What is the relationship between addiction and mental health?

Like many people who struggle with substance abuse, you may be beating yourself up for your inability to break your addiction “cold turkey”. After all, the decision to start using drugs is easy. Choosing to stop using, however, can be plagued by feelings of anxiety, self-doubt, guilt, shame, and failure. For some people, even enrolling in professional drug treatment programs doesn’t work. The good news is that you aren’t at fault for your inability to make this important change all by yourself. Moreover, if your past attempts at addiction treatment didn’t work, it’s probably because your chosen program didn’t take the right approach.

Addiction is frequently tied to underlying mental health issues that must be addressed for recovery to succeed. Until this happens, you can be caught in a destructive and incredibly stressful cycle of attempting to quit and relapsing. When underlying mental health issues exist, these conditions can make the withdrawal process infinitely more challenging. It’s also important to note that people with undiagnosed mental health disorders are often using drugs to self-medicate the pain that they’re feeling. Getting the right help and support is critical for making it through this challenging process successfully.

Treatment for people with co-occurring disorders is commonly referred to as treatment for comorbidity. These types of programs take a whole-health approach to helping people achieve lasting sobriety and wellness. Patients have the opportunity to get effective treatment for both their substance use disorder, and any underlying mental health problems that they’ve been living with. This eliminates the need to self-medication with drugs or alcohol, and gives patients the chance to achieve and maintain mental and emotional stability.

Why Comorbidity Makes Recovery So Challenging

People often used drugs or alcohol to alleviate the symptoms of mental health issues that they may not be aware of. Undiagnosed and untreated, these issues can cause a significant amount of emotional and even physical discomfort. From bi-polar disorder to chronic anxiety and depression, there are countless ailments that can cause people to self-medicate. Unfortunately, using drugs and alcohol to alleviate an untreated mental health issue can actually make its symptoms worse. It most cases, this causes people to use increased amounts of drugs or alcohol over time, in order to recreate the same pain-relieving benefits.

The more drugs or alcohol that these individuals use; the worse their symptoms invariably come. This dangerous and self-perpetuating cycle can keep substance users trapped for years or even decades. In many instances, it’s possible to effectively treat addiction by simply taking away the need to self-medicate. For instance, if you’ve been using drugs or alcohol to combat severe depression, living drug and alcohol-free will prove far easier once your depression is managed in a safe, effective, and healthful way.

The Most Common Types Of Co-Occurring Disorders

Any untreated mental health disorder can cause a person to self-medicate. However, among people who suffer from both substance use disorder and undiagnosed mental health issues, some disorders are more common than others. These include:

  • Anxiety Disorder
  • Bi-polar Disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Severe Depression
  • Anti-social personality disorder

There are also commonalities among the ways in which people choose to self-medicate each disorder. For instance, people who live with untreated anti-social personality disorder often struggle with alcoholism. Cocaine is frequently the drug of choice among those who suffer from chronic anxiety, and marijuana is often used by those with undiagnosed schizophrenia. Sadly, the same substances that people choose to promote feelings of euphoria, ease, relaxation, focus, or power, are often the very substances that have the worst impact on their underlying conditions.

Establishing A Treatment Plan That Actually Works

Treatment for comorbidity includes all of the same elements that are found in traditional drug and alcohol rehab. Patients must still go through the detox process, participate in group and individual counseling, and work with case managers to establish solid plans for achieving and maintaining sustainable lives post-treatment. The primary difference is that each of these elements includes additional support for addressing their co-occurring disorders. In some instances, this can be medication-based support.

During treatment, licensed doctors can prescribe medications for promoting a more balanced state of mental health when mental health issues have physiological causes. In instances in which depression, anxiety, or severe stress are trauma-based, treatments can also include talk therapy and various natural strategies for ongoing stress management. Programs for comorbidity can be life-saving for patients who are tired of constantly having to fight for a sense of peace and equilibrium. Not only are clients able to successfully deal with their addictions, but they’re also able to get the long-lasting relief that only comes with proper diagnosis and treatment of underlying issues.

Free Yourself Of The Pain, Guilt, and Shame Of Failed Recovery Efforts

If you live with a co-occurring disorder, the failed recovery efforts in your past are something that you can now let go of. People with co-occurring disorders who struggle in addiction treatment don’t lack willpower or strength. They simply need treatment that addresses all aspects of their addictions, including the underlying mental health issues that have caused them. If you’re ready to start moving your life forward to achieve mood balance, stable mental health, and lasting sobriety, we can help. Call us today at 833-497-3808.