Any expert dealing with mental health issues will tell you how important it is to treat addiction issues if there are any. Addiction and mental health issues can go hand in hand and often exacerbate each other. If a patient is given the treatment for both conditions, there is an increased likelihood of them getting better. However, for this to occur there should be awareness that a patient is suffering from both conditions at the same time. More often than not, one of these problems can go unnoticed, which means more chances of relapse in addicts.
The Link Between Mental Health and Addiction
In scientific terms when two problems exist together in humans, it is called co-morbidity. For many addicts, it common to have some kind of underlying mental health issue that worsened their condition over time. On the other hand, a person who has serious mental health issues may end up experimenting with drugs to get some kind of mental respite. Both conditions can lead to the other, i.e., addiction to mental health impairment and mental health impairment to addiction. They can worsen each other over time.
The comorbidity of these conditions can be due to the fact that both of these conditions are chronic brain disorders. When a person is struggling with addiction, the substance they are abusing can permanently rewire their brain in such a way that it starts functioning differently. Addiction is no different from diabetes or a heart disorder, an addict has to learn to control their condition all their life. This can become difficult if they have another mental health disorder as well.
Evidence suggests that addictive substances affect areas of the brain that are also impacted due to conditions like anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. So, there is no surprise that mental health treatment is warranted in addicts and vice versa.
The Numbers Tell The Tale
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates that in the United States, almost 9 million people suffer from co-occurring mental disorders. Here what the worrying factor is that only 7 percent of these people get treatment for both conditions whereas 60 percent do not get any kind of treatment.
Other data from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) shows that there is a definite link between addiction and mental health disorders. NBER data has demonstrated that patients that are addicts and suffer from some kind of mental health disorder are responsible for the consumption of 44 percent of cocaine, 40 percent of cigarettes, and 38 percent of alcohol.
Patients that had any mental disorder at any point in time consume 84 percent of cocaine, 69 percent of alcohol, and 68 percent of cigarettes at one point in time.
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Understanding The Risk
There is not only a direct relationship between both of these disorders but according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, these conditions can play other roles as well that can lead to dire consequences. For example, if a person is an addict, he may start to experience other symptoms of mental disorders as well, the ones that he never had before. It has been seen that people who abuse drugs like marijuana and have mental disorders may start to suffer from psychosis. People who might have a mental health disorder may also begin to self-medicate with substances that are addictive like drugs, smoking, and alcohol. Schizophrenic patients that use nicotine-containing substances can experience lessening of certain symptoms and may have improved cognition.
Certain factors can increase the risks of both these conditions like underlying brain deficits, genetic influence, age, and exposure to trauma. Estimates suggest that 40 to 60 percent of a person’s vulnerability to addiction may be because of genetics. In other cases, genetics has been shown to play an important role in mental health disorders as well.
Veterans, children, and teens are also at an increased risk of suffering from these conditions as well. For children and teens suffering from trauma when their brain is still developing not only leads to dire consequences but can cause the brain wiring to go haywire in such a way that puts them at an increased risk of addiction and other mental health disorders. Other studies show that one in five veterans that have seen war can develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or major depression. PTSD has been linked with addiction issues in scientific research over the years as well.
Mental health issues can lead to relapses as well. Even if people get help for their addiction, and avoid getting treated for what caused it in the first place, mental health issues may crop upon them and cause them to relapse. To avoid relapse, you must deal with core mental health issues.
Chronic addiction may also lead to severe mental health disorders. People who are addicted to different substances increase their risk of becoming victims of assault, rape, and incarceration. All of these issues can further deteriorate mental health and lead to a vicious cycle without an end.
Providing Addiction and Mental Health Treatment Together
Mental health experts anywhere in the world will tell you that any health conditions that occur together need to be treated together, especially if they have a direct relationship. An integrated mental health treatment that also helps you deal with addiction issues, once you have been properly diagnosed is the right way to go. Not only is this comprehensive, and allows the doctor to get a better sense of your mental health, it can lower treatment costs as well.
Using a two-pronged approach in such cases can greatly improve health outcomes and improve a person’s quality of life at the same time. However, one thing that is significant to remember here is that a person suffering from mental health disorder and addiction may find it difficult to receive treatment that works without its kinks. Such individuals often have symptoms that are resistant to treatment and are more severe than in people who have only one of these conditions. It is a longer and a more difficult road but it can be traveled with the help of the right counselors and therapists, with much more ease.
A quality mental health treatment center can help you provide support if you have mental health and addiction issues. The first step to recovery will be getting the right assessment. Though personal medical history is always helpful while diagnosing a case, starting afresh and looking at all the evidence with a fresh eye can help the doctor and therapist to identify the root causes of your issues. Afterward, you may be given a combination of the following therapeutic interventions or only one, depending upon how much help you may need. These mental health treatment programs can include:
All of these treatments may be given to you depending upon your condition. You may have to stay at a rehabilitation center or get outpatient treatment. In most cases, where a person is suffering from both these conditions and the doctor fears relapse, you might have to stay at our treatment center to get the maximum therapeutic advantage.