Recovery is possible

Anxiety & Addiction

Treating substance addiction without addressing underlying anxiety will only provide temporary relief.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety and substance abuse often occur together. In some cases, people turn to alcohol or other substances to help them cope with anxiety symptoms. For others, substance use brings on anxiety. For people struggling with concurrent anxiety and substance addiction, research has shown that effectively treating one condition requires adequately addressing the other.

The team at CHRC understands that treating substance addiction without addressing underlying anxiety will only provide temporary relief, at best. Our mental health treatment programs are designed to do both—we use evidence-based treatment methods.

CAMH identifies anxiety as a “distress in a person’s life to the point that it negatively affects his or her ability to work or study, socialize and manage daily tasks, it may be beyond the normal range.” Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is one of the most common mental health disorders among people with substance addiction. People with GAD experience persistent worry and excessive anxiety that lasts at least 6 months or longer. The underlying reasons for anxiety can include a history of abuse or trauma, or other factors. We help clients explore and understand these causes of anxiety and support clients in developing effective coping mechanisms. 

Anxiety and Addiction

People struggling with an anxiety disorder may use substances to ease their fears and discomforts. This can have the unintended effect of making anxiety worse over time. For some people, drugs and alcohol are the cause of anxiety. This is called substance-induced anxiety disorder. If you’re struggling with an anxiety disorder and substance addiction, it’s important to seek out an addiction rehab centre that also provides mental health treatment.

Understanding Addiction

Individuals with anxiety disorders may experience excessive fear, feelings of apprehension, and challenges managing day-to-day tasks. To cope, people may attempt to avoid situations or circumstances that can be triggering or to attempt to control the environment around them. These adaptive measures can lead to heightened feelings that are not always helpful or healthy.

There are several types of anxiety disorders, but they all share two key features: fear and anxiety. Fear is an emotional response to a real or perceived threat. Anxiety is an emotional state a person experiences in anticipation of a potential future threat. Here are the five major types of anxiety disorders:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

GAD is the most common anxiety disorder in older adults. It is often linked to depression and is characterized by persistent, excessive, and intrusive worry.

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is characterized by unexpected episodes of intense fear with physical symptoms that can include shortness of breath, chest pain, heart palpitations, dizziness, and abdominal distress.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that often develops after a traumatic event or series of events. It is characterized by unwanted memories of the event, hyperarousal, flashbacks of the event(s), referred to as “re-experiencing,” and avoidance behaviours

Social Anxiety Disorder

Also called social phobia, social anxiety disorder is characterized by overwhelming anxiety and paralyzing self-consciousness in everyday social situations. It can be limited to one type of situation—such as public speaking—or it can be broad, occurring almost anytime the person is around others.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD is characterized by overwhelming, obsessive thoughts and compulsions (repetitive behaviours). People with OCD may repeatedly wash their hands, count, check, or clean to make the intrusive thoughts go away, but these behaviours provide only temporary relief.

Anxiety disorders can include:

  • specific phobia
  • panic disorder
  • agoraphobia
  • social anxiety disorder
  • selective mutism
  • separation anxiety disorder.

Anxiety can present as:

  • irrational and excessive fear
  • apprehensive and tense feelings
  • difficulty managing daily tasks and/or distress related to these tasks.

Cognitive, behavioral and physical symptoms include:

  • anxious thoughts (e.g., “I’m losing control” )
  • anxious predictions (e.g., “I’m going to fumble my words and humiliate myself”)
  • anxious beliefs (e.g., “Only weak people get anxious”)
  • avoidance of feared situations (e.g., driving)
  • avoidance of activities that elicit sensations similar to those experienced when anxious (e.g., exercise)
  • subtle avoidances (behaviours that aim to distract the person, e.g., talking more during periods of anxiety)
  • safety behaviours (habits to minimize anxiety and feel “safer,” e.g., always having a cell phone on hand to call for help)
  • excessive physical reactions relative to the context (e.g., heart racing and feeling short of breath in response to being at the mall).

The physical symptoms of anxiety may be mistaken for symptoms of a physical illness, such as a heart attack.

The strain on one’s physical system as it relates to worrying, lack of sleep, or continued hyper-alert behaviour can impact the biochemistry of a person. 

Canadian Health Recovery Centre offers an environment and supportive programming to teach our clients how to manage these feelings and behaviors .

Treatment of anxiety whether diagnosed or undiagnosed requires talk therapy and on occasion pharmacological intervention. We support our clients in continuing the use of their prescribed medications upon entry into CHRC.

Anxiety and Addiction Rehab in Toronto, Canada

The steps toward change

Anxiety Treatment at CHRC

Canadian Health Recovery Centre provides comprehensive treatment for people with substance addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. Our team is able to develop programming for concurrent disorders and our interdisciplinary team can ensure mental health and addiction are each addressed.

Learn more about our Ontario drug and alcohol addiction rehab and take a virtual tour of our facility. Help for anxiety and addiction is just a phone call away.


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2225 Lansdowne St West 
Peterborough ON K9J 0G5