If you’re struggling with anxiety, you might benefit from the proper medication. The intake of the right medication is one of the key components in overcoming anxiety disorders. That’s why you’ll need a team of highly trained and experienced mental health professionals to prescribe the best anti-anxiety medication for you. Anxiety can have a major impact on a person’s life.
Unfortunately, some anxiety medications are addictive and lead many people down the dark path of drug abuse. You want to treat your anxiety without developing an even bigger problem — being drug dependent and addicted. So check out this quick guide to learn more about non-addictive anxiety medications, prescription addiction, and how to safely treat your anxiety.
Table of Contents
- 1 How Can I Tell if I Have a Substance Abuse Problem?
- 2 Common Non-addictive Anxiety Medications
- 3 Will a Prescription Medication Cure My Anxiety?
- 4 Why Do Anxiety Medications Have Uncomfortable Side Effects?
- 5 Is It Okay to Drink Alcohol and Take My Medication at the Same Time?
- 6 What Should I Do if My Medication Isn’t Working?
- 7 Can I Try an Anxiety Medication Without a Prescription?
- 8 How Can I Overcome My Addiction to Prescription Anxiety Medication?
- 9 Treat Your Anxiety the Healthy Way
How Can I Tell if I Have a Substance Abuse Problem?
Although benzodiazepines and other habit-forming medications are often very effective at treating anxiety, you need to know how to spot the signs of addiction before things spiral out of control. Constant cravings are a big indicator that you have a drug problem. You may find yourself thinking about the drug at all hours, and you might find that you get very impatient when something gets in the way of your next dose.
If you intentionally take more than your prescribed dose or mix it with other substances to achieve a high, then that’s a clear sign that you are addicted. When you take a prescription medication, you must only use it for its intended purpose and follow the dosage as prescribed. Seek drug treatment immediately if you continue to take a prescription medication despite its negative impact on your health, happiness, career, schooling, or some other aspect of your life.
Common Non-addictive Anxiety Medications
If you’ve been diagnosed with anxiety disorder, you can expect your doctor to prescribe you medication for better, faster, and more effective treatment. Of course, this is in combination with other treatment options like Talk Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and joining support groups.
There are five types of anxiety disorders, namely:
- Panic Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Social Phobia (or Social Anxiety Disorder)
If you’ve been diagnosed with any of these disorders above, you can expect the following medications to be prescribed. Here’s what you need to know about these medications.
Citalopram is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) that works by allowing important neural receptors to absorb more serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain. Higher serotonin levels typically make patients happier, calmer, and less prone to panic attacks.
When a patient first starts taking citalopram, the expected side effects are nausea, increased sweating, diarrhea, headache, dry mouth, fatigue, restlessness, loss of libido, and insomnia. These symptoms should go away after a few weeks. Other common SSRIs include escitalopram, fluoxetine, paroxetine, and sertraline.
Some patients respond to selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) better than SSRIs. Duloxetine is one of the most popular SNRIs. It has many of the same side effects as most SSRIs, and it may also cause constipation and loss of appetite.
Doctors may prescribe other SNRIs such as desvenlafaxine, levomilnacipran, and venlafaxine to treat patients who suffer from panic attacks or anxiety.
Doctors traditionally prescribe beta blockers to treat high blood pressure, arrhythmia, and angina-related chest pain. Unlike most other anxiety medications, patients do not take beta blockers every day. Instead, doctors instruct patients to only take these drugs to stop emerging panic attacks and anxiety episodes.
Many patients take beta blockers like propranolol during stressful experiences or when they anticipate running into certain triggers. Patients typically take beta blockers in conjunction with an SSRI or some other type of daily anxiety medication.
Compared to other anxiety medications, buspirone has very few side effects. Nonetheless, the drug is very effective at regulating patients’ serotonin levels. Many doctors prescribe buspirone or another azapirone alongside an SSRI or SNRI to enhance positive the effects of these drugs and minimize their sexual side effects.
Hydroxyzine (brand name Vistaril) is an antihistamine used to treat allergic reactions. However, one of its off-label use is to help control anxiety and panic attacks. Hydroxyzine is also given to a patient before surgery to help control anxiety levels.
Other antidepressants or antianxiety medications used to help control anxiety, depression, and panic attacks prescribed for other mental health disorders are — Xanax, Buspar, Effexor, Zoloft, Valium, Lexapro, Prozac, Lorazepam (Ativan) and Gabapentin.
Will a Prescription Medication Cure My Anxiety?
The symptoms of anxiety and the effectiveness of medications vary greatly between patients. While one patient may respond well to anxiety medication, another patient may not see any results from the same medication. For this reason, you may have to try a few different medications before you find one that works for you.
Anxiety is not something that doctors can cure like the common cold, and many patients require more than medication alone to treat their anxiety. Because the root causes and manifestations of anxiety are so unique for each patient, most doctors consider psychotherapy as a crucial component of anxiety treatment. A therapist will help you understand your triggers and develop effective coping mechanisms that you can use in everyday life to deal with the symptoms of your anxiety.
Why Do Anxiety Medications Have Uncomfortable Side Effects?
Anxiety medications fundamentally alter your brain’s chemical processes. When you first start taking a prescription anxiety medication, you may experience a wide range of uncomfortable side effects as your body adjusts to hormonal changes.
Many symptoms should greatly diminish short-term or completely go away after weeks. But other symptoms may persist for months after you stop taking the drug.
You may want to immediately stop taking the medication due to its uncomfortable side effects, but you shouldn’t be too hasty. Suddenly quitting a medication can result in worse anxiety symptoms, major hormonal shifts, and other uncomfortable side effects.
If you really do not like your anxiety medication, then you should speak to your doctor to find a solution. They will likely wean you off the drug and look for an alternative medication if you really don’t want to keep taking your current prescription.
Is It Okay to Drink Alcohol and Take My Medication at the Same Time?
Drug interactions vary widely between anxiety medications. With that in mind, you should ask your doctor about any potential interactions with alcohol. If you find it difficult to regulate your alcohol intake despite your doctor’s recommendations, then you should seek treatment for alcohol addiction as soon as possible.
What Should I Do if My Medication Isn’t Working?
Some patients notice a reduction in the effectiveness of their prescribed medications over time. If you’re currently experiencing this, then you should tell your doctor immediately. They will increase your dose, put you on another medication, or explore other options to treat your symptoms.
You may be tempted to increase your dose without telling your doctor, but this is a very bad idea. The wrong dose can damage your organs, mess with your serotonin levels, and worsen your symptoms, so you should always follow your doctor’s instructions when taking a prescription medication.
Can I Try an Anxiety Medication Without a Prescription?
You can’t buy antianxiety medications over the counter without a prescription because these are controlled drugs. Never take antianxiety medications that are not prescribed to you by your doctor. Your doctor has to take many different aspects of your health and lifestyle into account before prescribing a medication.
By taking a drug without your doctor’s knowledge or approval, you run the risk of developing an addiction, overdosing, aggravating a preexisting medical condition, or experiencing a negative drug interaction.
Moreover, possessing a controlled substance without a prescription is illegal and could result in hefty fines, jail time, loss of employment, and other serious problems. If you’re curious about a certain anxiety medication, then you should simply ask your doctor about it. They will determine if it’s a good fit for you.
How Can I Overcome My Addiction to Prescription Anxiety Medication?
Getting hooked on a prescription anxiety medication is considered as a substance use disorder. Struggling with addiction and anxiety at the same time can be a nightmare. You might feel like your anxiety will become completely unmanageable if you stop abusing your medication, but drug addiction is simply not sustainable.
To maximize your odds of achieving sobriety while still getting the help that you need for your anxiety, you should seriously consider enrolling in a dual-diagnosis treatment program at a reputable addiction recovery center that offers both addiction treatment and treatment of anxiety.
Once you suddenly quit an addictive substance, your body will start to go through withdrawal. Common symptoms of drug withdrawal include hallucinations, severe anxiety, panic attacks, sweating, seizures, cardiac issues, aches and pains, and a variety of other dangerous and uncomfortable symptoms.
Heavy or prolonged use of a substance increases your odds of experiencing the worst withdrawal symptoms. Thus, depending on the severity of your addiction, healthcare professionals may recommend an inpatient stay at a detox center.
In a detox program, medical staff and addiction professionals will constantly monitor you to make sure that you’re as safe and comfortable as possible as you go through withdrawal. Once you make it through the withdrawal process, you and the recovery center’s addiction professionals will devise a treatment program that suits your unique needs.
Your dual-diagnosis treatment program will include a combination of group therapy, psychotherapy, healthy activities, and other therapies to help you build the necessary coping mechanisms to deal with your anxiety and maintain long-term sobriety.
Treat Your Anxiety the Healthy Way
You shouldn’t let anxiety control your life, but you don’t want to let an addictive medication control you either. Thankfully, doctors have found effective combinations of prescription drugs and therapies to treat your symptoms while minimizing the risk of addiction.
You deserve to be happy and healthy, so if you currently struggle with addiction or want to find the safest and healthiest way to treat your anxiety, then you need to reach out to Recreate Life Counseling as soon as possible to explore your options.