Comorbidity has always been a topic of heated discussions. It prompted scientists to conduct numerous research studies to gain insight into mental illness and addiction. Even though their findings may be interpreted in a variety of ways, few baseline concepts remain true at all times.
How do substance abuse and mental illness influence each other? Are they mutually exclusive? That’s what this article aims to shed some light on.
Having to go through a drug addiction is utterly terrifying, but it’s child’s play when you have to deal with mental illnesses which appear as an associated factor.
It’s fair to say that nobody wants to deal with this vile condition and there may be ways to prevent them from reoccurring in the future. There’s just a matter of one single thing – it won’t be easy.
Assistance from doctors, support from friends and family will definitely help you overcome this dual disorder.
Is there a link between drug abuse and mental illnesses?
Simply put, there certainly is. Dependence (or addiction, a matter of semantics) is a condition often observed within people with mental illnesses. No matter how you spin it, conditions like depression, bipolar disorders, and substance addictions are tightly woven together.
It is commonly observed that people with mental disorders such as depression use alcohol, drugs and even non-prescribed medication as a coping mechanism. In turn, however, it achieves exactly the opposite; it is the leading cause of unfortunate side effects and long-term aggravation of the symptoms they were meant to cure.
In short, substance abuse can increase the risk of mental diseases occurring. Mental diseases are directly influenced by the surroundings, genetic predispositions, and other external factors. If you are exposed to these, substance abuse will only accelerate the process, not prevent it.
Not to mention that these substances don’t interact well with prescribed medication for a preexisting condition: antidepressants, tranquilizers and other types of painkillers. Statistically, substance abuse became the leading cause of mental disorders in about a half of alcoholics and addicts.
How to establish a dual diagnosis
There is a huge diagnostic overlap with many theories are surrounding the cause of this dual condition: ADHD, autism, pathological gambling and other lesser known circumstances are believed to be the culprit. A lot of time is needed to properly establish symptoms of a mental disease and separate alcoholic and drug addiction from it, not to mention that diagnosed patients take medication that has the potential to cause adverse side effects.
Denial is also something that can naturally occur as a symptom of alcoholism and may take hold of the situation. It’s quite common within addicts, and it makes the entire situation so much harder to properly assess. It’s difficult to admit to yourself (and to others) that alcohol and narcotics don’t help.
As should be evident and always kept in mind, you won’t solve any mental illness and drug abuse issue by ignoring it.
The leading cause, as per numerous research documents, seems to be genetic predisposition. This concept applies to both mental disorders and drug addictions.
Check your family history for cases of substance abuse. This becomes a prevalent problem if a family member had a history of mental disorders, alcoholism, and drug abuse.
Another important piece of the puzzle, traumatic experiences can easily push a person to take drugs.
Childhood bullying, PTSD, parental abuse; if any of those have occurred in the past, it would be advisable to seek mental health help in advance.
History of usage
Another associated factor is the early exposure to drugs. Being exposed to them in adolescence runs the risk of making the person susceptible to mental illnesses in the future. It is biologically established that human brain continues to develop well into adulthood, and large changes occur during the adolescent phase.
Examine your symptoms while sober and gauge your alcohol tolerance
How likely are you to lose control of your senses? Have you ever felt depressed after drinking?
Just as you stop drinking for a change, you might have a few symptoms of depression or anxiety. And just so you know, this is perfectly normal, but if they don’t pass after you achieve sobriety, you may want to get checked for good measure.
State of psychological comfort
The state which is commonly pursued by addicts. It is only achievable under heavy substances, but the effect is short-term. Outside of it, people have a tendency to become annoyed, have a lowered mood and perpetual substance cravings tend to let themselves be known. But once again, since it bears repeating, drugs can affect brain’s chemistry and alter behavioral patterns.
Treatment and road to recovery
Broad assessment is always required since accurately deciding on a diagnosis is not easy. Patients beginning the treatment of a mental illness should be vetted for mental disorders, the same concept applies if it’s the other way around.
Every patient should be observed during the stages of withdrawal or abstinence to figure out the main symptoms.
Historically, dual disorders were treated concurrently. Patients would continue to get help from separate clinicians, but the efficiency of these treatments is usually called into question. Recently, integrated treatments have become more prevalent and showcase promising results. At least it’ll allow for treatment in a more involved way.