How to Deal With Anxiety Without Substance Abuse

Unwanted feelings like anxiety can often lead a person to begin abusing drugs and alcohol. Many individuals use these substances to numb the feelings temporarily and feel more relaxed around other people, others do so to cope with feelings of anxiety around relationships, work, and school. Over time, frequent use of these substances can result in negative consequences. We’re going to talk about how you can fight back against anxiety without resorting to substance abuse. 

Definition of Anxiety

Anxiety is something that we all have felt some time in our lives. However, for some people, anxiety can be a crippling, overwhelming feeling that can get in the way of their daily lives. It affects a person physically and emotionally, which can significantly affect a person’s work, studies, relationships, and physical health. 

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, like fear or worry, that can range from mild to severe. These feelings are often constant and can cause more severe issues like panic disorders, phobias, social anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety can be experienced differently from person-to-person, which means people can develop different coping mechanisms for it. Generally, those who suffer from anxiety often deal with symptoms such as:

  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Feelings of tightness in the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Increased heart rate or palpitations
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tensions in the muscle
  • Insomnia or difficulty in sleeping
  • Loss of concentration
  • Irritability or mood swings
  • Paranoia

In some situations, some people tend to avoid any setting that could make them feel anxious like social gatherings, work, and even outings. They tend to withdraw from interactions with others and usually use drugs and alcohol to cope with the situation. While these substances may sound “helpful” at the moment, they can actually make anxiety worse in the long-run. So what can you do to avoid anxiety without turning to drug and alcohol use?

5 Ways to Cope With Anxiety Without the Use of Drugs

Chronic anxiety can affect a person’s brain and if they take drugs or alcohol to deal with it, the anxiety can only. There are plenty of self-help measures that you can take in order to try and deal with anxiety in a safe, healthy way. Here’s what you need to do: 

  1. Mindfulness and Meditation – Mindfulness is a good technique to help you be in tune with yourself, your emotions, your thoughts, and your body. Meditation also helps relax your nerves and calm your anxiety whenever it sets in. What you can do is sit or stand in a relaxed position and breathe in deeply. Taking a slow breath in and holding it for about four seconds before releasing. Always bring your attention to your breath and relax your mind as it wanders. As you do so, acknowledge your thoughts without judgment and then release while focusing your breathing once more. Do this a few times before engaging in any activity that makes you anxious and you will notice that over time, you no longer feel as anxious as you were. Keep in mind that mindfulness is a skill that you can learn and is something that requires patience and lots of practice. The main benefit of doing this is to help your mind and body relax as you focus on the present rather than anything that makes you feel anxious. Anxiety makes our minds wander to dark and negative places. Mindfulness, in general, helps you stay focused on what makes you happy and relaxed, which helps fight against anxiety. 
  2. Undergo Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT – CBT helps individuals who are dealing with anxiety by identifying, challenging, and altering their thought processes to help reduce the symptoms. This is usually done under trained psychologists or health care professionals in a structured treatment plan in a specific time frame. Its main goal is to allow an individual to participate in activities outside therapy without anxious feelings by helping them re-frame their negative thought process. 
  3. Do Yoga – Yoga us somewhat similar to mindfulness and meditation in the sense that it is a practice focused on reducing stress and focusing on relaxation and self. This practice helps a person get more in touch with their body and become calmer. Yoga generally teaches different breathing techniques and helps a person stretch their muscles through poses that test flexibility and endurance.
  4. Biofeedback – This is a research-based treatment used for anxiety. This treatment teaches you how to respond to anxious thoughts and feelings appropriately with the use of electronic instruments. This then displays the physiological processes of your body so you can change those processes voluntarily. It gives you the chance to see your responses to stress and at the same time teach you techniques on how to manage and control them without the use of drugs or alcohol. 
  5. Lifestyle changes – Reducing anxiety can be done through healthy lifestyle changes. When you change your lifestyle, you are likely to increase your emotional well-being which will help fight against anxiety. You can do this by eating healthily or getting regular exercise. Eating a good balance of fruit and vegetables can stimulate your brain and benefit your mental health. Exercising can also help release pent-up stress and at the same time increases your brain’s production of dopamine (the happy hormone).  

Getting enough sleep is also vital as sleep deprivation will only make your anxiety much worse. Sleep deprivation is something people with anxiety often struggle with because their minds are racing at all hours of the night. Take time to rest, meditate, read a book, listen to music, go out with friends, or find quiet time by yourself to help reduce anxiety. These kinds of practices can help reduce anxiety and help a person live a healthier life, stress-free!

You Can Overcome Anxiety Without Drugs/Alcohol

If you are suffering from anxiety right now and you feel like you “need” drugs and alcohol to stay calm, don’t give in. This is a lie that you have been brought to believe. Avoid using drugs and alcohol to cope with anxiety. Use the methods we’ve taught you today, or find other ones that work best for you! There are hundreds of options out there for you to choose from to reduce anxiety, of which alcohol and drugs are not.