Have you ever wondered how mental health and addiction are connected? You’re not alone. Mental health and addiction are interrelated, which makes it difficult to untangle. Unless you’re a professional therapist or counselor, it can be challenging to point out the specific combinations of what makes mental illness and addiction so similar in people. It is important for people dealing with mental health to understand how their problems could manifest in their lives and make it more difficult to achieve their goals. Talking about mental health can be uncomfortable, but addressing it is critical.
Difference between mental health and addiction
Mental health and addiction often go hand-in-hand, but they can also be two separate issues that require separate treatment approaches. Mental health is more than just how you feel in the moment: it encompasses how you think, behaves and interact with others.
Your mental health influences how healthy you are overall, including your physical well-being and the choices you make. Mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder can cause emotional distress and interfere with everyday life.
Addiction involves a compulsive need for something despite negative consequences. This includes consuming alcohol or drugs, gambling, or engaging in other behaviors such as eating or sex. Addiction affects your brain chemistry, making it harder to control your behavior without help from outside sources like therapy or medication.
A mental health disorder can be the cause of addiction
If you have an addiction, your brain’s reward system has been damaged. The reward system makes us feel good when we do something that helps us survive or reproduce. For example, eating a meal makes us feel good because it keeps our body alive and functioning. However, drugs like cocaine also activate this reward system — even though they harm our survival and reproduction in many ways.
In some cases, using drugs may be an attempt to self-medicate for symptoms of mental illness such as anxiety or depression. If you have a mental health condition and use drugs or alcohol to numb or “self-medicate” its symptoms, you may be at increased risk for developing an addiction later in life.
Addictive substances can lead to a mental health disorder
Addictive substances are often abused in hopes that they will relieve stress and improve mood, but in reality, using drugs or alcohol can make your mental health worse. Over time, addiction can cause changes in brain function that may lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders.
It’s not just alcohol and drugs that can impact your mental health — other addictive behaviors like gambling or sex addictions can also be linked to poor emotional well-being. These behaviors can create a cycle of negative consequences that further exacerbate the problem.
The same causes influence addiction and mental health disorders
The same causes influence mental health disorders as addiction. For example, the same factors contributing to addiction may also put you at risk for developing a mental illness like anxiety or depression. If you have an addictive personality or were exposed to drugs or alcohol during childhood, you may be more likely to develop both disorders.
Dual diagnosis treatment is essential for recovery
Dual diagnosis treatment is essential for recovery. The two conditions are related, and they require different types of treatment.
Many people suffer from both mental health problems and addiction. While most people think that a person with a mental health problem should be treated first, the reality is that it may not be possible to do so until the substance abuse issue has been addressed. A comprehensive dual diagnosis treatment program will address both issues together.
Mental health and addiction are very different issues, but they can also affect each other differently. To recover from both issues together, you need to know how these conditions interact to get help for both problems at once.
Here are ways dual diagnosis treatment impacts recovery:
Dual diagnosis treatment is the most effective way to address co-occurring disorders;
It focuses on the underlying causes of addiction and mental health issues
Addiction is a complex disease with many contributing factors, including mental health issues and trauma. Dual diagnosis treatment provides a safe environment for clients to address these underlying causes through therapy and medication-assisted treatment if needed.
It allows clients to receive medication-assisted treatment when necessary
Drugs and alcohol are substances of abuse because they can be taken in excess and negatively impact one’s life. However, some people use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate symptoms of mental illness such as anxiety or depression. These individuals may require meds to help stabilize their moods or manage certain symptoms like hallucinations or delusions.
Keeps clients comfortable while they detox and undergo therapy
A client may require medical attention during detox, which can be stressful when paired with other mental health issues. Dual diagnosis treatment provides comfort and support during this time so that clients can focus on their recovery without worrying about their physical health.
Offers one-on-one care within a supportive environment
Dual diagnosis treatment provides clients with individualized care from a trained professional who understands how addiction and mental health issues manifest themselves differently in each individual. This allows for customized treatments that target each client’s unique needs.
Provides clients with educational information about addiction and mental health issues
A trained professional will provide information about addictions and mental health issues so that clients understand how these conditions interact and affect everyday life.
Mental health disorders can interfere with treatment for substance use disorders
The National Institute on Drug Abuse notes that some people with mental illness may be at higher risk for substance use disorders because they seek relief from their symptoms. For example, someone diagnosed with depression might turn to alcohol or drugs to relieve their feelings of sadness and hopelessness. The same person might also avoid taking prescribed psychiatric medications because they don’t like the way they feel when taking them. This could result in a relapse into drug or alcohol abuse, which can cause more mental health problems down the road.
Some medications used to treat addiction produce side effects that mimic certain mental health disorders
Some medications used to treat addiction may cause side effects that mimic certain mental health disorders. For example, antidepressants can cause increased appetite and weight gain, leading people to believe they have bipolar disorder or another eating disorder.
If this happens, it’s important to work closely with addiction experts so you can find alternative medications or dosages, if possible. When drugs leave your system, withdrawal symptoms may mimic mental health disorders like depression or anxiety. In some cases, people who experience these symptoms may seek additional drugs to treat them, which can lead to more problems.
Mental illness and addiction are often mistaken in regards to their causes, although there is a definite connection between these disorders. This connection is their shared manifestation in behaviors that can damage mental, physical, and social well-being. When these addicts are properly diagnosed, they are encouraged to seek treatment.