thoughts of previous inappropriate and destructive behaviors, and thoughts of impending doom. Of course, the inability to control these thoughts can create tremendous feelings of anxiety.

Emotional Withdrawal Symptoms

Lastly, the third category sheds light on the emotional symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. One could argue that these symptoms are the most predominant. These emotions are often uncontrollable and can lead an individual to become emotionally paralyzed by anxiety. 

Further, this paralyzation can lead to the inability to reach out for help. It can lead to the need to begin drinking again, and sadly it can lead to thoughts or attempts of suicide. Alcohol addiction is a life-and-death disease, and it is not to be taken lightly.

Treating Potential Co-occurring Disorders

One of the issues with alcohol use disorder (AUD) is that it can mask other disorders. In addition to masking anxiety, AUDD can also mask the symptoms of depression. 

It is difficult to determine whether the excessive use of alcohol is the primary cause of anxiety when someone is in active addiction. Anxiety experienced from AUD can also come from another source, such as childhood trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for example.

This is the reason that getting treatment for AUD is so crucial. Treatment can get to the bottom of any co-occurring disorders and underlying issues that may be perpetuating alcohol use.

There Is a Solution

We at Lighthouse Recovery understand that addiction withdrawal is often taxing and incredibly scary. All of us have been through recovery in our own unique way. But the good news is that there is a solution to those withdrawals. 

By utilizing an individualized recovery approach, we can get you or your loved one the help you need. Depending on the severity of the withdrawals, this may include detox, extensive outpatient treatment, sober living housing, and/or recovery coaching. We also have the ability to treat the comorbidity of anxiety and depression if the situation calls for it.

Both anxiety and alcohol addiction can remove the feeling of freedom that everyone deserves. If you are struggling, you deserve it too. We can help you achieve lasting recovery from substance use and co-occurring issues like anxiety.

Withdrawal from alcohol can be extremely dangerous. In fact, it is one of the most dangerous substances to detox from without professional medical supervision. Alcohol withdrawal has several detrimental symptoms, not the least of which is heightened anxiety. When heightened withdrawal symptoms from alcohol use appear, it may be a sign that there is a more serious problem. Alcohol use disorder and anxiety often go hand in hand, but the good news is that both alcohol misuse and anxiety are highly treatable and manageable. If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol misuse, help is available. For more information and support, please call Lighthouse Recovery today at (214) 396-0259.