Anxiety is Like an Addiction

We’re so used to struggling with extreme and persistent thoughts, it’s impossible to believe that our minds have a purpose for subjecting us to the lengths it does.

But anxiety works like an addiction: it’s something we certainly wouldn’t want if we had the choice, but something that persists regardless. And although we wish we didn’t, we play into the motions our addiction has us take.

Self Sabotage

According to healthline, self sabotage refers to “behaviors or thought patterns that hold you back and prevent you from doing what you want to do.”

If you’ll pay very close attention, they don’t make any goddamn sense.

But at its core, it arises because we’re responding to a situation in the same way we responded successfully to a different situation in the past.

For example, if you were once in a relationship where the only way to protect yourself from emotional or physical abuse was by being complacent or confrontive, your mind may extrapolate that situation to the present, even if it’s not necessary.

Therefore, when we least want it, we may trick ourselves into acting very poorly.

Here is my crude idea of the cycle of self sabotage:

How Addictions Are Treated

You may recognize self sabotage in yourself: a very minor form of it is procrastination. If someone earns a decent result after procrastinating heavily for an assignment, they may believe they can do it again, and so they will, because it makes them the most comfortable in the present.

So how can we control these self sabotaging tendencies? (keeping in mind that doing the opposite of what we want to do is exactly like maintaining an addiction to drugs or alcohol)

It is undoubtedly true that “addiction is a medical illness” (according to shatterproof), and the moldable part of the brain, called gray matter, helps control muscular and sensory activity. This can be strengthened or weakened, and so in the case of recovering addicts, brain matter can be strengthened, and so new and healthy connections can replace the unhealthy ones naturally over time.

Although gray matter is not completely and intimately connected to mental illness, it’s no secret that if our brains were to work better, more clearly, and rationally, we’d be more prepared to help ourselves recover.

For more information about the plasticity of matter in our brain, check out these studies of drug addiction and of mental illness versus gray matter loss.

Mental Disorders:

Substance Abuse:

Mental disorders have also shown gray matter loss, and so it’s natural that some of the symptoms are shared.

Recognizing the similarities between addiction and anxiety, namely the destruction of gray matter, self sabotage, and the fact that addiction is characterized as a mental disorder, may help you feel better about your anxiety.

It’s not something you asked for, and something that’s difficult to control, but just as people recover from addiction, similar techniques can help you improve your mental health.


I will now talk of my personal experience with accountability and the extreme benefits it has had on my mental health.

One of the ways you may sabotage yourself is by a refusal to get outside help for the problem you didn’t want. Of course, many would argue this is because of a “stigma,” and that is certainly true, but even without it, it’s hard to admit you need help when you’ve made a habit of sabotaging yourself.

Outside accountability is often used to treat addiction to drugs or alcohol.

The most popular alcohol addiction recovery program, Alcoholics Anonymous, uses a sponsor system wherein each person is matched with someone who intimately understands the struggle of recovery.

AA is based in faith, and although that certainly has something to do with it, it’s undoubtedly true that the accountability gained through another person is hugely beneficial.

You can find similar accountability through therapists who are trained to understand what you’re feeling, or even in people you know, because remember, mental illnesses are tragically common. So it’s unlikely that you don’t know someone that wouldn’t be willing to help you make a positive change.

Imagine how much weight it would take off yourself if you could depend on someone to listen to you when you want to give up, someone to guide you in the right direction so that you don’t have to try as hard.

This is the reason religion helps individuals. Christians see Jesus as this figure of accountability. When you combine a real sponsor with a powerful metaphorical one, it’s no wonder AA has a surprisingly good recovery rate.

I’m not saying you need Jesus to improve your mental health. God, no. But if you’re already a Christian, which a significant portion of the Western Hemisphere is, it may help to focus on the big man upstairs and his kid sometimes.

But I encourage you to find this accountability somehow. Whether you know the person, talk to them online, or go to therapy, you will not regret a guiding hand to take the pressure away from you. 

If you can’t think of anyone to help you be accountable, I would be willing to help you in that respect. Just leave a comment or message me, and I’d be happy to give you advice when you need it.


Habits are fun because they can very slowly be incorporated into your life and cause profound and compounding effects over time.

These habits have all been shown to increase gray matter in the brain. And although improving the quality of gray matter does not fix a mental illness, the improved brain function can help you feel more prepared to tackle the things you need to.

  • 7.5-9 hours of sleep each night
  • Learn more about food intake
  • Do something to leave your comfort zone each day
  • Physical exercise
  • Be mindful

The cycle of performing positive habits:

Once you recognize both positive and negative cycles, it becomes easier to stay on the former and act your way out of the latter.

I care about you. And you know what you need to do to improve your mental health. I hope you’ve recognized within yourself some of this self sabotage, admitted it, and are willing to slowly work at changing it through accountability for yourself and building positive habits.

Again, if you need someone to hear your goals and keep you accountable, comment or message me directly, and I will try my best as long as you will.

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Sources consulted:

3 thoughts on “Anxiety is Like an Addiction

  1. Whenever I’m anxious, my thinking becomes radical and it’s a situation that I like to avoid as often as possible. As for forming habits, I’ve learnt that habits can help you meet target goals hence reducing anxiety when deadlines approach.
    As a Christian, I also put my trust in God.


    1. Yea, it’s very difficult to get your thoughts back on track, but grounding techniques can help. And sure, like I said, for Christians, God is an excellent source of strength, so I’m glad to hear you using spirituality to your advantage. Your blog is really cool, by the way!


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