How Can Substance Abuse Lead To Mental Illness?
Substance abuse and mental illness very often go hand-in-hand. They are two conditions that exacerbate the other, trigger the other, progress the other, and are symptoms of each other. It’s like the old saying about the chicken or the egg — one is always underlying before the other, and it is unclear which comes first. However, for many people, substance abuse can trigger mental illness first, even if they never knew they had a mental illness. Keep reading to learn about how substance abuse can lead to mental illness and treatment through dual diagnosis.
Understanding Substance Abuse
Among many other issues, substance abuse can cause a variety of long-term and short-term changes to the brain and body. The brain and body can experience many side effects through dependence, tolerance, and addiction, including suffering from mental health conditions. These can include:
- Severe mood swings
These changes to the brain can trigger mental health issues that can become ongoing. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, people addicted to drugs are roughly twice as likely to suffer from mood and anxiety disorders compared with the general population with the reverse also true. In 2015, an estimated 43.4 million (17.9 percent) adults ages 18 and older experienced some form of mental illness (other than a developmental or substance use disorder). Of these, 8.1 million had both a substance use disorder and another mental illness.1 Although substance use disorders commonly occur with other mental illnesses, it’s often unclear whether one helped cause the other or if common underlying risk factors contribute to both disorders.
Understanding Mental Illness
Mental health disorders are very common. In fact, one in five American adults experienced a mental health issue, one in 10 young people experienced a period of significant depression, and one in 25 Americans lived with a severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.
Types of mental illnesses include:
- Anxiety disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Eating disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Panic disorder
- Personality disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Psychotic disorders
Many reasons an individual with a mental health disorder would be statistically more inclined to abuse substances. These include:
- Alleviation of symptoms. Drugs and alcohol can make an individual’s mental health symptoms easier to deal with for a short period of time. However, because mental illness is a side effect of substance abuse, it only compounds and becomes worse.
- For social outings. Many people who suffer from mental illness have a difficult time in social situations. Drugs and alcohol can make you appear more outgoing, talkative, and seem “fun.” However, this is a slippery slope that leads to enablers and dependence.
- Self-medicating. Many individuals placed on medications for their mental health symptoms may start self-medicating or self-dosing their medicines and become addicted to them.
What Is Dual Diagnosis?
To successfully treat substance abuse and mental illness together so that one does not continue triggering the other, dual diagnosis treatment is required. Treating both co-occurring conditions simultaneously will set you up with the best chances for long-term success with your sobriety.
A personal, individualized treatment plan is required for dual diagnosis treatment to be successful. Treatment for substance abuse isn’t cookie-cutter—everyone has different needs, triggers, underlying causes, and co-occurring disorders.
As a world-class substance abuse treatment facility, we dedicate ourselves to treating the co-occurring disorders that may be sparking your substance abuse. While simultaneously working to eliminate your dependence on alcohol or drugs, we strive to free you from related conditions ranging from depression and anxiety to trauma, bipolar disorder, and more. It’s one more meaningful way to recognize you as a unique individual worthy of directed, singular care.
About The Pointe Malibu Recovery Center
It is possible to live a life free of both substance abuse and mental illness conditions. If you are using substances and are finding that your mental health condition is getting worse, it is essential to seek treatment as soon as possible. Substance abuse and mental illness are progressive disorders that can lead to long-term struggles with mental health and addiction, a deadly overdose, or suicide if left untreated.
As with most all of our substance use treatment programs at The Pointe Malibu, we first guide you through detox to rid your body of alcohol or drugs and get your brain and body re-wired to their natural state. Then, from the safe and secure environment of our world-class beachfront facility, you meet one-on-one with your designated licensed therapists who get to know you in-depth. Through these sessions, you obtain a better grasp of your challenges, along with clear guidance on how to overcome them and achieve full, long-term recovery.
Dual diagnosis enables us to design a comprehensive treatment plan that effectively addresses both your substance use and mental condition. Treating one without treating the other can slow down and even negate recovery, leaving you confused and disillusioned. But through our skilled professional staff and proven, evidence-based treatments, we can help you heal at every level and show you healthier ways to deal with underlying issues.
If you’re ready to start your journey to long-lasting recovery from substance abuse and mental illness, we are here for you.