No one needs to be reminded that adolescence is a time of tremendous anxiety. For many teenagers, the pressures of school, family, friends and work are all relatively manageable. Many young people, however, struggle with a range of anxiety-related disorders. A severe emotional ordeal can result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), while fears and worries can overtake the individual, manifesting themselves as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), phobias or social anxiety.

Self-Medicating Anxiety with Drugs and Alcohol

Because our society often stigmatizes behavioral health issues, many people — especially self-conscious adolescents — are reluctant to get the psychiatric and psychological help that can get them on a better path. As a result, they often turn to drugs and alcohol to quiet their fears and reduce their anxiety. This self-medication can be highly detrimental, as it not only covers up underlying medical issues, but can also create greater problems in the form of addiction.

The risk of self-medication is high. Nearly 60% of people who abuse substances are also struggling with a behavioral health disorder. That’s why Unison Health offers a continuum of care, looking at all of the factors — physical, mental and psychological — that are standing in the way of a fulfilling life that’s free of overwhelming anxiety.

Is Your Child at Risk for Substance Abuse Disorders?

As a parent, you are likely well-attuned to your teenager’s various moods. Their anxieties are your anxieties. But when you notice an extreme shift in their behavior or attitude, it could be a sign of a larger problem — an indication that your teen may be self-medicating their anxiety disorder with drugs or alcohol. Here are some signs to be on the lookout for:

• Self-isolating from friends and family and avoiding activities
• Extreme changes in appearance and/or attitude
• Highly emotional behavior, including anger and depression
• Shirking responsibilities at school, work or with sports
• Defiance of authority, including parents, teachers or law enforcement
• Decline in academic performance or reduced interest in academic opportunities

Of course, any one of these behaviors presented on an occasional basis could just be everyday teen angst. If you see one or more of these behaviors begin to form a pattern, though, it could be a sign of a larger problem. The professionals at Unison Health, including the experts at the forthcoming Center for the Treatment of Anxiety in Perrysburg, can help determine the best course of action for your child.

The Unison Health approach integrates behavioral health care with treatment for substance abuse disorders as well as primary care. As a result, our licensed professionals are able to treat the whole client rather than just one facet. We begin with an intensive initial assessment designed to get a sense for the scope of the issue and develop a treatment plan that meets the client’s specific needs.

Understanding that a substance abuse problem can often be masking a behavioral health issue can go a long way toward establishing treatment that delivers long-term recovery. In addition, our focus on primary care helps ensure a level of overall treatment that eases the transition into a live without drugs — and a life free from the fear and worry that can make anxiety disorders so debilitating.
With the opening of the Center for the Treatment of Anxiety in Perrysburg, Unison Health is positioned to offer increased access to hope for people struggling with PTSD, OCD and other anxiety disorders. In addition, the treatments offered here can go a long way toward helping prevent anxiety disorders from giving way to substance abuse issues. If you know an adolescent or adult who could benefit from the Center for the Treatment of Anxiety’s services, please do not hesitate to contact Unison Health at 419-214-HOPE.