Addiction and Mental Health Conditions: Does It Matter Which Came First?

Addiction and Mental Health Conditions: Does It Matter Which Came First?

More people struggle with drug abuse and mental health conditions than one may think. In fact, the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that nearly 9 million individuals have co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders. The same survey finds that 45% of addicts have a co-occurring disorder, and only 7.4% of these individuals will receive appropriate treatment.

What Causes Co-Occurring Disorders?

Co-occurring disorders, or Dual Diagnoses, are widespread, partially because there are many reasons why people struggle with drug abuse alongside problems like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, personality issues, eating disorders and schizophrenia. The link between mental illness and substance abuse is undeniable, but also complex—many factors lead to both substance abuse and mental health disorders, like brain development, genetics, stress, trauma and neurological factors. As a result, it is incredibly difficult, even for healthcare experts, to determine which disorder came first. A mental health condition can encourage people to abuse drugs for relief, which can evolve into a substance abuse problem, but substance abuse can also initiate a mental health condition.

The tough issue with mental health problems is that these disorders are diagnosed by symptoms instead of scientific tests. People may have no idea when they develop mental health disorders, because their diagnoses will rely on a report of symptoms. Many individuals are unaware of the early signs of mental health issues, so many people self-medicate seemingly minor or unrelated symptoms when they are actually exacerbating a health issue. On the other hand, drugs and alcohol change the brain’s chemical makeup, which means the brain will function differently. A mind-altering substance can certainly change the brain enough to worsen or cause a mental health disorder.

Treating Co-Occurring Disorders

When it comes down to it, it is unimportant to know whether an addiction or mental health condition came first; on the other hand, what is critical for recovery is recognizing a Dual Diagnosis and finding appropriate help. Dual Diagnoses are complex problems, so they should receive integrated treatment that addresses two or more health problems simultaneously. This type of treatment is coordinated to address multiple issues at the same time, and all health professionals collaborate under the same roof. Integrated treatment takes a comprehensive approach by utilizing pharmacological, psychological, educational and social treatment methods in tandem. Neither issue is more important than the other, and treating both disorders simultaneously increases the chances of long-term recovery.

Find Treatment for Substance Abuse and a Mental Health Disorder

To find out more about co-occurring disorders and Dual Diagnosis treatment, call our toll-free helpline now. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to provide the information, guidance and connections you need to find appropriate care. Whether you have questions or are ready to find treatment today, our staff can help, so call now to begin recovery.