How OCD Patients Self-Medicate with Drugs and Alcohol

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), about 20 percent of anxiety sufferers also suffer from drug and alcohol abuse. What most don’t realize is that substance abuse only exacerbates the condition and often leads to the use of more illicit drugs.

There are a number of factors that may bring about anxiety such as brain imbalance, genetics, stress, trauma and even environmental factors. Individuals often self-medicate to provide a temporary reduction in anxiety levels. This often leads at a vicious cycle of abuse.

In a University of Canada Winnipeg study, researchers found that anxiety sufferers who believe they are alleviating anxiety through drug and alcohol use, may also be setting themselves up for a number of long-term health issues.

The three year study on anxiety disorder patients found that self-medication often worsened symptoms like panic attacks.

The team of researchers, lead by Jennifer Robinson MA, presented their findings at the Canadian Psychiatric Association Conference. The study backs up already assumed claims regarding anxiety disorders and self-medication. It also allows doctors the opportunity to better address the needs of the patient.

For the study, researchers used long-term data from nearly 35,000 anxiety sufferers. Researchers studied to find whether the usage of prescription drugs, alcohol, and prescribed medications caused substance abuse disorders in the long term.

The data extracted came from a variety of factors including age, race, gender, region, marital status, education and income. Over the three year baseline, researchers discovered that individuals self-medicating were four times more likely to develop serious drug dependency problems. Researchers also discovered that over half of the people in the study group were also abusing alcohol.

Researchers are hoping that the findings will help clinicians become more proactive when it comes to treating individuals with anxiety disorders. Underlying anxiety abuse issues could be a result of substance abuse. The data extracted can be useful when it comes to treating individuals suffering from anxiety disorders.

While more research is necessary, researchers hope that individuals suffering from anxiety disorders will do more to seek out treatment and possible cures. Early detection is the key.