Illness Anxiety and Prescription Drug Abuse

Illness Anxiety and Prescription Drug AbuseMost people experience anxiety when they notice symptoms of an illness or disorder, but some people experience such high levels of anxiety that no professional help can comfort them. Such people suffer from illness anxiety, and they may abuse prescription drugs to cope. Seek professional help to deal with both of these problems at the same time.

What Is Illness Anxiety?

The medical community has only recently recognized illness anxiety as a problem, but this condition is now used to replace hypochondriasis in the updated Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. People with illness anxiety disorder have heightened bodily sensations, anxiety over their suspected illnesses and obsession over these health concerns. All of these symptoms occur whether or not the underlying illness is actually present. Illness anxiety can devastate people, even if a healthcare professional assures the patient that whatever illness the patient thinks he has is absent. In fact, such people with illness anxiety may visit a different doctor for another diagnosis, which can lead to emotional and financial distress.

How Illness Anxiety Can Lead to Prescription Drug Abuse

People with illness anxiety may abuse prescription medications for a variety of reasons. Many people abuse drugs to cope with anxiety, which patients with this condition have in spades. To be diagnosed with illness anxiety disorder, people must experience heightened bodily sensations for over six months; this is a considerable amount of time, especially for people who are hearing that nothing is wrong with them. These people may abuse medications for anxiety, depression or other conditions to cope, but they may even abuse prescription drugs to treat the condition they believe they have. For example, someone who believes she has a stomach ulcer may abuse antibiotics to kill bacteria that can cause ulcers.

How Prescription Drug Abuse Affects Illness Anxiety

Prescription medication abuse can cause both physical and mental damage. Different drugs cause different physical effects, but the side effects of any drug can be a cause for concern for patients with illness anxiety. Any side effect can spark anxiety, which means that someone who self-medicates pain with opioids may experience constipation, thus encouraging her to believe she has a serious gastrointestinal problem.

Prescription medication abuse can also cause difficulties diagnosing another medical condition. Medications can mask symptoms that are essential to a diagnosis, as self-medicating a fever with prescription strength aspirin can minimize troubling symptoms, even though illness anxiety goes undiagnosed. In other words, seek professional help to treat illness anxiety; do not try to take drugs and control your pain on your own, because you may end up overlooking a devastating problem.

Help for Prescription Drug Abuse and Illness Anxiety

If you or a loved one suffers from prescription drug abuse as a result of illness anxiety, then please call our toll-free helpline today. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you have about addiction treatment, so reach out right now for their professional support.