Did you know that roughly half of people with a mental health disorder will also suffer from a substance use disorder at some point in their lifetimes? It’s evident that a strong link exists between mental health and substance abuse, but many people are unaware of this relationship. They only see the addiction and the problems it’s causing, when really, there is a mental health problem at the root of it all.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so we felt this was a good time to discuss the link between mental health and substance abuse. While these conditions are not curable, they are treatable. The key is to access highly personalized treatment from a drug rehab in Phoenix like Continuum Recovery Center. We specialize in the treatment of co-occurring conditions and have the tools and resources to rebuild your life.
So, in regards to Mental Health Month, addict, here is what we want you to know about your co-occurring condition.
Why Do Addiction and Mental Illness Often Occur Together?
While it may not be clear what comes first – the addiction or the mental health problem – there are many reasons why these two conditions often occur together.
- Self-medication. When you have an untreated mental illness, you may self-medicate with drugs and alcohol to numb the symptoms. For example, alcohol can help you feel more comfortable in social situations, while marijuana can block out pain from traumatic experiences.
- Genetics and environment. Interestingly, the same genetic and environmental factors that raise your risk for mental illness also raise the risk for addiction. As an example, if you have a family history of mental illness and were raised in a home with abuse, you’re at a higher risk for a co-occurring disorder.
- Brain circuitry. To further expand on the previous point, some brains are wired for both mental illness and substance abuse. Researchers are finding the same brain regions to be involved in both disorders. Low dopamine levels are also a problem in these brains.
If I’m Struggling with Addiction, Do I Have a Mental Health Problem?
While each person is unique, and no two circumstances are the same, we can say with confidence that the majority of addicts have a mental health problem. It’s possible that you had one before the addiction started, which is why you were led to drugs and alcohol in the first place. But even if you did not have a mental health disorder before the abuse started, you probably do now.
Drug and alcohol abuse have a direct effect on the brain. Some drugs cause psychiatric problems because they result in sleep deprivation, mood changes and a surge in dopamine levels. Also, as your brain goes back and forth with highs and lows, you may experience psychotic episodes.
The lifestyle that goes along with using drugs and alcohol also puts you at risk for mental illness. Addiction can lead to disorganization, financial troubles, relationship issues, physical ailments and more. Dealing with all of these problems is bound to compromise your mental health.
Bottom line: If you are struggling with addiction, you probably have a mental health problem that needs to be addressed as well. For full healing, you’ll need dual diagnosis treatment centers in Phoenix.
How to Diagnose a Co-Occurring Disorder
It can be very difficult to diagnose a co-occurring disorder because many addiction and withdrawal symptoms mimic the signs of mental health disorders. Fortunately, Phoenix treatment centers are well-trained to evaluate and diagnose clients based on their symptoms. Once the initial evaluation is complete, you will be given an individualized treatment plan that addresses both aspects of your co-occurring disorder.
The following warning signs can help you determine if you’re dealing with an addiction or a co-occurring disorder:
- You started using drugs and alcohol to cope with traumatic memories, control your moods, decrease social anxiety or perform better in school/sports.
- You have a history of addiction and a family history of mental illness.
- In your past, you suffered from abuse, neglect or a traumatic experience.
- Before you started using drugs and alcohol, you felt depressed or anxious.
- Prior to your addiction, you were diagnosed with a mental health disorder.
What are the Best Ways to Treat Addiction and Mental Illness?
Treating a co-occuring disorder is more complicated than treating an addiction or mental illness on its own. There are two conditions present, which means each one requires its own attention and treatment plan. The good news is that you can work on both recoveries at the same time. In fact, many of the treatments that work for addiction also work for mental illness, and vice versa.
Here are some of the best treatment options for a co-occurring disorder:
- Talk therapy. Individual, group and family counseling can help you understand the root cause of your pain. Oftentimes, people find that it’s a traumatic experience that led to their pain and suffering and the need for self-medication.
- Medication. Mental health problems often require medication. These medications will decrease your symptoms and the need to self-medicate with harmful substances.
- Behavioral therapy. Behavioral therapies promote healthy changes in your life. They identify harmful behaviors like impulsivity and a low attention span and effective ways to deal with them.
- Peer support. Being with others who understand your journey is incredibly helpful in the recovery process. Through peer support groups, you can work on improving both conditions.
- Holistic therapies. Stress is a natural part of life, so it’s important to have healthy outlets for dealing with it. In treatment, you’ll learn how to use various therapies like meditation, exercise and yoga to manage stress levels.
Get an Assessment from Continuum Recovery Center
Continuum Recovery Center has a rewarding holistic outpatient addiction treatment program that works with people who have addiction, mental illness or both. Our treatment programs are designed to meet each person’s unique needs while giving equal attention to the substance abuse and mental health disorder. To learn more about our convenient, cost-effective treatment programs, contact us today.