Anxiety and Substance Abuse Treatment

Treatment for drug and alcohol addictions is a combination of psychological, behavioral, and addiction skills therapy. At The Villa Treatment Center, we support every client through each step of the recovery process with an understanding that not every person is alike in terms of their illness. Although we are an addiction recovery center first, we also offer support treatment for anxiety disorders and other mental illnesses and connect our clients with the appropriate outside psychological assistance they need.

Our treatment center’s therapy options for addiction and co-occurring anxiety disorders from individual therapy to alternative group therapies are cohesive, and we take each client’s personal history and medical treatment into consideration. Dual diagnosis and simultaneous treatment for both addiction and stress is the key to full recovery. Anxiety is one of the disorders that we tailor substance abuse therapy for at The Villa Treatment Center and there is a variety of stress classifications. This disorder isn’t something that should be feared, but understood and redirected.

Anxiety Is Meant to Protect Us

Within the body, the sympathetic nervous system activates our action response. If and when we are in danger, this part of the nervous system helps the body to conserve energy throughout all of the body’s systems and to concentrate on the fight or flight response. When you’re in the moment, throughout evolution and the history of man and survival, of impending danger your body will focus all your energy on movement of the muscles and reactions to survive.

Why and How the Body Responds To Stress?

It makes sense for the body to conduct reactions this way; if the body were to expend all its energy on digestion or immune system reactions, there wouldn’t be enough quick bursts of energy to help you run away from danger or defend yourself. For those of us who cannot come down from these anxious feelings causing them to become chronic, it can be too much to control. Normally after a flight or fight response from the sympathetic nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system will take control and bring the body back to a calm level.

As people develop chronic anxiety disorders, they can become dependent on drugs and alcohol to help them bring the body back down to a calm center. Unfortunately with drugs and alcohol, the calm only lasts for a short time. Paradoxically, drugs and alcohol can also bring about heightened levels of anxiety and make these symptoms worse as time goes on. Before we can explain the reason many people with anxiety disorders develop addictions, we should explain the different types of anxiety.

Types of Anxiety Disorders


General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

This type of anxiety is healthy and we all experience it, no matter who we are. Again, anxiety is not something that is necessarily always a bad thing. It was inherently a way to survive in the Prehistoric Era.

Acute Stress

Acute stress can be a delayed reaction to a recent event that was traumatic for the individual. On average, response time is between a few days to a month. The effects of this anxiety can become recurring.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsession with repetitive ‘checking’ is the crux of this anxiety disorder. It’s normal to check your alarm to make sure you’ve set it, but checking it every five minutes until you’re supposed to awaken is not. This obsession with counting and checking can become overwhelming if left untreated.

Panic Disorder

Many types of anxiety have warning signs and symptoms a person can discern before an attack takes place. With panic disorders, anxiety can happen without any prior warning and be disproportionate to the present situation. Panic disorder creates intense fear and panic in an instant. Those with this type of anxiety live in fear and cannot function properly, worrying constantly that an attack will hit them at any given moment.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder causes a feeling of extreme anxiety and even fear about interacting with people in social settings. Though this anxiety is almost always misplaced, it can be debilitating to sufferers who struggle to engage socially.


Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder that manifests itself through symptoms such as a fear of entering certain spaces that feel unsafe, including leaving their own houses, visiting crowded places, or even riding in cars. If left untreated, agoraphobia can force sufferers to stay confined to “safe” spaces out of fear and stress.

Specific Phobia

Specific phobias involve anxiety and fear of a certain experience, thing, or perceived danger. Phobias can cover a wide range of fears, from commonplace to unique, but all can be a major burden to sufferers and their wellbeing.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a late onset anxiety of intense danger after a traumatic experience. This type of mental stress can lead to nightmares, fear and mistrust of others, isolation, and other serious issues that disrupt healthy living.

Addiction and Anxiety Therapy at The Villa

Treatment for anxiety disorders and co-occurring addictions can be conducted in an assortment of ways, but we at The Villa Treatment Center focus on individual counseling. Through individual counseling, the therapist can help an individual work through the anxiety of their previous trauma that led to a dependency on drugs and alcohol.

The therapist can help provide those ridden with fears of recurring anxiety a set of alternative activities to counter these feelings of substance dependency and to understand where they come from. Individual counseling in this case is through cognitive behavioral therapy that becomes very interactive inside and outside of therapy sessions. There are a set of rules and alternative reactions put into place, alongside the changing of harmful thought processes.

Anxiety is a hijacking of the mind and misinterpretation of fear. Learning to recognize feelings of anxiety and how they affect us is the first step in rehabilitation. Once we understand that we are actively experiencing an anxiety attack of some kind, we must take control of our thoughts and bring our minds back to a relaxed state. Learning to rely on alternative ways of thinking and not on our addiction is the way we get through anxiety and recover from substance dependence. In addition to individual therapy, treatment can be supplemented by antidepressants or other medications when anxiety disorders are advanced. We will recommend a psychiatrist to prescribe medication if needed outside of our facility and help the individual to manage it in a healthy and helpful way.

If you or anyone you know suffers from anxiety and abuses alcohol or drugs to overcome these issues, please call The Villa Treatment Center to discuss your treatment options. We understand this is a difficult time and you need support for recovery.