Written By: Fiona Stockard

How Do I Handle Anxiety Without Drugs?

Anxiety is a normal human emotion that everyone experiences. In fact, it’s almost impossible not to experience anxiety in real-life recovery from drugs and alcohol. When first getting sober, it’s hard to deal with everyday situations like work, school, treatment, or personal relationships. In serious cases, anxiety can interrupt a person’s ability to live a healthy life.

What Is Anxiety?

There are a few different classifications of Anxiety Disorders. The most common include:

Panic Disorder

Individuals who experience Panic Disorder become very fearful and have attacks of sudden terror. Think things like panic attacks. During a panic attack you feel chest pain, have an increased heart rate, and feel like you can’t breathe. You’ll sweat a lot (gross!).

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)


Individuals with OCD have constant thoughts and fears, which force them to act in certain rituals or routines. These obsessions are like compulsions, which have to be fulfilled in order to experience relief.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Individuals with PTSD have experienced a traumatic event. This can take the form of sexual abuse, physical abuse, mental abuse, a near death experience, or plain old death. The individual then experiences the aftereffects of this traumatic event, which manifest in the form of fearful, racing thoughts and memories. In extreme cases of PTSD it’s recommended to look into trauma treatment.

General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)

Individuals with GAD or SAD suffer from excessive worry, fear, nervousness, and tension. Being in social settings can increase this anxiety. That’s been my experience. If I’m dealing with anxiety and go out with friends, I’ll end up stuck in my head wondering what others are thinking of me.

What Are Signs of Anxiety?

  • Shortness of Breath
  • Hyperventilation
  • Increased Heart Rate
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Clammy Hands
  • Obsessive Thoughts
  • Ritual Behaviors
  • Nightmares and Night-Terrors
  • Fear
  • Upset Stomach

What Are Some Tips to Cope With Anxiety For Women?


  • Meditation and Deep-Breathing
  • Prayer
  • Yoga
  • Positive Affirmations
  • Exercise
  • Acceptance
  • Find a Distraction
  • Sleep
  • Reach Out For Help
  • Talk to Your Sponsor/Therapist/Sober Supports
  • Utilize a Personal Interest (Reading, Journaling, Etc.)

Remember, anxiety is common for all people, especially addicts! It’s often helpful to pause, take a deep breath, and remember that you’re safe in the moment. If you need professional help, there are treatment centers that deal with dual diagnosis. This is when substance abuse is linked with a mental health issue.

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