Addiction and Mental Illness.

Previously, addiction was thought of to be a moral disorder. Other community members viewed drug addicts as selfish and destructive people rather than people having physical and mental challenges. Currently, there is a deeper understanding of addiction, and it is also known to be a disorder of substance abuse. Studies reveal a high comorbidity between addiction and mental illnesses in individuals who abuse the drugs. It raises the question of the possibility of any relationship between mental illnesses and addiction.

Relationship Between Addiction and Mental Disorder

From as early as 1980, research indicates that substance abuse disorder has high chances of co-existing with various mental conditions. Besides, research reveals that individuals who abuse the drugs are twice as likely to experience mental challenges than the control group, who do not use the substances. Similarly, individuals with underlying mental problems have double the chances of becoming dependent on abused substances. Well, addiction can be a mental condition by itself. However, the concurrent physical characteristics of addiction inhibit it from being referred to as a mental disorder. In addition to the chemical and physical dependence, addicts will exhibit psychological symptoms because it is part of the disease.

People with drug addiction challenges have a dramatic preference of needs. It is evident when the addicts go against self-interest. The addicts will persistently abuse the drugs irrespective of the consequences. Some of these effects include involvement in criminal activities, complete neglect of personal hygiene, and severe physical health deterioration. Chronic addicts are incapable of managing their impulses. The inability to control the stimulants could be an indication of several underlying mental illnesses. Substance abuse has a direct relationship with mental illnesses. The substances abused alters neurochemicals’ concentration in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine hormones.

These two neurochemicals are responsible for the mood swings. Likewise, mood disorders lead to an imbalance in the concentration of the neurochemicals. To correct the imbalance, you need to take medications such as antidepressants. It is a fact that a lot of overlap exists between mental illness and addiction. Mental illnesses are more prevalent among drug addicts than alcoholics at 72% and 45%, respectively. Depressive conditions are frequent in individuals who abuse drugs. About 67% of alcoholics will diagnosed with depressive illnesses.

For opioid addicts, about 75% are likely to suffer from mental illnesses. Data from our rehabilitation centers reveal that about 20-45% of individuals in the recovery phase have PTSD. PTSD may propel an individual to abuse drugs, and for addicts, it may lead to the worsening of symptoms. Social phobia also occurs among 10-15% of individuals receiving their treatment, with research indicating that drug or alcohol addiction may exacerbate mental illness symptoms. It is evident with the prevalence of psychosis among marijuana addicts.

Secondly, mental illnesses may propel one to abuse drugs and consequently lead to addiction. It is evident when traumatized individuals resort to abusing drugs as a way of coping. Also, mental illnesses and addiction share some risk factors, including environmental factors such as trauma or stress, biological or genetic anomalies, and the same regions of the brain get involved. Some developmental factors at the adolescent stage may also be the causative agent for addiction or mental illnesses. In case mental illnesses and addiction are co-occurring, there is a higher possibility of interplay among the three options.

Dual Diagnosis

It is often tricky to identify dual diagnosis. It may take longer to distinguish what may be an addiction problem and a mental disorder. The symptoms and signs may vary based on substance abuse and the mental health challenge. Be it prescription or recreational medication. It may be easy to differentiate the signs of marijuana abuse and depression from alcohol abuse and schizophrenia. However, there exist numerous symptoms that could indicate co-occurring disorders.

Common Symptoms of Co-occurring Disorders

Anxiety disorders, bipolar disorders, and depression are common in both drug addiction and mental illnesses. Common depression symptoms and signs include loss of energy, variation in sleep patterns, and weight changes. Additionally, one may present with the inability to experience pleasure, difficulty concentrating, and reckless behaviors, mostly in men. Symptoms of anxiety in individuals with addiction and mental illnesses include insomnia, muscle tension, trembling, shortness of breath, irritability, and restlessness.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

An integrated approach is the most suitable way of handling co-morbid disorders. Physicians and therapists should manage mental illnesses and drug addiction simultaneously. Irrespective of the disease that came up first, full recovery lies incorrectly working with the same team of physicians and therapists.

Treating mental health involves:

  • Peer support.
  • Lifestyle changes.
  • Counseling.
  • Medication.

Managing drug addiction may involve support groups, behavioral therapies, managing withdrawal symptoms, and detoxification. Remember that both disorders are treatable. However, recovery from co-occurring conditions requires courage, commitment, and takes time. For more information on addiction and rehabilitation, call us at 772-934-6580.