A few months ago I was contacted by the lovely Marissa from DrugRehab.com, a web resource that provides people who are fighting substance abuse and addiction with information and support, regarding my post about mental health.
Since that post managed to reach so many people all over the world she asked if I could add their website to my list of resources that can be found here.
Of course I was more than happy to do so, as I always try to expand the list of great resources on my blog – as one of those resources saved my life and it might save someone else’s too!
Marissa was also so kind to provide me with an article explaining a bit more about Substance Use Disorders and Mental Illness and how they are related.
I hope this can help at least one of you.
Substance Use Disorders and Mental Illness
Mental health and substance use disorders share a complex relationship. When someone has a substance use disorder, they rely on drugs or alcohol to maintain their daily lives. If a person has a mental illness, the condition impacts their thoughts, feelings or mood.
Are Mental Health and Addiction Related?
Some experience a substance use disorder or mental illness without ever exhibiting signs of the other. When a person shows traits of having both a mental illness and a substance use disorder, they have co-occurring disorders.
In 2014, an estimated 7.9 million American adults had co-occurring disorders. A person with a mental health disorder is more likely than someone who does not have a mental illness to experience a substance use disorder.
ls struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, approximately 20 percent exhibit signs of anxiety or mood disorders.
How Do Co-Occurring Disorders Occur?
A co-occurring disorder can begin when one has either a substance use disorder or mental illness. Of people who have a mental illness, approximately one-third abuse alcohol or other drugs.
A person experiencing mental illness may self-medicate. For example, an individual suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder may drink alcohol to alleviate symptoms of their illness. The relief encourages them to seek more alcohol. This substance-seeking behavior may lead to a co-occurring disorder.
The same process can occur to someone with depression. Alcohol is a depressant. When a person suffering from depression finds temporary comfort in alcoholic beverages, the symptoms of depression worsen over time. They become more depressed and dependent on alcohol, and a co-occurring disorder develops.
A co-occurring disorder can also begin when someone has a substance use disorder. Over time, a person’s health, finances and relationships may be damaged because of their substance use. They may experience feelings of depression because of those negative consequences. Addictive substances can also cause changes in the brain that make the person more vulnerable to mental health issues.
A person with a substance use disorder and a mental illness may not know they have a co-occurring disorder because symptoms are difficult to detect. It may be time to ask for help when someone experiences unusual changes in behavior, feels like they need substances to function or when they stop engaging with friends and family. Although symptoms can vary, it is important to recognize symptoms of mental health problems.
Recovery from co-occurring disorders is possible. Integrated treatment is the best way to improve someone’s health. This method of treatment may improve the recovery process because a medical professional is addressing addiction and mental health concerns simultaneously.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (n.d.). Substance Use Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/substance-abuse
National Alliance on Mental Illness. (n.d.). Dual Diagnosis. Retrieved from http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Related-Conditions/Dual-Diagnosis
National Alliance on Mental Illness. (n.d.). Mental Health Conditions. Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016, March 8). Co-Occurring Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/disorders/co-occurring