When people consider the concepts of drug and alcohol addiction, they more often than not think of these substance abuse issues as singular, isolated disorders and incidents that have little or nothing to do with other physical or mental health disorders. However, the issue of addiction is far more complicated than most people realize and is often interconnected with other mental health disorders. In fact, the tendency to have co-occurring mental health disorders and addiction or substance abuse problems is quite common. This is referred to as a dual diagnosis.
Dual diagnosis is the status of having a diagnosed and documented mental health disorder (also known as a mood disorder) while simultaneously suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction. Mental health disorders and addictions often coincide. However, this does not always mean that the mental health disorder caused the addiction. In fact, sometimes the opposite is true.
Substance abuse and addiction can sometimes lead to mental illness. It is important to note that while one can cause the other and they occur simultaneously, mental health disorders and addiction cannot be treated as one single disorder, but rather as two separate issues. At Drug Treatment Centers Manchester, we understand the importance of addressing both conditions during addiction recovery. Call us now at 860-288-8653 for more information.
As previously noted, mental illnesses and drug or alcohol addiction can interact with each other in two ways. More often than not, mental health disorders precede the development of a substance abuse problem or addiction. For example, a person may be diagnosed with clinical depression and attempt to alleviate the sadness and pain through the use of drugs or alcohol. This means that the addiction stems from an attempt to ease their suffering and self-medicate.
Conversely, a drug addiction can also result in the development of a mental health disorder. In fact, hallucinations, anxiety, and psychosis are all common symptoms of the abuse of certain drugs that can become permanent or a condition in and of themselves even after a person stops abusing the drug in question due to changes in brain chemistry and function.
The truth is that almost any mental health disorder or diagnosis can occur concurrently with a drug or alcohol addiction. However, some are far more typical than others. Furthermore, certain mental health disorders seem to co-occur with specific substance abuse problems.
Obsessive compulsive disorder is a common mental health issue that is most recognizable due to the compulsive behaviors that a person must engage in to feel comfortable or secure. These compulsive behaviors are punctuated by obsessive thought patterns and extreme anxiety regarding compulsions, particularly if these routines are disrupted. Such behaviors can include counting (i.e. counting the number of steps they take, or the number of times they lock and unlock the door), hoarding, and cleaning.
Because OCD causes anxiety and worry, it can often be linked to opiate addiction. Opiates (narcotics) are often prescribed by doctors as pain killers or anti-anxiety medications, though heroin too is an opiate. Opiates have a calming effect on the mind and body, which can lead a person with OCD to attempt to use and then abuse these medications to self-medicate, alleviating overwhelming anxiety and allowing the person to relax and sleep peacefully.
When it comes to mental health disorders and addiction, depression is by far the most common disorder to co-occur with an addiction. Depression is characterized by overwhelming feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness, fatigue and exhaustion, and even physical aches and pains. Many people suffering from severe clinical depression also become lethargic and isolated.
Alcoholism and alcohol abuse are most commonly linked to depression. However, it is not uncommon for depression to coincide with other substance abuse problems as well.
Depressed people may use alcohol to try to numb or dull the sadness they feel, or use it as a social lubricant to make interactions with others bearable. As time goes by, they develop a tolerance to alcohol and require more and more to achieve the same goals and effects and their depression may even become more profound as a result of alcohol abuse and addiction.
Dual diagnosis is a common struggle that people go through when dealing with addiction. It is important to understand that if you are so afflicted, you are not alone. And treatment is available. Look for a dual diagnosis clinic or a drug rehab center that also treats mental health disorders and get the simultaneous treatments you need to move on with your life and overcome these struggles.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance dependence and mental health issues, the professionals at Drug Treatment Centers Manchester can help. Dial 860-288-8653.
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