Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is one of the most challenging anxiety disorders to cope with due to the sense of experiencing anxiety practically all the time. When individuals with GAD attempt to decrease their anxiety, they may become even more anxious because many times an individual is unable to identify specific triggers. Over time, they start attempting to avoid anything that might serve as a trigger for their anxiety. However, since they can’t necessarily identify what leads to worsening of their symptoms, they begin avoiding people, places, or objects because they could be potential triggers. The more they cut themselves off from interactions with others and their surroundings without a significant decrease in their symptoms, the more anxious they become. The increase in anxiety is often accompanied by a sense of helplessness and hopelessness about the future. As their distress builds up so does muscle tension often leading to pain, both of which may seem to spiral out of control until the individual is feeling so overwhelmed it becomes difficult to function normally in any area of their life.
It is also not unusual for anxiety to be combined with one or more other problems. A frequent co-occurring condition is substance abuse. This may develop due to substances being used in an effort to decrease the anxiety, however when both occur together it becomes all the more likely the individual will feel as if their world is no longer under their control. They may begin to feel desperate to discover a way to reclaim their life, but the harder they try to accomplish this goal, the worse their anxiety becomes which can lead to an increase in the substance use to calm themselves down. Often when adding other substances to the mix, they tell themselves they will just use them long enough to get a handle on their anxiety, as time goes on without this occurring the greater the risk that they will develop at least one other substance use disorder. When they realize this has occurred their sense of self-efficacy plummets until they no longer attempt to fight either the anxiety or substance abuse problems. If severe enough, this combination of substance abuse related problems, anxiety symptoms, thoughts associated with their sense of hopelessness/helplessness, avoidance, and other problem behaviors can lead to thoughts of suicide or actual attempts.
At Mount Regis we know how out of control and hopeless you may feel if you are experiencing an anxiety disorder with one or more co-occurring substance use disorders. We have the trained staff to help with both types of disorders at the same time and can help re-establish a sense of optimism about your future.
Why Should You Consider Treatment For Anxiety at Mount Regis?
At Mount Regis we know how difficult your life can become when you are forced to live with seemingly relentless anxiety especially when you can’t predict what will worsen it and can’t find the strategies to manage it. While some surprises in life are nice, constant unpredictability over why your already distressed level of anxiety increases leads to a sense of powerlessness. Combined with the effects of one or more substance use disorders, your anxiety may feel as if it’s unbearable.
At Mount Regis we can help you learn strategies to decrease your symptoms of anxiety while also helping you begin to address you substance abuse issues. While some may tell you it is not possible to treat more than one of these problems at a time, we have specially trained staff who have successfully helped numerous individuals begin to recover from both at the same time. It’s not easy, but once you begin to experience the difference in both sets of symptoms you will be able to feel hopeful again about your future and redevelop confidence in your ability to act in ways that lead to a positive tomorrow.
Program Philosophy and Benefits
At Mount Regis we always approach everyone who comes to us for help as an individual and consider the entire person, both in terms of internal resources and strengths in addition to their symptoms and needs when determining the best course of action for treatment. Many people experiencing GAD with one or more co-occurring substance abuse problems don’t recognize how each functions to worsen the other. We help you gain insight into how each condition you’re experiencing contributes to your overall sense of hopelessness and the inability to do anything to effect even small changes in your life.
Once you’ve come to us for help you have demonstrated the ability to make positive decisions and act to improve your well-being and quality of life. This is the hardest step when you have tried other options that weren’t successful. When you’re with us we will not only help you develop new skills to combat your problems and life stress, but help you learn to think in healthier ways and help you determine the best strategies for reintegrating into your family and social network. We will support you every step of the way.
At Mount Regis we know that every individual who comes to us has unique strengths and abilities that can provide them with a strong foundation from which to begin implementing difficult changes in their life. While you may not feel this is the case for you, we guarantee we can help you find these inner strengths and learn how they can be of value in your treatment process. We also know that each individual’s unique qualities can contribute in positive ways to others efforts during treatment. At Mount Regis we operate under the philosophy that every person has something to contribute to the well-being of others.
Treatment for GAD at Mount Regis
Treatment for co-occurring anxiety and substance abuse is complex. Special care needs to be taken given that withdrawal symptoms for many substances include fear and anxiety symptoms for which medication is used. Additionally, anxiety is frequently treated with medication to alleviate the physiological over-excitement in the brain and the most commonly used anti-anxiety medication have a high risk of abuse especially for individuals who already have experienced a substance abuse problem. Treatments at Mount Regis include:
Detox – For individuals who are at risk for withdrawal symptoms due to their co-occurring substance abuse disorder may be provided with detox services to make the process as humane as possible and begin treatment for their anxiety disorder as soon as is medically advisable.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – CBT for GAD is based on the theory that people with GAD perceive the world as filled with threats and danger which results in maladaptive thoughts feelings, behaviors and physiological responses. Specific thoughts that are targeted involve unconscious responses to potential threats in the form of telling oneself that danger is present. This leads to heightened anxiety, avoidance behavior, and muscle tension. CBT aims at first getting the person to recognize the internal monologue that is occurring internally regarding their belief they are constantly in danger then challenging and replacing these thoughts with more accurate and adaptive thoughts. Correcting these thoughts directly leads to decreased anxiety, a decreased need to avoid cues which have been reinterpreted as non-threatening, and a release of muscle tension. Substance abuse related thoughts are also targeted.
Rational Emotive Therapy (REBT) – REBT distinguishes between two sets of problems. Others treating you unfairly and unwanted situations would be types of practical problems. These problems can’t be changed. Emotional problems evolve due to our tendency to over think these practical problems thereby upsetting ourselves and changing our behavior to become self-defeating in nature. These problems which result in emotional suffering can be changed. They are changed by first focusing on our irrational thoughts related to unchangeable circumstances and replacing them with more reality based thoughts. This leads to us being able to let go of the practical problems, relieving our distress, and altering our self-defeating behavior.
Group Therapy – Most of our therapy is based on a small groups approach. Since we are a small program the focus of various groups is based on the population that is present at the time. Group therapy allows individuals with similar issues to provide support for each other as well as give feedback from a first-hand perspective. We also utilize groups for the purpose of psycho-education, discussing such topics as how psychiatric disorders and substance abuse disorders interact, or brain functioning and anxiety among many others. These groups are also used for skills building exercises to focus on skill acquisition in areas such as assertiveness, coping strategies, or relaxation techniques.
Individual Therapy – Since GAD is strongly influenced by interpretations of danger in the environment, much of what leads to the symptoms of GAD are internal. Thus it is recognized that unless an individual shares their thoughts it is difficult to help them process many roots of the disorder. While we predominantly utilize a group model short individual sessions are provided as needed to allow individuals to process issues they aren’t comfortable discussing in a group setting.
Experiential Approaches – We also provide non-traditional methods for anxiety reduction and substance related problems. Options we offer include:
- Recreational programming
- Art programming
- Spiritual Therapy
- Nutritional Counseling
Continuing Care – What Comes Next?
For people with co-occurring GAD and substance abuse problems everyday responsibilities can seem so insurmountable that the individual becomes largely incapacitated. Often the distress related to the anxiety and related problems leads to a worsening of the substance abuse. This combination of problems can constantly build on each other until the individual becomes so upset and feels so out of control that they begin thinking about suicide. For others, depending on their own set of circumstances and experiences, this relationship may not be so debilitating. This means that while these different individuals may both start of in the inpatient or extended care program, they may have different needs post discharge. In line with our focus on the individual, discharge planning is highly specific to the needs of each person. We do not employ a cookie cutter approach regarding continuing recovery treatment but work with each individual to identify the best fit for them.
Once you and your treatment team have determined you no longer require the level of care provided by our inpatient or extended care programs, options for post-discharge will be discussed. Our staff works with you to identify the program that will provide the best match for your needs.
At Mount Regis we are dedicated to providing continuity of care as we recognize how anxiety provoking a new program can be. We have designed two outpatient options to which you can transition and if our programs are not determined to be the best fit for your needs, we will identify alternate possibilities and ensure you have a referral to a specific program upon discharge.
Our Day Treatment Program (PHP) provides the same intensity of services as our inpatient program. The difference is you return home to sleep. We have several apartments nearby for individuals to use while participating in the program for those who are not ready to return home or live far from our program.
For those who are prepared to return to the responsibilities of their lives, our Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) offers a lower level of intervention than our PHP but more support than regular outpatient therapy. The IOP program provides services three nights a week typically for five weeks though depending on the needs of the individual this duration may be altered as deemed appropriate.
We also provide Aftercare Program for alumni free of charge for three months after discharge. This program is intended to help you maintain and continue your progress and to prevent relapse by helping you trouble shoot and problem solve potential roadblocks to your recovery. Depending on the needs of the individual our Aftercare Program may include supportive individual or group therapy focusing on individual issues or common problems experience post-treatment.
At Mount Regis we are committed to supporting you in your recovery efforts not only when you are with us but also after you have left our care. Our goal is to help you continue to grow and progress toward complete healing in order for you to be able to maintain the progress you made and continue to move forward so you can establish a life filled with happiness, fulfillment, and close relationships with friends and family.