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Why do Mental Health Disorders Coexist with Substance Use

Why do Mental Health Disorders Coexist with Substance Use

Mental health disorders are conditions that affect the way a person processes information. It not only affects how someone thinks, feels, and behaves, but how they interact with others.

Mental health disorders fall into six main classifications: 

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Mood disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Spectrum and other psychotic disorders
  • Substance use disorders
  • Eating disorders.

Moreover, the statistics and data illustrate that mental illness and addiction often overlap. Many mental disorders are stressful to live with. Substance use distracts from this reality. Substance use often leads to substance abuse in mental disorder patients. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly nine million people have a mental disorder. Of these nine million, they also experience substance abuse. However, of this substantial number, only seven percent seek treatment for both of their conditions. More than sixty percent receive no treatment and are on their own. 

Mental health disorders and substance abuse are two major causes of disability in the United States. Mental health disorders and substance abuse often co-occur. For example, people who have mental illnesses are more likely to use and abuse substances. Research has shown that some mental illnesses can lead to addiction.

A Look at Co-Occurrence

Psychiatric co-occurrence is the simultaneous occurrence of two or more mental disorders in an individual. Thus, co-existing together. Mental health disorders and substance abuse are intrinsically linked. The co-occurring conditions of mental health disorders, as well as substance abuse can be difficult to treat. There are multiple risk factors for developing a co-occurring condition. The following issues increase the risks:

  • Age: Being older increases the risk of developing a co-occurring condition.
  • Family history: If someone in your family has had an addiction or mental health issues, you have an increased chance of developing one.
  • Genetics and biology: Your genetics, as well as biology play a role in your risk for addiction.
  • Childhood trauma: Trauma during childhood can increase the risk that you will develop an addiction or mental health issue later in life.
  • Having been diagnosed with ADHD, PTSD, bipolar disorder, or depression
  • Having experienced trauma as an adult

Difficult Diagnosis

Diagnosing co-occurring disorders is difficult. Firstly, the person may not be able to tell which type of treatment they need. Secondly, they are unsure which disorder is the most serious. Some steps lead to diagnosing co-occurring disorders. The following will give you a brief outline. A licensed and qualified treatment center will ask the following:

1) Asking the person about their symptoms – do they have any thoughts of suicide? Do they feel depressed? Have they ever abused substances?

2) Ask them about their personal history – when did their mental health or substance use problems start?

Through the narration of medical history and background, doctors make their discoveries. With a physical exam and series of medical testing, a diagnosis or multiple diagnoses emerges.

Substance abuse is a means for many to self-soothe and cope. There is a high rate of co-occurrence between addiction and mental illness. This does not, however, indicate that one caused the other. They coexist in certain individuals. At other times the brain is predisposed to addiction regardless. Substance abuse is a means for many to self-soothe and cope.

If you are struggling with a mental health disorder and not receiving treatment, contact your doctor today. If dealing with co-occurrence of substance abuse, help is available. Are you ready to work through your addiction and accept the support you need? Take the first steps toward recovery, and contact the Harm Reduction Center. Our experienced professionals understand that the recovery process is a big undertaking. Our private healthcare facility offers the resources you need to begin your journey. Contact us today.