Addiction and anxiety can be a deadly duo. Many people suffering from anxiety discover that certain substances such as alcohol or opiates will numb the psychic pain of anxiety. These substances don’t help heal the anxiety in any way; the serotonin remains bound and out of circulation, but the substances mask how miserable that feels. This leads to a vicious cycle of needing to use substances in order to function because the anxiety can be so debilitating. Alcohol is particularly insidious in this cycle, as alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, which means that it increases overall physiological anxiety. In short, it makes things worse, but the temporary numbing feels so much better than feeling the anxiety, and it increases the addictive quality of the drug.
Proper treatment for anxiety, like proper treatment for addiction, may also include practices like prayer, reading from the scripture, and partaking in activities with healthy, positive people from your community. But as with any medical illness, seeking the correct medical treatment for anxiety will include becoming educated about your illness, discussing it with the appropriate doctors and specialists, and learning about all your options, including medication. Many of the newer medications target serotonin and actually help address the neurobiological cause of anxiety, but they don’t just treat the symptoms. These medications feel much more subtle and gentle in their effect; they aren’t numbing, and they don’t make you feel high or euphoric. They just help you feel normal to able to manage your life’s ups and downs.
Changing your attitude and behavior can also help you regain your faith and use it to combat anxiety, along with your medical treatment. Catching yourself when you think negative thoughts out of habit can be an important component of self-care for anxiety. Getting fresh air and exercise can do wonders, even if your level of fitness isn’t that great; a five-minute brisk walk will increase serotonin and help start a new and positive cycle in which feeling better leads to being more positive and hopeful, which in turn leads to restoring faith and making it easier to weather the next bout. And connecting with people who are strong in their faith can be inspiring and supportive. Reach out, get connected and let such people in. You may find your willingness to connect with others helps them too.
In addition, if you just let God take care of anything that is bothering you, He will make sure that you have what you need to keep going. It isn’t easy to just hand everything over to God. Prayer is an integral part of making it through this situation. If you don’t know what to pray for, just pray for God’s will to be done. You can pray for strength, comfort, guidance, discernment, forgiveness, acceptance and peace, and anything else you feel you need.
No matter what happens to you in your life, you need to continue your prayers. Many families have spent years, even decades, in prayer. With faith, they continue to hope for the miracle of restoration. Many have been blessed to see these prayers answered. Remember, with God, all things are possible.