Mental Health and Addiction


What Is the Connection Between Mental Health and Addiction


In these stressful times, you may be wondering about the connection between mental health and addiction.

This is more than just an idle concern. Awareness of the link between addiction and your mental state can help motivate you to take better care of yourself.

It can also motivate you to seek the help you need for problems you may already have.

There is no doubt that mental health problems and addiction are closely linked.

Mental illness can make you more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol.

At the same time, substance problems can make you more susceptible to mental illness.

Fortunately, if you have drug or alcohol problems, treatments are available to help you turn things around.

Modern treatment options will also help you cope with the combined effects of addiction and mental illness.

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Understanding Addiction and Mental Health


Nothing is more challenging than struggling with a misunderstood health issue.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what happens to many people affected by addiction.

Why? One big reason is how society sometimes views substance problems. Addiction was once considered an issue of will power.

In this way of thinking, people who got addicted simply lacked the will to avoid drugs or alcohol.

On the other hand, people who avoided substance problems had superior self-control.

However, modern research clearly shows that this perspective is inaccurate. Addiction is not a matter of lack of willpower.

Instead, it is a long-term or chronic brain disease. If certain substance-related changes take place inside your brain, you will need help to overcome them.

This is true, no matter how badly you want to stop using drugs or alcohol. In fact, serious substance problems are classified as a form of mental illness.

The name for this specific form of illness is substance use disorder or SUD.

You can get diagnosed with a SUD if you are addicted to alcohol or drugs.

You can also get diagnosed if you are not addicted, but still have significant substance abuse problems. Many people suffer from the combined effects of both problems.

It might surprise you to think about addiction as a mental illness.

However, more than 20 million American teens and adults suffer from a substance use disorder. This means that the problem is widespread.

It also means that you are not alone in struggling with serious drug or alcohol issues.

Mental Health and Addiction Emerald Isle - A man who struggles with Mental Health and Addiction gets support from others in his group therapy as the people sitting on either side place their hand on his shoulders to help him get through a tough part of the lesson.


Effects of Addiction and Substance Abuse on Mental Health


If you are affected by another mental illness in addition to a SUD, you have something called dual diagnosis. Roughly 50% of all people diagnosed with a SUD fall into this category. In addition, over 25% of all people with a major mental illness have drug or alcohol problems. Sometimes, abuse/addiction issues begin before mental illness appears. However, mental illness can also occur before substance problems.

Why is dual diagnosis so common? Three different things can contribute to your risks. First, research shows that SUDs and mental illness share more than one underlying cause. The list of shared causes includes:

  • Exposure to some kind of physical or psychological trauma
  • The impact of other types of serious stress
  • The genes you inherit from your ancestors


Mental Illness and Addiction


For some people, the presence of mental illness directly increases the chances of developing a SUD. This may happen if you try to use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate your mental health symptoms. It can also occur if your illness changes the way your brain works.

In other cases, a substance use disorder directly increases the chances of developing mental illness. This may happen to you if brain changes caused by addiction also leave you more vulnerable to other mental health problems.

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Treatments for Mental Health and Addiction Issues


No matter how severely you are affected by a SUD, you have options for effective treatment. You also have effective options for recovering from dual diagnosis. This is true even if you have previously tried and failed to get sober. It is also true if you have long-standing, unresolved mental health issues.

Regardless of the nature of your problems, you will need a thorough assessment of your condition. Your doctor can use an assessment to detect the presence of substance use disorder. A similar process will help reveal the presence of dual diagnosis. Once your doctor diagnoses your condition, you can begin your customized recovery plan.

The type of addiction treatment you need depends on your specific situation. A couple of things help explain this need for individualized care. First, each group of addictive substances requires a different kind of treatment. This means that the help you receive for alcohol problems will differ from the help you receive for drug problems. It also means that treatments for opioid problems differ from treatments for stimulant or tranquilizer problems.

There are two approved options for treating the symptoms of a SUD. The first option is medication. Not everyone will benefit from this kind of treatment. However, in the right circumstances, medication will help you do such things as:

  • Detox successfully from drugs or alcohol
  • Maintain your sobriety in your treatment program
  • Recover from the brain effects of drinking or taking drugs

You may also need some kind of behavioral therapy to recover from serious substance problems. The right type of therapy will help ease your fears or worries about being in treatment. There are also options that help you stay in treatment even when you are going through your toughest moments. In addition, the right behavioral therapy will help you stay sober when you leave your rehab program.

Mental Health and Addiction Emerald Isle - A man asks a question during a DBT therapy session at rehab.

If you suffer from dual diagnosis, you will need different rehab options than those who only deal with a SUD. This is true because your rehab plan must treat all of your mental health issues, not just your substance problems. Your doctor will help decide which treatments will work in your situation. Options include a type of therapy called dialectical behavior therapy.

There is one thing you can count on ineffective programs for substance and mental health issues. These programs do not treat you like a number or just focus on your problems. Instead, they treat you as a unique person with unique needs. That means paying attention to other aspects of your well-being, including:

  • Any other medical needs
  • Your work and home life
  • Any age-related issues you may have

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Seek Help for Mental Health and Addiction Problems

No one deserves to be addicted to drugs or alcohol. In addition, no one deserves to be affected by other types of mental illness.

If you are experiencing problems, you are not weak-willed.

You have a brain disease that has a major impact on your long-term health.

It may seem like you have no good options for turning your life around.

But this is simply not true. With the methods available today, you have proven options for recovering from both SUD and dual diagnosis.

There is no guarantee that any specific treatment will work for you. However, the right kind of treatment will help you make significant progress toward your recovery goals.

More than anything else, you must take action if you hope to make recovery a reality.

The sad truth is that many people dealing with substance abuse or addiction never seek help.

Don’t let this be the case for you. For more information on the steps available to you, just contact the experts at Emerald Ise.

No matter your current situation, we have the resources you need for effective mental health and addiction treatment.