How Exactly are They Related?
There is a strong correlation between addiction and mental health. People who have a mental health disorder are more likely to develop an addiction, and people who have an addiction are more likely to have a mental health disorder. This is known as co-occurring disorders, or dual diagnosis.
There are several reasons why mental health and addiction are often linked. For example, some people with mental health disorders may use substances to cope with their symptoms. In other cases, substance abuse may cause or exacerbate mental health problems, such as:
Chemical Changes in The Brain: Substance abuse can cause chemical changes in the brain that can worsen mental health symptoms. For example, long-term use of drugs such as alcohol or cocaine can damage the brain’s reward center, making it more difficult for individuals to experience pleasure or feel motivated without the drug.
Increased Risk of Mental Health Disorders: Substance abuse can increase the risk of developing mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. This is because drug use can disrupt the brain’s chemistry and cause changes in mood and behavior.
Self-medication: Some individuals with mental health disorders may use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate and alleviate symptoms such as anxiety or depression. However, substance abuse can make these symptoms worse over time.
Interference with Treatment: Substance abuse can interfere with the treatment of mental health disorders. It can make it more difficult for medications to work effectively or prevent individuals from fully engaging in therapy or other forms of treatment.
Increased Risk of Suicidal Ideation or Behavior: Substance abuse can increase the risk of suicidal ideation or behavior in individuals with mental health disorders. This is because drugs can alter mood and behavior and increase impulsivity.
Additionally, some risk factors, such as genetics, childhood trauma, and environmental factors, may increase the likelihood of both mental health disorders and addiction.
How To Determine if Dual Diagnosis is Present?
There are a few signs one can pay attention to, allowing dual diagnosis to be confirmed as quickly as possible:
Using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate: Individuals with mental health disorders may use drugs or alcohol to alleviate symptoms such as anxiety, depression, or trauma. If substance use is being used to cope with mental health symptoms, it may be an indicator of dual diagnosis.
Onset of Mental Health Symptoms After Substance Use: In some cases, substance use can trigger the onset of mental health symptoms. If an individual experiences the onset of mental health symptoms after using drugs or alcohol, it may be an indicator of dual diagnosis.
History of Substance Use and Mental Health Issues: If an individual has a history of both substance use and mental health issues, it may be an indicator of dual diagnosis.
Unsuccessful Treatment for Either Substance Use or Mental Health Issues: If an individual has undergone treatment for either substance use or mental health issues but has not experienced sustained recovery, it may be an indicator of dual diagnosis.
Changes in Behavior or Mood: Individuals with dual diagnosis may experience changes in behavior or mood that are not typical of either substance use or mental health issues alone. These changes may include extreme mood swings, sudden outbursts, or increased isolation.
If you suspect dual diagnosis in yourself or a loved one, it is important to seek professional help. It is important to address both mental health and addiction issues together, as they can be interrelated and impact each other. A qualified mental health professional can conduct an assessment and determine the best course of treatment for both substance use and mental health disorders.