Illness Anxiety and Propoxyphene Abuse

Illness Anxiety and Propoxyphene Abuse

Anxiety and addiction commonly co-occur. One can cause or contribute to the other, creating a cycle of growing addiction and mental health issues. Illness anxiety disorder can be a destructive factor in a person’s life, even before drugs like propoxyphene enter the situation.

What Is Illness Anxiety Disorder?

Illness anxiety disorder is a somatoform disorder once referred to as hypochondriasis. Somatoform disorders involve excessive worry, preoccupation and fear about health, and these emotions and related behaviors disrupt everyday life and interfere with normal social and mental functioning. Illness anxiety disorder involves patients who may or may not have an existing underlying medical health condition and who, “have heightened bodily sensations, are intensely anxious about the possibility of an undiagnosed illness, or devote excessive time and energy to health concerns, often obsessively researching them…Illness anxiety disorder can cause considerable distress and life disruption.” (MayoClinic, “DSM-5 Redefines Hypochondriasis”). When individuals are convinced they have a medical concern that doctors cannot find, they may be tempted to self-medicate. Propoxyphene, found in the now-banned drugs Darvon and Darvocet, is still available through illegal channels, and individuals with illness anxiety disorder may seek this powerful opioid painkiller.

The Connection between Anxiety and Physical Health

While feelings of anxiety may be based on unwarranted beliefs in physical illness, anxiety itself can contribute to negative physical health. “Anxiety and Physical Illness” (Harvard Women’s Health Watch, July 2008) shares that “people with anxiety disorders are at greater risk for developing a number of chronic medical conditions. They may also have more severe symptoms and a greater risk of death when they become ill.” Anxiety about physical illness can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, creating a health issue, when one did not exist before. Prescription drugs may be required to treat these issues, and individuals with mental health issues such as anxiety are at risk for addiction, even when substances like propoxyphene are used as prescribed, as they may find the side effects of the drug temporarily calm or mask anxiety symptoms. They may find themselves turning to these drugs more often than prescribed or for reasons the medication was not intended to treat. This substance abuse can quickly develop into dependence and addiction.

Treating Anxiety and Addiction

Finding the right addiction recovery program is an essential part of a complete physical and psychological treatment. Quality rehab programs address substance abuse and all contributing anxiety or physical health concerns, and they will ensure that patients receive a thorough and complete diagnosis, before treatment begins. Call our toll-free helpline to learn more about getting the help you or a loved one needs for anxiety and addiction concerns. We are here 24 hours a day, and all calls are confidential. Please don’t wait to retake control of your life and your health. Call now.