Anxiety & Alcohol Addiction | Symptoms, Risk Factors, & Treatment

Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS

on July 29, 2023

Those who suffer from an anxiety disorder as well as alcohol use disorder (AUD) may require dual diagnosis treatment. Treatment services can include medical detox, psychotherapy, and medication management.

Those who suffer from a substance use disorder such as alcohol use disorder (AUD) and a mental health disorder such as generalized anxiety disorder may require dual diagnosis treatment

Co-occurring anxiety disorders and AUD present numerous symptoms which can impact your daily life.

Those suffering from feelings of anxiety brought on by an anxiety disorder may try to self-medicate by drinking alcohol which can lead to continued chronic alcohol consumption that can create a variety of health problems.

Symptoms Of Anxiety Disorders

Symptoms associated with anxiety disorders, as stated by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), include:

  • restlessness
  • irritability
  • increased heart rate
  • stomach issues such as constipation
  • feelings of dread or doom
  • headaches
  • difficulty concentrating
  • sleeping problems
  • sweating
  • tremors
  • irrational fears
  • specific phobias

Anxiety can present itself with anxious thoughts such as worrying about social situations for those with a social phobia or other social anxiety disorders. 

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Types Of Anxiety Disorders

There are numerous types of anxiety disorders. Some suffering from mental illness may experience varying anxiety levels.

Types of mental health disorders which create anxiety include:

If a person experiences panic attacks caused by panic disorder, they may suffer from higher levels of anxiety which can require specific treatment options.

Those with PTSD will likely experience both depression and anxiety while those suffering from OCD or generalized anxiety disorder may suffer from symptoms of anxiety only. 

Additionally, those with certain mood disorders such as type I or type II bipolar disorder may experience a range of anxiety alongside depressive symptoms.

Symptoms Of Alcohol Use Disorder

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), symptoms associated with alcohol use disorder consist of the following:

  • participating in binge drinking
  • unsuccessfully putting an end to heavy drinking
  • increasing the amount of alcohol you drink
  • experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms
  • suffering from negative consequences of alcohol misuse such as losing a job, yet continuing to drink
  • intense cravings for alcohol

Alcohol dependence may be marked by the presence of severe, constant cravings for the substance.

Effects Of Alcohol Abuse

Some develop alcohol problems due to the pleasurable side effects it can cause. Alcohol is considered a central nervous system (CNS) depressant.

Alcohol increases the activity of the gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain, releasing dopamine and serotonin. This creates feelings of calmness and happiness.

The effects of alcohol may include released inhibitions which can cause one to participate in certain risky behaviors such as promiscuity or driving while under the influence. Additionally, accidental drownings or falls can occur.

Risk Factors For Co-Occurring Anxiety & Alcohol Use Disorders

There are several risk factors associated with a comorbid alcohol use disorder and anxiety disorder. Not only may some with anxiety disorders try to self-medicate with alcohol, they may turn to other forms of drug abuse.

Those participating in alcohol misuse may develop mental health symptoms. Those who have one of these disorders are at risk of developing the other.

Other risk factors of developing mental illness or an alcohol use disorder include a history of trauma and genetics.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment For Co-Occurring Anxiety & Alcohol Use Disorders

To receive effective treatment for an anxiety disorder and alcohol use disorder, an inpatient treatment program may be necessary if advised by your primary care doctor. 

With inpatient care, you remain at a treatment center and receive treatment while you’re surrounded by a comfortable environment and multidisciplinary healthcare professionals who can assist you.


Depending on the severity of substance abuse which has occurred, a person may require medical detox to begin alcohol use disorder treatment. 

Through detox, the unwanted and dangerous chemicals in your body brought on by alcohol use will be expelled, allowing you to stabilize and continue alcohol addiction treatment.


For more of a focus on anxiety treatment, psychotherapy options can be beneficial. Participating in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or group therapy can help you learn coping techniques and to better understand your dual diagnosis.


Medications may help assist those with certain anxiety disorders. Some of the medications which may be prescribed to you for anxiety include:

  • benzodiazepines
  • tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)
  • selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • serotonin and norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)

Some medications are also available to treat alcohol use disorder, including disulfiram, acamprosate, and naltrexone. 

Find Treatment In Ohio

If you or a loved one live with alcohol addiction and a co-occurring disorder involving anxiety, we can help. At Ohio Recovery Center, our clinicians provide evidence-based services such as medical detox, behavioral therapy, group therapy, and more.

Contact us today to speak with one of our healthcare professionals who can help determine the treatment plan which is right for you.

  1. Alcohol Research
  2. Alcohol Research
  3. Alcohol Research and Health
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,liver%20disease%2C%20and%20digestive%20problems
  5. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
  6. National Institute on Mental Health

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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