It is common for those who have an addiction also to have a mental illness. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services administrations said that 9 million people have mental illness and addiction at the same time. Not enough people get treatment for both problems.
People who have addiction issues usually already suffer from mental illness. That doesn’t mean mental illness is responsible for addiction. What it does mean is that they can feed off of each other and make them worse.
Mental illness and addiction are both considered chronic brain disorders. That is because they affect or change the chemistry of the brain. Substance abuse can permanently alter how the brain works. That makes it so the addict cannot quit abusing the substance. Recovery is managing your addiction for your whole life.
The brain changes from addiction are also similar to many mental illnesses. They are the same areas affected by bipolar, depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. It is very common for people who have mental illness to use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate.
How They Effect Each Other
Drug addiction can cause mental illnesses to flare up. An example would be how marijuana can actually increase the risk of having psychosis develop for some people.
Often people with mental issues might have more of a likelihood of trying out drugs. That’s because they may use them as a coping mechanism to deal with problems.
Genetics are also known to play a role in whether someone has a mental illness or addiction. Often if a parent or a close relative has one or the other, you can be more likely to develop them. That’s why it is essential for those with mental illness or family addiction to stay away from drugs and alcohol.
When mental illness and addiction exist side by side, this is called co-occurring disorders. They can be hard to diagnose because they are so similar and can mask the other. This means it is common to only get treatment for one disorder instead of both of them.
The doctors who are treating the patients may not do their jobs correctly. They may not screen patients or have the proper training to see that both problems exist. This can lead to many problems when people are undiagnosed for their issues.
It can be dangerous for their health and lead to homelessness, suicide, or jail time. People need to be properly diagnosed.
There are higher risks to the public too because of undiagnosed co-occurring disorders. They might be more likely to have impulsive actions or be violent. Addiction is also way more likely to become very serious.
Treatment for co-occurring disorders does exist, and they need to both be treated together for the best results. This is called integrated treatment. This can lower the price of therapy overall and raise the rates for success.
Symptoms of co-occurring disorders tend to be more severe and harder to treat. That’s why it is vital to catch them early and provide the treatment necessary.