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The Link Between Childhood Anxiety and Adult Substance Abuse

man struggles with anxiety

Addiction and mental illness share a close and troubling relationship. Co-occurring mental health disorders are extremely common in people struggling with addiction, and substance abuse can lead to poor or worsening mental health. Mental health issues often begin in childhood or adolescence, with the average age of drug dependence occurring only a bit later, at the age of nineteen. Research has continued to prove that childhood trauma and anxiety increase the risk of addiction issues later in life in several ways, and it may be necessary for many adults in recovery to focus on healing from childhood pain to ensure lasting sobriety.

Childhood Anxiety and Substance Abuse

Research has shown that when childhood anxiety is left untreated, it often leads to chronic anxiety disorder, depression, and substance abuse in adults. Additionally, childhood separation anxiety has been directly linked to panic disorder and depression in early adulthood, both of which can lead to substance abuse as a coping mechanism. While childhood anxiety can occur in anyone, children who experience abuse directly or witness abuse in the home are more vulnerable to anxiety and panic attacks. One study found that mental health disorders in children and adolescents usually occur around three years before the child or young adult begins abusing substances.

Treating Mental Health and Addiction Together

Because most individuals who experience untreated childhood anxiety go on to develop chronic anxiety, depression, or other mood disorders, it is important to seek quality mental health care and discuss adverse childhood experiences as well as current sources of stress. For those with a substance use disorder, treating the addiction alongside co-occurring mental health disorders is the only way to experience true healing and enjoy lasting sobriety and mental wellness. Common mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety can be well managed with therapy and/or various other treatments.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, now is the time to reach out for help. At Arbor Behavioral Healthcare, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals who understand addiction in all its forms. The Arbor uses 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 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 today at 844-413-2690.