Do All Addicts Struggle With a Co-Occurring Disorder?

Substance abuse disorders and mental health disorders are things that affect people from all walks of life. Mental illness involves changes in thinking, mood, and behavior and these illnesses can affect how we make life choices and relate to others.

Substance use disorders and addiction occurs with the recurrent use of alcohol and/or drugs to the point where you are unable to stop even though there are negative consequences physically, mentally, financially, legally, etc. While addiction and mental illness do not always co-occur with every person, it is more common than you might think.

According to an article written by the National Institutes of Health:

Multiple national population surveys have found that about half of those who experience a mental illness during their lives will also experience a substance use disorder and vice versa.

The coexistence of both addiction and mental health disorders is referred to as co-occurring disorders that require dual diagnosis treatment. Recreate Life Counseling offers dual diagnosis rehab for a comprehensive approach to treating drug abuse and alcoholism.

Do All Addicts Struggle With a Co-occurring Disorder?

Mental Health Disorders and Substance Abuse

Mental illness and addiction do often overlap as nearly 9 million people suffer from co-occurring disorders. For us to better understand why co-occurring disorders happen, it helps to recognize that they are both chronic brain diseases. When a person struggles with addiction, their brain is likely going to be permanently rewired because of the substance that they abused. This will cause the brain to function differently than it did before. For example, just like when a person suffers from diabetes, a person who suffers from addiction must manage their condition for the rest of their life. It is never as simple as stopping the substance abuse.

More on Co-occurring Disorders and Addiction

These changes that happen in the brain due to substance abuse occur in the same areas of the brain that are impacted by mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. It is not very surprising that there is such a high rate of people who suffer from co-occurring disorders. It is also possible for one illness to cause another. A person can develop mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression caused by substance abuse. A person can also turn to drugs as a result of a mental illness they are suffering from. There number of other reasons why co-occurring illnesses happen such as:

  • Substance abuse can cause a person to experience one or more symptoms of mental illness. For example, Methamphetamine abuse causes an increased risk for psychosis.
  • Mental illnesses can lead to substance abuse because a person tried to use the substances as a way to self medicate. For example: Drinking alcohol to relieve symptoms of anxiety.
  • Some evidence also points out that addiction and mental illness can be caused by underlying brain deficits, exposure to early life traumas, and genetic influences. For example, It is believed that addiction and alcoholism as well as some mental illnesses can run in the family.
  • Another common factor between addiction and mental illness can be linked to the age at which the symptoms appear. Teens and young adults are more prone to risk-taking behaviors and impulsivity. These behaviors can aggravate the risk of developing a mental illness or substance abuse issues.

Co-occurring disorders can sometimes be tricky to diagnose. This is because the symptoms are often complex, can vary in severity, and sometimes overlap because they have the same psychological, biological, and social components. It isn’t uncommon for a person to receive treatment for one disorder and not the other one.

Diagnosing Co-Occurring Disorders

While it sometimes can be tricky to diagnose co-occurring disorders, this does not mean that treatment does not exist. The way co-occurring disorders need to be treated is at the same time. The most effective way is when a person with both a mental illness and a substance abuse problem receives integrated treatment. This creates the best result for the person suffering from both. If you need treatment for co-occurring disorders, now is the time to get the help that you need, and Recreate Life Counseling is here to provide it for you.