What causes what? Addiction and mental illness

Addiction is a chronic disease that may be rooted in the brain of the victim, but it affects everyone around them. Careers are pulled apart, families dismantled, and friendships ruined over substance abuse that slowly builds to a place where it seems that there’s no turning back – but that isn’t the case. Addiction is entirely surmountable. You can overcome it, but you’ll have to understand it first.

Mental health

what causes what? addiction and mental healthWhile some may start abusing drugs and alcohol in their adolescent years, setting them up for a dangerous path of addiction, others fall into the practice later in life due to the stress of juggling a home life and career or a dependency on pain medication after an accident. There is a multitude of reasons one might develop an addiction, but a common reason is mental illness. Everyday Health reports that one in five adults in the United States was mentally ill in 2011 — that’s 46 million people. Likewise, there were 20.6 million people in need of treatment for a substance abuse problem that same year.

Comorbid disorders

Through no fault of your own, you might be struggling with a mental health disorder that is wreaking havoc in your life. Anxiety could make you more inclined to reach for a drink or a joint to calm your nerves. In fact, anxiety disorders are some of the most common mental health problems plaguing substance abusers. Among drug addicts, 53 percent have both a substance use disorder and a diagnosed mental illness — the same goes for 37 percent of alcoholics, per the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Turbulent mood swings might lead you to binge drinking or shooting up heroin to numb the pain. For many like yourself, mental illness is present, but not recognized.

Allowing a mental health disorder to go undiagnosed, and therefore untreated, is risky business at best. The vast majority of mental health disorders present symptoms that will worsen over time if not treated. Early intervention is always best with regard to mental illness.

Which came first?

Truthfully, it can go both ways. Each case is different. Mental illness does not cause substance abuse or addiction problems across the board, nor is the reverse true. However, some people struggling with mental health problems will engage in substance abuse that leads to addiction. Likewise, others who regularly abuse drugs or alcohol may find themselves suffering from a mental health disorder because of it. In some cases, treating the substance abuse problem can rectify these illnesses, as is the case with substance-induced psychiatric disorders.

Substances known to induce such problems, per the SAMHSA’s Treatment Improvement Protocols, include:

  • Cocaine
  • Hallucinogens
  • Alcohol
  • Amphetamines
  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine
  • Opiates
  • Sedatives

For others, the conditions developed via substance abuse will be lasting. For some, a mental health disorder being treated with an addictive medication — such as in the case of patients suffering from anxiety disorders that are treated with benzodiazepines — is the precursor to addiction. Most often, addicts abuse both benzos and narcotic painkillers in conjunction with one another. In 2010, 33,701 people were admitted to specialty substance abuse treatment facilities citing both of these drugs as the reason for treatment, per the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. People with serious disorders, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, appear to go untreated more often than sufferers of most other disorders — nearly half of those suffering don’t get treatment, according to Mental Illness Policy. Furthermore, about 50 percent of those with these disorders also struggle with substance abuse problems, per NAMI.

Get the treatment needed today

Regardless of which came first or what disorders are hindering your advancement in life, you’ve come to the right place. At The Recovery Village, we can give you the break you need from life to work on yourself and get back on your feet. By calling us today, you’re taking the first step toward success.

What Causes What? Addiction and Mental Illness
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