This article explores the relationship between anxiety and depressant drug addiction. The factors that increase the risk for mental disease and substance abuse are similar. These factors include gender, race, low self-esteem, and genetics. The argument can go both directions. One direction believes that mental disorders increase the risk of drug dependency. The other direction is that substance abuse increases the risk of mental illness.
Some experts feel the issues of mental disease and drug addiction are reciprocal, or dependent. For example, a person who has anxiety abuses drugs or alcohol to lessen the symptoms of anxiety. Treating drug dependency and anxiety in a patient involves prescribing benzodiazepines and methadone to reduce anxiety in the patient. Social anxiety is higher among substance abusers. If stress can be reduced, drug cravings can be reduced.
Depressive disorders have a different result than anxiety disorders. No relationship appears to exist between depression and abusing opiates or alcohol. Instead, people who abuse alcohol have anxiety disorders.
The study was done on a random sample of patients of a group of physicians who specialize in addiction medicine. All of the patients were in outpatient detoxification between 2001 and 2004. This group of physicians is associated with a major university so the patients agreed that their records could be used anonymously for the purpose of this study. The type of drug abused was determined by urinalysis at the beginning of the study and periodically during the study. The doctors did not differentiate between drugs that caused physical dependence and those that did not in regards to their treatment approach. All patients were given drugs to counteract withdrawal symptoms.
The number of participants was 267. The number of males in the study was 191 with 76 females. Caucasian people made up 250 of the participants. Only 10 African Americans and 7 Latinos participated. In regards to marital status, 198 participants were single, 48 were married, 16 were divorced, and five were widowed. The mean age of the participants was 32.3 years.
The hypothesis is that some forms of drug abuse are related to anxiety reduction. Patients self- medicate with opioids to reduce their anxiety or to cope with stress. No relationship exists between alcohol abuse and anxiety disorders.
The data was collected by studying the records of the 267 participants. Demographics, type of drug abused, and patient diagnoses were recorded. If the patient had been previously seen at the clinic, the previous records were taken into consideration. Patients were given diagnostic evaluations to determine their specific psychiatric condition. The diagnoses were generally grouped into the categories of depression and anxiety. The specific type of depression and anxiety were also documented.
The results are that those who were opiate dependent were white males. Alcohol was the second most frequent drug abused. Only nineteen patients were abusing more than one drug. Forty-one percent of the participants were diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. The anxiety disorders ranged from panic attacks to acute stress. The most common forms of anxiety disorders were generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder. Almost 23% of the patients had depression in either the major depressive disorder form or the dysthymic form. Almost 95% of the women in the study had a psychiatric disorder. Only 34 patients had no psychiatric diagnosis.
I would like to continue to study how drugs cause personality disorders. Since so many drugs have a psychological effect it is important to study and understand these effects. Both prescription and non-prescription drugs need to be studied for their effects on personality disorders.