Throughout her teens and twenties, Tania suffered from anxiety. She used marijuana to try to manage the symptoms, which, in hindsight, seemed to worsen as her usage increased.
When she missed an important meeting because she was too afraid to get out of her car, she decided to seek mental health care. She was prescribed benzodiazepines, which Tania felt were effective, but she did not feel comfortable in therapy and eventually stopped attending the sessions.
She started using much higher doses of the benzodiazepines than she was prescribed and requesting refills early. Her psychiatrist told her that he would not continue to prescribe benzodiazepines until she returned to therapy.
When she ran out of the prescription Tania experienced irritability, nausea, and panic attacks--symptoms of withdrawal.
Tania was terrified when she realized that she’d become dependent on benzodiazepines but was desperate to feel better, so she sought out illicit benzodiazepines and other drugs to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and reduce her anxiety.
Over the next three years as her addiction progressed, she had trouble maintaining employment and her emotional and physical health suffered. She tried repeatedly to detox “cold turkey,” and during her last attempt she had a seizure in the parking lot of her building. A passerby called an ambulance and she was taken to the Emergency Department.
The ED nurse diagnosed Tania’s substance use disorder and a social worker talked to Tania about her treatment options. Tania checked in to the hospital’s inpatient addiction treatment unit for a medically-supervised taper process, followed by three months of residential treatment in a nearby facility specializing in co-occurring disorders.
She then transitioned to a partial hospitalization program for one month, stepped down to an intensive outpatient program for six months, and upon completing the program, attended group therapy and individual Cognitive Behavioral Therapy every week.
She has monthly appointments with her psychiatrist for medication management of a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor, a class of non-addictive medication prescribed to treat anxiety, and credits yoga and meditation with helping her to grow into the thriving, healthy woman she is today.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (ongoing)
Yoga and meditation (ongoing)