Managing Co-Occurring Problems with Mental Health and Substance Abuse

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Living with addictions and mental health disorders can be challenging and overwhelming. When these conditions co-occur, managing them can make it even more difficult.

Co-occurring disorders can be a complex and challenging issue to navigate. In this blog post, we’ll explore how addiction affects mental health and available treatment options for those struggling with these conditions.

What are co-occurring addictions and mental health disorders?

Co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders is also known as dual diagnosis or co-morbidity. Approximately 50% of individuals with a substance use disorder also have underlying mental health disorders.

Having a co-occurring disorder can make it challenging to diagnose and treat either condition, as they often exacerbate each other’s symptoms. For instance, substance abuse can worsen symptoms of depression or anxiety, while mental health disorders can lead to self-medication with drugs or alcohol. These vicious cycles can make it challenging to break free from addiction and mental illness.

Common Types of Mental Health Disorders that Co-Occur with Addiction

HHRC-Common symptom of anxiety that co-occur with addiction

Co-occurring disorders can manifest in different ways, and individuals may have different combinations of mental health and substance abuse disorders. Seeking professional help is essential for an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment of co-occurring disorders.

Here are some common types of mental health disorders that co-occur with addiction:

1. Depression

Individuals with depression often turn to drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication to cope with their symptoms. Substance abuse can also worsen pre-existing symptoms of depression, making it challenging to treat effectively.

2. Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are characterized by excessive worry, fear, and nervousness. People with anxiety disorders may use drugs or alcohol to relax or calm their racing thoughts.

3. Bipolar Disorder

This mood disorder causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels. Individuals with bipolar disorder may experience manic or depressive episodes, which can be exacerbated by substance abuse.

4. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a mental health condition that may arise after exposure to a traumatic event. This can prompt individuals to resort to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism to numb their emotions or alleviate symptoms.

How Addiction Affects Mental Health

The impact of addiction and substance abuse on mental health goes far beyond mood swings and erratic behavior. These conditions can also have severe physical, social, and financial consequences that can worsen an individual’s mental health. Here’s how addiction affects mental health:

1. Physical Health Problems

Addiction and substance abuse can lead to physical health problems that can impact mental health as well. For instance, long-term drug use can cause liver and kidney damage, leading to physical pain and discomfort. This physical pain can exacerbate depression or anxiety symptoms, worsening mental and physical health.

2. Social Isolation

Individuals struggling with addiction and substance abuse may withdraw from social activities and loved ones to hide their drug or alcohol use. This social isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety, worsening an individual’s mental health.

3. Financial Stress

Substance abuse can be expensive and it can lead to financial stress and strain on individuals and their families. This financial burden can exacerbate existing mental health conditions and even create new ones, such as panic attacks or sleep disorders.

4. Legal Problems

Substance abuse can lead to legal problems such as DUIs or possession charges. These legal issues can create additional stress and anxiety and aggravate existing mental health conditions.

5. Interference with Daily Life

Addiction and substance abuse can interfere with an individual’s ability to perform daily tasks such as work or school. This interference can lead to feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and shame.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Disorder Treatments

HHRC-Therapy for mental health and addiction recovery

The recovery process is unique to each individual, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Treatment plans should be tailored to the individual’s specific needs and should be flexible enough to adapt to their changing needs throughout recovery. Here are some of the standard treatment options for managing co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders:

1. Integrated Dual Diagnosis Treatment (IDDT)

IDDT is a comprehensive approach that typically involves a combination of medication, therapy, and support groups. This approach involves a team of mental health professionals, addiction specialists, and medical doctors working together to develop a treatment plan that addresses the individual’s unique needs.

2. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

In psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is used to recognize and modify negative thoughts and behaviors that may contribute to mental health disorders and addiction. By teaching individuals coping strategies and problem-solving techniques, CBT can help manage stress and other triggers that may lead to substance abuse.

3. Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

This treatment approach uses medication to manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings associated with addiction. MAT is typically used with behavioral therapy and support groups to address mental health disorders. This can be helpful in dual diagnosis as it manages both the physical and psychological aspects of addiction.

Is addiction a mental health issue?

“Is substance abuse a mental health disorder?” is one of the most debated questions regarding addiction. While experts have differing opinions, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) classifies substance use disorders as a subset of mental health disorders that lead to significant impairment or distress, including symptoms such as cravings, withdrawal, and inability to control use.

In recent years, there has been a push to view addiction as a disease rather than a moral failing or personal weakness. This approach recognizes that addiction can result from changes in brain chemistry, genetics, and environmental factors. Such perspective supports the notion that addiction is a disorder that requires professional treatment, just like any other mental health condition.

The Bottom Line

When mental health and substance abuse disorders coexist, they create a complex condition that can significantly impede one’s ability to maintain a healthy personal and professional life, exacerbating each other’s symptoms.

While supporting a loved one through this condition can be an arduous journey, it’s essential to recognize that you cannot control their choices. You cannot force someone to recover or take their medication, but you can encourage them to seek help, offer support, and maintain their well-being. The path to recovery can be long, and resistance to treatment is common, but every small step forward counts.

Regain control of your lives with Haven House Recovery Center.

For over two decades, Haven House Recovery Center has been providing exceptional care and support to men seeking addiction recovery through our 12-month residential program. Our program offers medical detox services, psychological therapies, and counseling designed to give patients the tools they need to succeed in their fight against addiction.

With a dedicated team of professionals and a commitment to personalized care, Haven House Recovery is a beacon of hope for those seeking addiction recovery in Tennessee. Reach out to us, and let us guide you to a happier, addiction-free life.