What is Illness Anxiety Disorder and Can Drug Use Cause it?

Illness anxiety disorder, also known as hypochondriasis, is when an individual is constantly preoccupied with the fear of suffering from one or more serious illnesses. There are several known causes for this condition, such as having a family history of illness anxiety disorder, experiencing major life stress, or having suffered a serious childhood illness. Evidence also suggests that those who suffer from illness anxiety disorder are also highly likely to suffer from substance abuse.

If you or someone you know is suffering from illness anxiety disorder, understand that addiction treatment centers can help you or your loved one overcome this condition, as well as co-occurring disorders such as substance abuse.

Call our 24/7 confidential helpline at to learn more about behavioral health treatment centers near you.

The Link Between Illness Anxiety Disorder and Drug Use

What is Illness Anxiety Disorder

Those with illness anxiety disorder often turn to substances in order to cope.

There is no scientific evidence that suggests drug use directly causes illness anxiety disorder; however, illness anxiety disorder has been shown to cause substance abuse. Many individuals who have hypochondriasis often self-medicate their perceived illnesses using prescription drugs. Many times, they turn to resources such as the Internet to self-diagnose their conditions, and to look up the names of drugs they need for treatment.

Some of these individuals may turn to substances as a way to find relief from feelings of anxiety. They may also turn to drugs and/or alcohol to numb feelings of perceived pain, especially when doctors fail to prescribe medications when patients exhibit no real symptoms.

When people who suffer from illness anxiety disorder start using drugs such as opioids without a prescription, they risk an accidental overdose, physical dependence, and addiction. Opioids purchased on the streets can also be life-threatening, especially when the drugs are mixed with highly potent opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanil. Just a few tiny grains of these opioids mixed with heroin, oxycodone, or hydrocodone can trigger an overdose instantly and increase the risk for coma or death.

Treating Illness Anxiety Disorder and Substance Abuse

When illness anxiety disorder co-occurs with substance abuse, this is known as a co-occurring disorder, or dual diagnosis. Individuals who suffer from both conditions can undergo counseling and treatment at inpatient or outpatient rehab centers that specialize in these behavioral health disorders. This allows patients to work closely with physicians, therapists, and counselors who have backgrounds in addiction and co-occurring disorders.

Many rehab centers offer addiction treatments that can be tailored to each individual patient based on his or her needs. For instance, a person who suffers from both illness anxiety disorder and opioid addiction can go through detox to overcome physical dependence on opioids, followed by a series of counseling and therapy sessions that address the underlying causes of addiction and hypochondriasis. Treatments may also involve the use of prescription medications and education sessions on healthy living.

If you are struggling with addiction and a co-occurring disorder such as illness anxiety disorder, get help right away to improve your health and overall quality of life. Call our 24/7 confidential helpline at to learn more about treatment centers in your area that treat substance abuse and illness anxiety disorder.

Illness Anxiety Disorder Symptoms

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