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Millennials, Anxiety, And Substance Use Disorders

Anxiety is a normal emotion, but millions of people experience it so that it disrupts their life negatively. Millennials have often been labeled as an” anxious generation.” Growing up in the shadow of a terror attack and never-ending wars, many Millennials have battled anxiety most of their lives. The world, after all, doesn’t always seem like a safe or stable place. Some people experience extreme anxiety or anxiety disorders.

Why Are Millennials So Anxious?

Anxiety doesn’t discriminate by generation, but Millennials have had unique pressures and challenges. One common theme is the lost generation. Many Millennials lost the opportunity to find a career trajectory. They got out of high school or college, and the financial crisis raged. Entry-level jobs were scarce, and many people started to do side gigs like pizza delivery or grading papers for college teachers. The American dream seemed far out of reach.

Many people lost jobs or watched their parents struggle to keep their homes. Even today, social unrest is a threat to our country. Climate change is happening quickly without any real solutions. Understandably, anyone of any age would feel anxious. But many Millennials feel like they’re missing out on opportunities that the previous generation had and that they can’t build wealth. Stability may also feel out of reach.

What Does Anxiety Feel Like?

Anxiety can make your heart race, cause a feeling of upset or dread, cause stomach issues, angry outbursts, and more. Physical sensations that an anxious person may display are increased heart rate, flushing, feeling their “heart in the throat” or “butterflies in their stomach.” Some people hyperventilate, shake, or feel like they can’t breathe. This is usually considered anxiety.

Many people, especially those diagnosed with PTSD, also experience depression alongside their anxiety.

Self-Medicating With Anxiety

Anxiety can take over a person’s life. Many people self-medicate to give themselves relief from an anxiety disorder, but this is a temporary solution. Sometimes the cycle of trauma continues. People who use substances are more likely to become victims of intimate partner violence or other violent crimes.

Self-medicating may feel natural, but eventually, the substance will wear off, and the trigger for the anxiety has not changed.  People with substance use disorders tend to feel more stress when they haven’t used the drug in 24 hours. Withdrawal symptoms can increase feelings of anxiety and make a person feel trapped.

Anxiety is an emotion that activates the body’s nervous system, causing a fight or flight reaction. For many people, this can cause an anxiety attack—some people who have experienced trauma or live with C-PTSD or PTSD experience anxiety and hypervigilance.

Substance Use Disorders And Anxiety

Many people who abuse substances are trying to self-medicate for anxiety disorders. PTSD/C-PTSD and generalized anxiety disorder are both mental health disorders that are treatable and manageable.

Some people may feel unable to cope with their anxiety and other feelings without using substances. People with anxiety disorder often turn to marijuana, alcohol, opioids, and other drugs to help them relax. However, once a pattern is started, it may take more of that substance to get the same effect.

Left untreated, anxiety and substance use disorder are not sustainable. They are progressive - meaning they get worse. They affect a person’s daily life. Addiction affects relationships, self-esteem, finances, and many other aspects of a person’s life. Self-medicating is a temporary solution to symptoms caused by anxiety.

Getting sober can help a person learn to live with an anxiety disorder. With new coping skills and therapy, they can learn to live in harmony with their mental health disorder and be substance-free.

Getting Help

Are you or somebody you love struggling with anxiety or substance use? We can help. Learn more about our holistic approach to recovery by giving us a call at 619-363-4767.




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Mark G
Mark Gladden brings both personal and professional experience to his role as co-founder of Present Moments Recovery. Now in long-term recovery himself after struggling with addiction for years, Mark understands firsthand the challenges men face in achieving and maintaining sobriety. It was this insight, combined with a desire to help others, that led Mark to establish Present Moments Recovery.

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Your first call will be greeted by one of our intake counselors who will be able to provide information on what program would be appropriate for your situation, as well as information about the process of getting treatment at our facility, if appropriate.

If Present Moments is the right fit for your current situation you will be speaking to Admissions Director Mark Gladden, who will be your guide throughout the process of arranging travel and undergoing an initial detox (if necessary). Mark has been the guide for dozens of men and women who have gotten their lives back by entering treatment at Present Moments. He has earned his reputation as being truly dedicated to the recovery of others. Mark will be the one to ‘show you the ropes’ when it comes to admitting to our facility for treatment

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