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Co-Occurring Anxiety And Substance Abuse in Teens

Adolescence is an anxious time in general — but when it reaches a crisis point, we can help.

Anxiety is a natural human reaction that serves a real purpose as a survival mechanism. It functions as an alarm that is activated when there is a danger or threat. Physical manifestations — rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms, trembling hands — are all part of the body’s “fight or flight” response that occurs instantly in the face of perceived danger. In fact, it occurs a few seconds before the thinking and judgment part of the brain can assess and process the threat. 

When the brain decides it’s safe, the fight or flight response goes away and the body relaxes. But if it doesn’t, the response continues — including the physical and emotional signs of anxiety.

A certain amount of anxiety is perfectly normal. After all, a bit of adrenaline can provide a slight edge when it comes to modern day “threats” like a major exam, class presentation, sports, performance or a big date. The problem arises when the anxiety becomes so intense and consistent that it interferes with your teen’s ability to be their best.

Types of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition in the U.S., and they affect all age groups, including teens. While there are several subsets of anxiety disorders, they all interfere with a person’s wellbeing and ability to find happiness in everyday life. A few common types of anxiety disorders include:

Signs of Anxiety in Teens

If your teen suffers from an anxiety disorder, you may have noticed its physical signs, such as: 

Your teen may be more reluctant to talk about the emotional symptoms of anxiety. He or she may be fearful for long periods of time, and might have struggled to socialize, manage family relationships and friendships, and maintain academics and extracurricular interests. Your teen may have turned to substances like drugs or alcohol as a way of feeling better in the short term. 

Anxiety Treatment for Teens

Because anxiety is such a common behavioral health condition, we know a lot about it. There are a number of ways to treat teens that suffer from both anxiety and substance use disorders.

Our first priority is to make sure your teen is safe and stable. That’s why we usually begin with medical detox, eliminating any toxic substances safely and comfortably. Then, we’ll collaborate with you to understand your teen’s substance abuse and to identify any co-occurring mental health conditions like anxiety, trauma or other disorders. 

Safe Landing is only for teens, so our therapy approaches are designed exclusively for them. In particular, cognitive behavioral therapy, emotional regulation, and self-esteem building are effective ways of treating anxiety in teens. In addition, our wellness program (featuring yoga and mindfulness techniques) will help your teen learn ways of dealing with anxiety without having to turn to substances for help. They’ll also make new, sober friends who understand them and the challenges they face.

Your child deserves to know peace and healing. Safe Landing can help to break the cycle of anxiety and addiction. Give us a call to learn more. 

Imagine your teen’s possibilities beyond anxiety.

Safe Landing will give them the tools to make it happen. Tell us a little bit about you or your loved one: