Are Drug Addiction and Mental Illness Connected?

Not so long ago, addiction was considered a moral failing. Something voluntary that was a choice. Addicts were seen as bad people, selfish, and even hedonistic rather than individuals suffering from a chronic, debilitating disease. Fortunately, after years of research, the outlook on addiction and addiction treatment has changed. The current model shows addiction is a chronic, progressive disease of the brain. Recent studies concerning addiction have identified a high instance of co-occurring mental illness among those who suffer from substance use disorders. This had led to many questions, including, is there a relationship (or even causation) between addiction and mental health?

How Are Drug Addiction and Mental Illness Related?

Mental illness and addiction indeed overlap. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), of the more than twenty-one million Americans who struggle with addiction, nearly nine million of those have a co-occurring mental health disorder. Yet, only seven percent will ever get treatment for both conditions. This is even less than the percentage who may seek addiction treatment. A staggering sixty percent will receive no treatment at all.

Comorbidity refers to the fact that two conditions, in this case, addiction and mental illness, coexist together. This means that for many people with addictions, there is also an underlying mental health condition. While neither condition technically causes the other, they often exist together, and, in some cases, one can exacerbate the symptoms of the other. To better understand how comorbidity occurs, it is helpful to recognize that mental illness and addiction are chronic brain diseases. When someone struggles with an addiction, their brains have been permanently changed by their substance abuse.

Consequently, the brain begins to function differently than before. Also, the changes that take place in the brain due to addiction occur in the same brain areas that are impacted by mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Although science has yet to prove a direct link, some mental health issues are thought to increase the risk factors for substance abuse as individuals struggling with these mental conditions will often turn to alcohol or drugs to cope with their mental illness symptoms.

Integrated Treatment Options

The most successful treatment programs treat co-occurring conditions simultaneously. With integrated treatment, doctors and counselors can address and treat both disorders at the same time, which offers the lowest treatment costs and creates better patient outcomes. Creating a comprehensive, individualized plan that treats both conditions has been shown to have the most success. Currently, treatments for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues include behavioral therapies and medications used together as part of a customized treatment plan.

There is still a lot to learn about co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders. However, understanding that the two are closely related is an essential step in treating people who experience both. It is now recognized that co-occurring mental health substance use disorders are common. Therefore more health care providers are trying to screen anyone who seeks treatment for one or the other for conquering conditions. This way, both illnesses can be treated simultaneously, and there is no expectation that the individual must complete treatment twice or return for additional treatment.

Rise in Malibu Treats Addiction

At Rise in Malibu, we have a highly experienced staff dedicated to your recovery. Our comprehensive, individualized treatment plans are centered around our addiction treatment program’s most important element, your recovery. Our evidence-based program, extensive aftercare planning, luxury amenities, and holistic therapies combine to provide you with the opportunity to achieve long-term sobriety and recovery. If you are ready to take the first step towards a substance-free life, contact Rise today for a tour of our luxury addiction treatment facility in Malibu.

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