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Can Phobias Lead to Substance Abuse?

man deals with phobias and stress

When a person experiences a fear of a specific thing or circumstance that is not logically associated with an actual threat, this fear may be defined as a phobia.  Phobias can create crippling anxiety and panic, and make seemingly simple tasks and experiences nearly impossible. As with many other mental illnesses, there is a higher rate of substance abuse found in those with phobias than in the general population.  Drugs and alcohol are often used as coping strategies for those suffering from a debilitating fear, but abusing substances will only worsen mental health and potentially lead to addiction.  Phobias are one of the most common forms of mental illness in the US, with approximately ten percent of the population having at least one phobia.  Common phobias include fear of flying, fear of driving in cars, fear of spiders, and fear of confined spaces. A severe phobia may cause the individual to avoid situations where they feel they might encounter their fear.  People with this mental illness usually understand that their fear is not based on logic, but they are still unable to control their visceral reactions. This affliction can get in the way of living a normal, productive life by creating problems at work and in relationships.  

When Fear Is Crippling

People suffering from phobias often turn to drugs or alcohol to calm their fear and attempt to function normally.  For example, a person with a phobia of flying may consume large quantities of alcohol before and during a flight. Some people believe the only way they can get through facing their phobias is to inebriate themselves.  Drugs that induce feeling of euphoria, such as opiate pain relievers, are also commonly used to distract from overwhelming fear. Treating phobias with drugs and alcohol is only a temporary fix, and will likely lead to increased phobic symptoms in the future.  Someone who is struggling with substance abuse and a severe phobia should seek professional treatment that addresses addiction along with co-occurring disorders.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and mental health issues, now is the time to reach out for help.  At Arbor Behavioral Healthcare, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms.  We use an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, and at The Arbor you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan.  We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit, so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 844-413-2690.