Health & Wellness

Substance Addiction and Mental Health Problems: What Is The Connection?

If you look at substance addiction as a standalone issue, you may be wondering what the cause is. One of them can be mental health problems. Needless to say, those issues can pre-exist a substance addiction.

This guide will go over what the connection is between the two. If you need information regarding mental health and addiction, the Absolute Awakenings website will be the best place to go to. Let’s take a look now at some of the connections that bridge substance addictions with mental health issues so you have a deeper understanding.

The opportunity to self-medicate

Those with mental health issues will often need medication to control the symptoms of their disorder. As such, they may self-medicate – which is a risky thing to do. They may rely on certain substances such as drugs or alcohol.

Alcohol mixed with prescribed drugs such as benzos can be a fatal combination. Someone may self-medicate to a point where they may accidentally overdose, resulting in their death. Otherwise, they may build up a tolerance where they will need more of the substances.

Either way, some will say that their prescribed medications won’t be enough. They believe that certain drugs may serve better options. This is not the right decision and addiction can result in this.

It can get to a point where they need to stay in that ‘altered reality’ as a way to escape the pain of their mental disorder.

Dual diagnosis: What is it?

It should also be noted that those who have not been diagnosed with a mental condition can develop an addiction.

This is why dual diagnoses occur. In other words, someone can be diagnosed with an addiction and a mental disorder at the same time. When this happens, a treatment plan will be put in place not only to treat a mental disorder but also your addiction.

The common issue here is that one thing may be focused on while the other is set on the back burner. Addiction treatment may be the primary focus while mental disorders take a back seat. This is not the precedent anyone should follow.

If you or someone you know has undergone a dual diagnosis, it’s important to make sure a treatment plan is created based on your needs. From there, you’ll need to follow a plan that includes regular therapeutic sessions with specialized counselors. You’ll want to meet a counselor that will only focus on your addiction treatment and another that focuses on your mental disorder.

You should not meet with a therapist that claims to do it all. You’ll want a separate therapist that will focus on one thing. This way, you’ll have a strategy that will tackle each issue.

Things will be more organized and you can keep track of what you need to do in order to beat addiction while managing your mental disorder. The length of time may differ from one person to the next. Regardless, it is important for you to trust the process as you go.

Your addiction treatment can last weeks or even months. Managing your mental disorder will be a long-term and ongoing thing. It’s important that you take your treatment plan seriously as you go.

Can addiction cause mental illness?

Drugs themselves won’t cause any mental disorders to develop. However, they can exacerbate the symptoms of such disorders that already exist (even if they haven’t been officially diagnosed). Thus, dual diagnosis is common.

Most drugs can also cause symptoms like paranoia, psychosis, hallucinations, and others if long-term usage occurs. These are similar to mental disorders. But that won’t always mean that they have the disorder itself.

Regardless, it is important to make sure that if you are dealing with a mental disorder, getting it diagnosed will be the first thing you need to do. Even if you haven’t developed an addiction, things can get worse if drugs are thrown into the mix.

Not everyone who deals with an addiction has a mental disorder. This can be due to the fact that they may have developed an addiction due to other factors. This can be their environment that they’re normally in.

They may be people who like to party all the time and use substances. To that end, they feel that they are putting two and two together to have a good time. Then, it gets to the point where they feel so good each time they use a substance, they need it all the time even when it’s not in the right environment.

When should a diagnosis be done?

The short answer: as soon as possible. The long answer is when you are dealing with issues related to mental illness, addiction, or both. Either way, getting the help you need now rather than never is the only solution.

If you notice any symptoms of potential mental disorders or dealing with what may be an addiction, you’ll want to find a professional that will give you an official diagnosis. Absolute Awakenings will be able to point you in the right direction if you are unsure of which route to take.

Once you have a diagnosis completed, you’ll be able to work with professionals that will put together a treatment plan tailor made for you. Not every treatment plan is the same since every person’s needs are different from yours.

Final Thoughts

Substance addiction and mental health problems mostly go hand-in-hand. But that’s not always the case. But if the two are involved, they need to be focused on with the right kind of treatment plan. Often, a dual diagnosis will occur.

If you or someone you know are able to identify the signs of a mental disorder or an addiction, get the help you need as soon as possible. The sooner this happens, the better. It is possible to tackle both issues at the same time.

You can live a fulfilling life while beating addiction and managing your mental health. Don’t hesitate to take action when the opportunity is there.

Health2Wellness

We are nutritionist, health writer's, and food bloggers. Check it out our latest health & wellness articles on fitness, diet, and healthy living.

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