Why Mental Health Disorders & Addiction Co-Occur
Up until fairly recently addictive disorders and mental illnesses were treated in two separate facilities. It was soon discovered how closely interlinked both disorders are, and dual diagnosis treatment centers began opening their doors. At Princeton Detox & Recovery Center we understand the importance of treating all existing issues simultaneously. First of all, getting sober is important for an accurate mental health diagnosis. It is difficult to tell exactly what’s going on when a person has been abusing a chemical substance, seeing as the symptoms associated with addiction and withdrawal can mimic the symptoms of mental illness. And it is important to treat mental health disorders to prevent a relapse back into addictive behavior.
Why do mental health disorders and addiction so commonly co-occur? An article published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse states three main reasons.
Reasons Mental Health Disorders & Addiction are Correlated:
- There are many common risk factors when it comes to the development of mental illness and addiction – These risk factors are genetic predisposition, high stress levels, environmental factors and unresolved trauma. The areas of the brain affected by mental illness are also the same areas of the brain affected by addiction. When one or several of these risk factors is present both disorders are more likely to develop.
- Some chemical substances lead to the development of mental health concerns – When the brain is exposed to a chemical substance over and over again, the actual chemistry of the brain begins to change. For example, a person who has been drinking alcohol daily for five or more years is liable to develop a depressive disorder seeing as alcohol is a depressant. Along the same vein, a person who has been abusing a stimulant drug like cocaine or methamphetamine is liable to develop an anxiety disorder.
- Many people who struggle with an undiagnosed or untreated mental illness turn to drugs and/or alcohol as a way of coping – This is called self-medication. While chemical substances might temporarily relieve symptoms associated with mental illness, they will only exacerbate these symptoms and make them worse in the long run.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, roughly 9.2 million American adults struggled with a dual diagnosis disorder in 2018. Unfortunately, the majority of people who struggle with co-occurring disorders fail to seek the integrated care they need. today to learn more about our program of substance abuse and mental health recovery.