How Mental Health Impacts Addiction Treatment
If you have a co-occurring mental illness disorder with substance use disorder, you have dual disorders Plano & Frisco, Texas. Dual disorders refers to any combination of mental illness and addiction, such as anorexia and meth, alcoholism and depression and anxiety and heroin.
Why It’s Important to Treat Dual Disorders
When treating substance use, we also treat the mental illness since they both work together to keep substance use active. Substance use makes the mental illness worse by increasing episodes of mental health symptoms and making them more intensive or longer-lasting. In addition, the burden of addiction adds cravings for the drug, tolerance to the drug and withdrawal symptoms. Experiencing both mental illness and substance use can be a vicious cycle, where symptoms of one disorder trigger the other.
Treatment must not only help people manage the symptoms of mental illness without abusing alcohol and drugs; it must reach a point where mental health symptoms do not increase the urge to get high or drink in the first place.
Addiction Versus Mental Illness
When trying to disentangle the two phenomena, it becomes clear that every case of dual disorders is different. Some people develop mental health issues as children or adolescents and experiment with drugs and alcohol soon after, developing both simultaneously. Others may “self-medicate” an existing mental health issue with alcohol and/or drugs. Others may develop mental illness symptoms as a result of addiction behaviors, while in other cases mental illness may be dormant until later in life. Every individual is different, requiring a customized intervention.
What Causes Addiction When It’s a Dual Disorder?
Living with a mental illness increases the chance to develop a substance use disorder, but mental illness does not necessarily cause the substance use disorder, as each carries their own risk factors, prognostic factors, diagnostic features and impact on person’s functioning.
Dual disorders develop due to a combination of issues, with different origins:
- Biology – Early childhood exposures, prenatal development, injury or any factor could alter the chemical makeup and function of brain toward drug and alcohol use.
- Genetics – Having a family member who struggles from a substance use disorder and/or a mental health disorder increases the odds that the person develops their own version(s) of the disorder(s).
- Trauma – Physical abuse, natural disaster, sexual abuse and war constitute traumatic experience that lead to drug and alcohol use as a coping mechanism, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders/symptoms.
- Environment – Growing up where drug and alcohol use is prevalent and heavy may trigger development of a substance use disorder.
- Life Experience – Chronic illness as well as regular, high consumption of certain drugs and alcohol may encourage the development of mental health symptoms.
Treating both the mental health disorder and substance use disorder is imperative because they can lead to early death and/or sudden death, whether through suicide or another cause. At Access Counseling Group, we teach clients, whether individuals or families, how to get back on track and address their needs in healthier ways, so they can rebuild relationships and maintain a strong support system for sustained recovery.
Mental Health Disorders that Often Co-Occur with Substance Use Disorders
Major depression is characterized by disrupted sleep patterns; changed eating patterns; suicidal thoughts/behaviors; low energy levels; feelings of joylessness, hopelessness, and sadness; and feelings of low self-esteem, guilt and worthlessness.
Triggers for depression may be events such as job loss, a breakup or death of a loved one, but symptoms that persist more than 6 months indicate treatment is necessary.
Moods shifts that occur in cycles and go from very lows (depressive periods) to very highs (manic periods) constitute a feature of bipolar disorder. The symptoms vary by a person’s location in the mood cycle, but they include: disruption to sleeping and eating patterns; erratic behavior that makes relationships and working with others difficult to manage; mood phases that last from days to months; and extreme mood shifts from hostile to morose, or any extreme emotion to the next.
Rapid breathing, nightmares, avoidance of situations, rapid heart rate, panic feelings, obsessive thoughts, irritational fears and flashbacks of trauma can all point to an anxiety disorder, which may include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), phobias, panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
An anxiety disorder trigged by trauma, PTSD may come from a wide variety of events: natural disaster, war, terrorist attack, rape, physical assault or witnessing the death of another person. PTSD may involve constantly reliving events, or having the same physical sensations and flashbacks of the experience, creating hostile or erratic behavior. People with PTSD may avoid people, places or events that trigger memories of the trauma. They may not completely remember the trauma or specific details leading to it. People may struggle to connect with others and feel agitated or unable to sleep.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Repeated behaviors that are obsessive (repetitive thoughts) and compulsive (repetitive behaviors) that involve fear of not completing them and a perceived lack of control over thoughts/behaviors constitute OCD. People with OCD repeat thoughts & behaviors that may interfere with their home, school or work life.
The Relationship Between Mental Health Treatment and Substance Use Disorder
Sometimes, use of medication designed to address mental health symptoms leads to or constitutes the substance use disorder. When we treat the substance use disorder, we take into account how treatment should differ per individual so it does not further exacerbate the substance use disorder and trigger relapse down the road. We work with you to develop a plan that takes your individual history and needs into account.
Unfortunately, we cannot state that we cure either mental health disorders or substance use disorders. We only treat the symptoms associated with each that tend to destabilize a person’s life. Our evidence-based therapies and treatments can help someone suffering from mental health problems cope more effectively, that is without drug and alcohol use. We develop a personalized treatment plan that can help you and your family thrive without dual disorders Plano & Frisco throwing life off balance.