Mental Health issues can arise in a variety of different formats, although they are commonly defined as some kind of abnormality within an individual’s social function, mood, or cognition. Although many people experience unpredictable emotional upheavals during stressful or critical times in their lives, only 24 percent of people within the United States have been diagnosed with mental illness. Research conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research has discovered a noticeable connection between the use of addictive substances and those suffering from mental illness, forcing organizations to recognize the correlation between addiction and mental health.
When it comes to the different combinations that these two strains of human behavior can create, the options are almost limitless, each with their own unique symptoms and causes, as well as their own appropriate treatment, intervention, or Dual diagnosis method.
Mental Health and Self Medication
Perhaps the most common issue known to connect substance abuse and mental illness is the concept of self-medication. This is when patients attempt to manage the symptoms of their mental health disorder using drugs or alcohol, rather than seeking approved forms of professional health. For example:
- An individual struggling with low energy may turn to cocaine or Adderall in an attempt to boost their drive.
- Someone who has been experiencing depression may attempt to limit their exposure to uncomfortable or disruptive feelings by numbing themselves with marijuana.
- People with extreme anxiety disorders may turn to excessive alcohol abuse in an attempt to increase their confidence in social situations.
Although turning to substance abuse may appear to offer some form of short term relief from various symptoms of mental illness, what many patients fail to recognize in the time of their distress is that they are exposing themselves to further damage. The substances which an individual may turn to for help will do nothing to address the issues that lay beneath the symptoms, and could create various new problems in the form of further anxiety, stress, and addictive behaviors. In some cases, the use of illegal drugs can begin to agitate the symptoms of mental health disorders, causing the original symptoms to increase in severity.How Substance Abuse Can Trigger Mental Illness
In some cases, the reoccurring use of a particular drug can create issues within an individual that trigger mental health problems. In other circumstances, these substances can create new mental health issues by themselves which appear in symptoms such as delusion, paranoia, or depression. If symptoms such as these continue to persist after the influence of the drug has worn off, this could indicate a co-occurring mental health disorder, examples of which include:
- Mood disorders such as depression have been discovered to be particularly common within people suffering from addiction. Depression can be a typical side effect of various drugs and excessive alcohol, as they begin to wear off, and constant exposure can cause this issue to deepen into a serious disorder.
- People often find it difficult to make rational, well-considered decisions when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which could lead them to make poor choices or even break the law. Behavior such as this can lead to an increase in general anxiety, as well as making it difficult for individuals to connect with others following their addiction problem.
- Studies have shown that the chronic use of addictive substances can increase an individual’s chance of being exposed to violent crime and assault by exposing them to dangerous locations. Assault can create various mental health issues including depression and eating disorders.
The relationship between Drug Abuse and Mental Illness
According to studies conducted by the Journal American Medical association, around fifty percent of people who have been diagnosed with a mental health issue also have a problem with substance abuse. Though studies into the relationship between mental illness and addiction are currently ongoing, many professionals in mental health have determined that the correlation is particularly complex. For example, people found to be at risk for mental illness often increased that risk when they began to use drugs and fell into the struggle of addiction. Furthermore, many drugs such as ecstasy, contain substances that alter the natural chemicals within the brain used to control certain behaviors and manage mood. When these alterations become common, they can lead to chronic anxiety issues and depression.
Because many of the symptoms of addiction and mental illness can overlap, it is often particularly difficult for doctors and health professionals to accurately diagnose a co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorder through dual diagnosis. In instances such as anxiety, depression, and even bipolar disorder, it takes some time to be able to understand and identify the difference between what counts as evidence of a drug or alcohol addiction and what may be classed as a mental disorder.
Connecting the Treatment for Mental Health Issues and Addiction
Often, once a dual diagnosis has been successfully carried out and a health professional has identified both a substance abuse issue and a mental health disorder, it can be beneficial for the patient to enroll in a treatment program that is capable of addressing both complicated problems at once. The reason for this is that when an individual attempts to treat the symptoms of addiction without considering the mental health disorder, it can make it more complicated for that individual to achieve and maintain sobriety. Similarly, if someone attempts to overcome a mental health disorder while ignoring the issue of addiction, they may find that their treatment becomes ineffective.
It is important to remember that mental health disorders and addiction are both extremely serious, complicated and difficult to manage issues by themselves, and can become even more overwhelming when they are combined. Nobody should attempt to overcome these complex problems by themselves, and that’s where Creative Care comes in to offer the support and guidance that could turn a person’s life around. If you, or someone that you know is dealing with addiction, mental health issues, or a co-occurring problem, please call Creative Care today for help.