Understanding Phobias and Addictions

Phobias and Addiction

It is quite common for phobias and addictions to go hand in hand. They often occur at the same time within the same people. In a way, it's almost as if they “feed” each other, eventually. It is very normal for people to be afraid of certain things or situations. For example, if they are put in danger, they may develop fear. However, a phobia is much more extreme. People with phobias experience fears that are not based on reality at all.

Phobias Information

Some phobias may be triggered by actual, real-life experiences. However, not all of them are. Even if they are, as time goes on, the fear loses its basis in reality. It is even possible for phobias to develop to the point where they take over a person's life.

With that in mind, it should be no surprise that many people develop addictions as a result of their phobias. For them, drugs or alcohol are simply ways to cope with how they feel. Phobias can also develop alongside other mental health conditions. A few examples include:

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD
  • Bipolar disorder

At Northpoint Washington, we've worked with many patients with phobias. Many of them used drugs or alcohol as a way to self-medicate their symptoms. This is problematic for a number of reasons. If this is the situation you're in now, please know that it's important to get help.

What are Phobias?

“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.” – Marie Curie

According to the National Institute of Mental Health:

  • More than 8.5% of adults in the United States suffer from a phobia.
  • Many of these adults are between the ages of 45 and 59.
  • 22% of these individuals experience symptoms that classify their conditions as severe.
  • About 32% of people with phobias are getting the treatment they need.
  • Many people experience their first symptoms of a phobia around the age of 7.

Phobia means “fear or aversion” in Greek. There are many different types of phobias, but they all produce the same reaction. The key component of a phobia is that it is absolutely debilitating. It can cause people to rearrange their entire lives just to accommodate it.

It's very common for phobias to result in emotionally painful isolation from the people they love. Sufferers may even be unable to work or maintain healthy relationships.

What are Some Common Types of Phobias?

There are five different types of phobias. These are:

  • Fears of animals, birds or insects.
  • Fears of specific situations, such as water or in closed spaces.
  • Fears of natural occurrences, such as lightening.
  • Fears of blood or injuries.
  • Fears of other situations or objects. Some examples may be clowns, dirt or germs.

Even though there are many different classifications of phobias, a few tend to be dominant. The fear of heights, of being alone, of being injured, and the fear of animals are most common.

Do You Have a Phobia? Ways You Can Identify Them

Maybe you have a fear of something, but you're not really sure if it's an actual phobia. There are some common symptoms that can help you identify it if it is. These include:

  • Feeling short of breath
  • Shakiness all over the body
  • Having your heart rate increase
  • Feeling like you want to run away
  • Experiencing panic and fear

Methods of Treatment for Phobias

If you do have a phobia, getting the right kind of treatment is very important. Psychotherapy is vital for you. Medications can also be used to treat your symptoms. Some common anti-anxiety medications used to treat phobias include Ativan, Xanax, and Valium.

Unfortunately, many people don't realize they can get treatment. Instead, they tend to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.

Substances Frequently Abused by People with Phobias

Some of the most commonly abused substances by those with phobias include:

  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Prescription opiates
  • Heroin
  • Tranquilizers

These drugs have a calming effect, which is desirable by those who have extreme anxiety.

How are Phobias and Addiction Related?

When someone has a phobia, getting professional treatment might not be their first response. Using drugs or alcohol can bring relief. This is why phobias and addiction are so closely related to each other.

Unfortunately, this type of relief rarely lasts for long. Eventually the substances stop working. They can even eventually make the symptoms of anxiety much worse.

Integrative Addiction Treatment for Phobias and Addiction

Integrative addiction treatment is essential for people with phobias and addictions. These co-occurring disorders need to be treated at the same time.

By opting for dual diagnosis treatment, therapy methods are combined for both conditions. This produces a much higher chance of treatment being successful. Research has shown that it is not effective to treat only the symptoms of addiction. In order for patients to recover, the reasons behind their treatment must be addressed too. This is done very well through this type of drug or alcohol rehab facility.

If you have a co-occurring disorder, dual diagnosis treatment can help you recover.

Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment for Phobias and Addiction Offers Hope for Recovery

It's possible that you never really thought of there being a connection between your phobia and your addiction. For most of your life, you thought they were two very different, separate things. However, now you are beginning to see the connection, and you want to do something about it.

Your co-occurring disorders need to be treated appropriately. That's not something that can be done in many rehab settings. It's important to properly diagnose your phobia and treat it as the cause of your addiction. Here at Northpoint Washington, we can do that for you. Our higher than average recovery rates prove that the treatment we offer is effective.

Are you suffering from a phobia and an addiction? If you are, proper treatment is crucial for you. Please contact us today to get help.