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Addiction and Substance Abuse

Anxiety

04/13/2006

Question:

Hi this question is actually regarding my older brother. He is 25 [will be 26 in 2 months]. Well I know he`s had an alcohol problem for about 5 [maybe more] years now. He usually get`s these episodes where he gets the shakes and is afraid to drive. He also gets very ill, when he`s going through this someone always has to be with him, and he is afraid to be alone. I`ve read up on this and I also know this could be withdrawal symptoms from him just trying to quit `cold turkey`. He went to his primary care phsysician and she said that it could be `anxiety`. She also said the condition he has typically leads to alcoholism even suicide thoughts. He`s also been out of work on 2 different occasions. Last year was for 6 months, and since December, he`s been home. Honestly I dont think he has an `anxiety` problem, I just think its all of the alcohol he`s consumed, that and he`s lazy. He had problems with his liver and kidney, blood tests show that they`re both doing better [now that he`s been off of the alcohol]. But recently I suspect he`s starting to drink again, and when I suspected it, he was begging me to stay home from work because he didnt feel well. Could this genuinely be an anxiety problem leading to alcoholism, or can this really honestly all be related to the alcohol intake. Me and my mom used to go sneak in his room and clean under his bed on a weekly basis, usually finding about 80 liquor bottles, all hard liquor/no soda.

Answer:

Hello,

Your brother could have alcoholism alone or alcoholism with an anxiety disorder as well. To treat alcoholism, it is recommended that he do more than just stop drinking. Most treatment centers recommend that alcoholics go to AA and change their way of thinking and dealing with life. Just putting alcohol or drugs down does not change an alcoholic. In fact, they can become what is known as a dry drunk.

To decide if there is a separate anxiety disorder, I would recommend that he stay sober a few weeks and go to AA and then if problems persist or worsen, I would recommend that he see an addiction psychiatrist to sort it through. He could have both problems. Certainly withdrawal can lead to severe anxiety, but it should resolve within a few weeks to months after he quits drinking. There is a new medication called Campral that could help him also. He would need to talk to a physician to get it prescribed. Also, outpatient treatment for alcoholism would be a good choice as well.

For you there is Al-Anon to help you deal with how his alcoholism has affected you. You can find a local meeting by looking on the first page of your phonebook for the number for their office. AA is there also. Good luck. Thanks for the good question.

Related Resources:

Alcoholics Anonymous
Al-Anon/Alateen

For more information:

Go to the Addiction and Substance Abuse health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Edna M Jones, MD, MRO Edna M Jones, MD, MRO
Emeritus Clinical Assistant Professor of Family Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University