Treatment providers are waiting for your call:

(855) 826-4464

Self-Medicating Anxiety: Prescription Painkiller Abuse

by Jeffrey Juergens ❘  

The “Prescription” for Anxiety

Anyone who suffers from an anxiety disorder is all too familiar with this question from well-meaning friends and loved ones:

Why can’t you just relax and stop obsessing?

For people with anxiety, it’s hard to explain to others how an emotion can cripple an otherwise successful person. Even more than that, it’s hard to believe that an emotion or feeling can drive us to do self-destructive things.

Everything else in your life fades away, your eyes glaze over and your mind is consumed with fear, frustration and uneasiness.

- Chris's wife, describing what he's like when she sees anxiety strike him

Prescription drugs are insidious primarily because they come with the proven caveat that they are medication. When I was in my addiction, I leaned on the fact that what I was doing was doctor-prescribed. It helped me to cope with the means with which I was using to get the pills.

Get Help During COVID-19

With just 30 days at a rehab center, you can get clean and sober, start therapy, join a support group, and learn ways to manage your cravings.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Feelings of Hydrocodone and Oxycodone

  • The (temporary) “Good” – A wash of relief over my whole body. Everything became manageable and slowed down. The fear and self-loathing disappeared. I had control over everything in my life for a time.
  • The Bad – It didn’t take long for me to begin to stumble in public, talk for hours on end without listening, and get painful constipation.
  • The Ugly – Nodding off at Christmas, getting in 3 car accidents in one day, passing out in public and overdosing.

Despite the horrifying consequences of the bad and the ugly, I always returned to the chase of the “good.” Any addict will tell you that selective memory, or “not playing the tape all the way through,” is why we go back to our drugs or behavior of choice.

Dealing with Anxiety Post-Addiction

At the core of all of this self-destruction was the desire to escape; though I’ve been sober for a long time now, the anxiety is still there.

So what are we supposed to do when we can’t use but still need relief? For me, it starts with distracting myself using Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). In fact, my wife knows when I’m using it because I’ll go upstairs, take a bath and play this:

When you’re in the midst of dealing with anxiety, distraction is a great ally. It allows you to recapture control over the situation. In the old days, I’d distract myself by taking drugs, drinking alcohol or binge eating. Now, I treat myself with respect. I find joy and pleasure in the things that build me up — like some woodsy country music and a lavender bath (yeah, I said it). If you’re not in the place where you can make decisions that respect yourself, there is help available. Contact a treatment provider today to discuss treatment options.

Related Posts

Don’t Kick Yourself When You’re Down – Take Control

Jeffrey Juergens ❘

Life is full of obstacles, challenges, and trials, but you choose how you take control and face them. When you relapse, make the decision to get back up.

Why Alcohol Is the Deadliest Drug

Kelly Fitzgerald ❘

There is a tendency to believe alcohol is ok, not dangerous, and an acceptable form of relaxation, but alcohol is actually the deadliest drug of all.

How Rehab, Sobriety, and Diet Transformed Jenna Jameson

Destiny Bezrutczyk ❘

Former adult film star and author, Jenna Jameson, talks about over-prescribing of Opiates by doctor after pregnancy, alcoholism, and rehab at Betty Ford.