Some conditions seem destined to come in pairs. Heart disease often follows a diagnosis of diabetes, for example, and allergies often come hand in hand with asthma. The same sort of joining effect sometimes takes hold when an addiction is in play. In fact, it’s quite common for certain drugs of abuse to be entangled with specific mental health disorders. These are five of the most common mental health/addiction combinations in play today.
Alcohol abuse is associated with a number of mental health concerns, including:
But according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) has the closest link with alcoholism, as people who drink to excess on a regular basis are 21 times more likely to deal with ASPD when compared to people who don’t have alcoholism. Often, the two disorders develop early in life, the NIAAA says, but alcoholism can make the underlying mental illness worse, as people who are intoxicated might have lowered inhibitions, which makes their antisocial behaviors more prevalent.
It’s not unusual for people who have schizophrenia to develop addictions. In fact, a study in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggests that about half of all people with schizophrenia also have a substance abuse disorder. However, there’s a particularly striking association between marijuana abuse and schizophrenia. It’s unclear why people with schizophrenia would abuse this drug, as it seems to produce many of the same symptoms these people experience when in the midst of a schizophrenic episode, but it is clear that marijuana abuse is at least somewhat common in those who have schizophrenia.
People who abuse cocaine often take the drug because it makes them feel euphoric and powerful. However, continued use seems to lead to symptoms that are more indicative of an anxiety disorder, including:
These symptoms may fade away in people who achieve a long-lasting sobriety, but sometimes the damage lingers and the unusual thoughts and behaviors stick around even when sobriety has taken hold.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness that takes hold in the aftermath of a very serious episode in which the person was either facing death or watching someone else die. Often, people who survive these episodes emerge with very serious physical injuries, and often, those injuries are treated with prescription painkillers. These drugs can also boost feelings of pleasure and calm inside the brain, and sometimes people who have PTSD are moved to abuse their drugs in order to experience euphoria. While people in physical pain do need help to overcome that pain, blending PTSD with painkillers can lead to tragic outcomes that no one wants.
While heroin can make users feel remarkably pleasant in the short term, long-time users can burn out the portions of the brain responsible for producing signals of pleasure. In time, they may have a form of brain damage that leads to depression. They’re physically incapable of feeling happiness unless the drug is present. This drug/mental illness partnership is remarkably common, but thankfully, it can be amended with treatment and sobriety.
If you’d like to know more about how co-occurring conditions develop and how they can be treated, please contact us. Our admissions coordinators can connect you with a program that can provide lasting help.
Integrated Treatment of Substance Abuse & Mental Illness