If you struggle with drug or alcohol problems, there’s a strong chance that you may also be fighting depression, anxiety, mood swings or compulsive behavior. It’s not uncommon for people with mental health disorders to abuse street drugs, prescription medications or alcohol as a way to cope with their moods or control their fears.
In fact, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) has shared some surprising statistics on the prevalence of mental health conditions and substance abuse:
Why are co-occurring disorders so common among teenagers and adults with a history of alcoholism or drug abuse? This question may seem to have obvious answers, but the relationship between mental illness and substance abuse is actually very complicated. Anyone who has lived with unmanageable emotions, chronic depression or uncontrollable anxiety knows how tempting it is to numb these feelings somehow. Self-medicating with tranquilizers, booze, meth or painkillers might seem like the fastest, most effective way to get relief from mental illness.
But self-medication is only one of the theories behind the relationship between mental health and substance abuse.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which estimates that up to 60 percent of people with substance abuse problems have co-occurring disorders, there are several contributing factors:
In many cases, the symptoms of a mental health disorder resemble the symptoms of substance abuse so closely that even a psychiatrist would find it difficult to tell where one condition begins and the other ends. Every person’s journey to recovery is different, and finding the best way to restore your physical and emotional health is a highly individualized process.
An addictive disorder may occur along with any mental health disorder, but some psychiatric conditions seem to occur with addiction more often than others.
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), people who seek treatment for drug or alcohol addiction often display signs of the following psychiatric disorders:
The only way to know for certain whether you meet the diagnostic criteria for a co-occurring disorder is to have an evaluation with a mental health professional or an addiction specialist. But there are warning signs that may point to underlying reasons for your substance abuse:
Poverty, unemployment, chronic health problems, a lack of adequate housing, unstable relationships and social isolation are common among people who don’t receive the right treatment for co-occurring disorders. Fortunately, with the right level of care, you can avoid these devastating consequences. The sooner you identify and treat a co-occurring disorder, the greater your chances of achieving a complete recovery.
Getting the treatment you need to cope with a co-occurring disorder isn’t always easy. Many rehabilitation facilities address a variety of addictive behaviors, but they don’t necessarily provide comprehensive treatment for underlying psychiatric conditions. Traditionally, addictive and psychiatric disorders have been treated separately. More recently, addiction specialists have realized the importance of treating substance abuse and mental health conditions as part of a single, integrated recovery program. As the Partnership at Drugfree.org notes, the treatment of co-occurring disorders should be approached as its own discipline, combining the most effective components of substance abuse treatment with the best evidence-based practices in psychiatric care.
Before you enter rehab, it’s important to seek out a facility that offers specialized treatment for a Dual Diagnosis.
The facility should be staffed by consulting clinicians who have training and credentials in integrated treatment for co-occurring disorders. Counseling sessions and group meetings should accommodate the symptoms of mental illness, such as:
An individually tailored treatment plan addresses the needs of each client rather than applying a cookie-cutter approach to recovery. The components of a personalized recovery program may include:
If you are fighting off fear or depression while battling drug or alcohol addiction, hope and help are available through specialized treatment programs. If you are close to someone who shows the signs of a psychiatric disorder and substance abuse, you can help them get their lives back on track by educating yourself about co-occurring disorders and by offering your encouragement and support. Because denial is common among substance abusers with co-occurring disorders, a family intervention may be necessary to get your loved one into treatment.
Our admissions counselors can give you answers to your questions about co-occurring disorders. We can also provide referrals to treatment facilities that are staffed by caring, highly trained professionals who understand the challenges you face in treatment. Call us today to start the process of recovery and build the future you deserve.Contact Us
Integrated Treatment of Substance Abuse & Mental Illness