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Why Mental Health and Addiction Are So Tightly Knit Together

Advancements in treatments for substance abuse have shown that mental health and addiction are tightly knit together. This has led to greater understanding both on the origins of addiction and the most effective ways to treat these issues. Addiction treatment professionals now realize that substance abuse and mental health issues should be treated at the same time to increase the chances for a full recovery. Studies have shown that people who suffer from mental health issues are more likely to develop problems with addiction. And by treating the mental health problems this will also help the addiction issues.

Co-Occurring Disorders

People who suffer from both mental health problems and addiction issues are referred to as having co-occurring disorders. There are moderate to severe levels of these issues, depending on how much the disorders interfere with a person being able to perform day-to-day functions. Some mental health disorders appear to be knit together with addiction more often like:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Social anxiety

Mood and anxiety disorders seem to lead to addiction the most, because people seek relief in drugs or alcohol. They seek to numb or escape from their mental health disorders with substance abuse. Previous to the discovery of how relevant co-occurring disorders were, addiction and mental health problems were treated separately. Unfortunately, this means that if someone’s mental health problems got worse then their levels of addiction worsened also.

Likewise, using drugs or alcohol to cope with mental health problems stopped the person from developing any real tools to cope with the disorders. What develops is a vicious circle where each issue enables the other. This has resulted in addiction treatment professionals having to learn how to treat both issues at the same time. The most cutting edge addiction treatment facilities are now equipped to help people who are suffering from co-occurring disorders. In fact someone who has been diagnosed with co-occurring disorders should make sure that whoever treats them is knowledgeable about co-occurring disorders to achieve the best outcome.

Integrated Treatment

Treating both mental health disorders and substance abuse addiction is called integrated treatment. The goal of integrated treatment is to make sure that in every session both issues are addressed, so that the patient learns how to cope with both problems, and learns the tools and philosophies to start living life in a healthier, addiction-free manner. Studies have shown consistently that integrated treatment is more effective than treating both issues separately. This helps simplify the process for patients, so that they have one set of goals and treatments to focus on, instead of undergoing two different sets of treatments that may have conflicting goals or timelines. They will also learn the cause and effect that happens between mental health and addiction, so that they can be more aware of the patterns that have been created in their lives.

Reaching Out

Some people who suffer from co-occurring disorders do not realize that they suffer from this issue. That is why there has been some community outreach, where people who are homeless or are otherwise suffering are offered help to treat these issues. With the proper treatment, these people may be able to overcome the problems that have left them homeless. Likewise, people who suffer from addiction in general may not realize that they have a problem with co-occurring disorders. They should seek a diagnosis from someone knowledgeable about co-occurring disorders to see if they need specialized treatment.

Differing Rates Of Success

People recover differently when treated for co-occurring disorders. Some people may respond great to treatment, and may be on the road to recovery in a matter of months. Others may require years of specialized care and counseling. Recovery is a personal and individualized journey, and everyone’s path will be different.

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