Managing Anxiety While in Recovery: What You Need to Know

Man managing his anxiety while in addiction recovery

For many people, addiction isn’t the only occurrence. Mental illness concerns, like depression and anxiety, often enter our lives years before we begin to recognize how they’re affecting us – and while it can feel overwhelming, recovery is often a great place to begin discovering tools to manage concerns like anxiety which can take such a heavy toll on our day to day lives. Even the simple act of entering treatment can be nerve wracking, as we don’t know what to expect; according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety is highly treatable – but only 36.9% actually seek treatment.

Identifying Anxiety

Anxiety may seem like a minor issue compared to other challenges you may be going through, but all too often, it serves as the “cherry on top” – the small piece of our lives that pushes us over the edge and makes it difficult for us to recover. If you begin to notice any of these subtle yet impactful symptoms, know that you may need to begin exploring some tools to treat anxiety:

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feeling irritable more easily
  • Thoughts that are racing
  • Difficulty resting or staying still
  • Tension throughout your body
  • Nausea
  • General tiredness
  • And more

The ADAA notes that in some cases, substance abuse can perpetuate anxiety – whereas in other cases, anxiety existed before substance abuse occurred, and alcohol or other drugs may even be used to help relieve some of anxiety’s symptoms., a website that publishes information related to a variety of conditions, explains that,

“The more often you think certain kinds of thoughts or act certain ways or feel certain feelings like anxiety, the more these patterns are built into the architecture of your brain.” 

Self-medication may feel like the only way out when it comes to anxiety, but there are other ways of working through it – and one of them is the formalized treatment at Cumberland Heights.

Finding Support Through 12-Step Programs

There are many effective methods that have been used to help people work through their anxieties. Sometimes it’s a matter of finding the source of it – such as whether it’s part of withdrawal – and other times it’s about finding other people you can relate to – people who make you feel less alone. 12-Step programs are an excellent source of comfort for many people in addiction recovery because they give them not only people whom they can relate to, but they also provide a structured path for them to follow – one that connects them to a Higher Power.

Typical benefits that those with anxiety experience from 12-Step programs include:

  • Feeling safe in a space with others who’ve gone through challenges
  • The opportunity to learn from other people’s experiences
  • The ability to learn different communication strategies to see what works
  • Engaging in different exercises to deal with a variety of different situations

In addition to this, therapy can provide us with a number of strategies that can strengthen one’s “mental health toolkit”:

  • Learning to problem solve more effectively
  • Critical thinking skills, which can combat pesky anxious thoughts
  • Assessing thought patterns and discovering which ones are helping vs. hindering recovery progress
  • Providing alternative solutions to life’s problems or ways of thinking about something
  • Receiving positive feedback
  • And more

Therapy – whether as an individual or in groups – can be truly enlightening for those who are battling anxiety on a daily basis.

You’re Not Alone: A Personal Story from Someone with Anxiety

A few years ago, an individual shared their own journey of recovery through anxiety via Anxiety, Panic and Health – and after learning more about what anxiety is and how their symptoms have impacted their daily life, they were able to develop some amazing tools to work through it effectively. “Fuzzy thinking” was one of the symptoms mentioned – as this person had extreme difficulty concentrating because of the thoughts that seemed to “buzz” through their mind each day. In addition to this, the person explained their fear of social activities – but over time, they became more confident – especially as they took a proactive approach to their recovery.

Writer Eric Taylor explained via Talk Space his journey to recovery from anxiety. He stated:

“A few years into my sobriety, I learned how to check in with my emotions: What was I feeling? Did I know why I was feeling this way? The most important thing I learned, however, was to see outside myself. One thing that helps me is to do things for other people.”

Recognize That It’s a Journey

Recovery takes time, and anxiety may not completely go away – but by using the resources around you and relying on people who care, you can form a strong support system along with healthy tools to cope with anxiety when it arises.

If you’re ready to begin the beautiful journey of recovery, speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights today.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of two 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers, and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first. For more information, call 1-800-646-9998 today.