June 21, 2021
Alcohol and drug abuse has become a global menace. In the 2018 World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health, the harmful use of alcohol was associated with around 3 million deaths (or 5.3 percent of all deaths) in 2016.
Researchers attribute the increased use of alcohol to a common perception that alcohol can help reduce stress-induced tension and can alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms of anxiety such as anticipating erratic, impending fears. Patients with alcohol use disorder (AUD) consume alcohol as a way to self-medicate anxiety, thanks to the sedative effect of the alcohol. However, some researchers consider it a vicious cycle in which the person craves for alcohol to relieve the anxiety developed from the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol abstinence. Probably that is the reason; stress and anxiety are often associated with alcohol craving and consumption, and subsequent development and maintenance of alcohol use disorder (AUD).
Alcohol Use and Anxiety during COVID-19 Pandemic, Researchers’ Viewpoint
Apart from triggering a public health crisis of unprecedented scale, the COVID-19 pandemic is also leaving a detrimental effect on people’s mental health. And those who are already ill are in a miserable plight.
It has been found that people tend to increase alcohol consumption during the times of crises, particularly those struggling with anxiety and depression. According to a study, around 29 percent participants reported increased alcohol use in March and April 2020, the time when COVID-19 had started to wreck havoc.
The study found that participants aged 18-39 years were more vulnerable to report increased alcohol use. Further the likelihood of older persons (aged between 40 and 59 years and ≥60 years) reporting increased drinking was more among those with symptoms of depression and anxiety, compared to those without symptoms.
These findings stressed upon the need of age-differentiated public health messaging on the risks of AUD and substance abuse among middle-aged and older adults with symptoms of anxiety and/or depression.
Treating Comorbid Anxiety and AUD
In cases where the patient suffers from both an anxiety disorder and AUD, treating them becomes a challenge. This is known as dual diagnosis. The patient fails to recover from either problem unless both are treated together. Generally, experts recommend three basic treatment alternatives for dual diagnosis disorders: addressing one disorder at a time, treating both problems simultaneously (also called parallel treatment), or employing an integrated approach in the form of a single, comprehensive program.
Pharmacological and psychosocial therapies have been found to be efficacious in treating anxiety and AUD both as independent and comorbid conditions. Although there are some effective pharmacological interventions to treat concurrently occurring anxiety and AUD, a clear consensus on which ones or combination would work better is still lacking. However, in the light of evidences favoring the efficacy of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments in dealing with dual diagnosis, researchers have found an integrated treatment as more superior to manage concurrent anxiety and alcohol use disorders.
Individuals who have alcohol-related problems with symptoms of anxiety including palpitations, trembling, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, and a sense of fear should immediately see a physician. People looking for credible information on anxiety disorders can immediately contact Invictus Health Group. We assist patients battling addiction and anxiety-related problems with the correct information related to these conditions. Patients and caregivers can call our 24/7 helpline (866) 548-0190 for help regarding detox program for alcohol and drug detox and information regarding addiction treatment centers in California.