More Than Mental Illness: Drug Addiction and Mental Illness
People with mental health disorders are more likely than those without them to experience an alcohol or substance use disorder. Living with drug addiction and mental illness makes it hard to live a full life. Co-occurring disorders like drug addiction and depression, make it difficult to hold down a job, develop and maintain personal relationships, get an education, raise children, and more. However, co-occurring disorders are difficult to diagnose due to the complex combination of symptoms. The only way to know for certain if you have an addiction problem in addition to a mental illness is to get formally diagnosed by a mental health professional.
Warning Signs of Co-Occurring Disorders
The consequences of undiagnosed or untreated co-occurring disorders can lead to a higher likelihood of homelessness, incarceration or suicide. There are some warning signs to watch for if you’re concerned you may be addicted to drugs or alcohol in addition to a mental health problem like depression or anxiety:
- You tend to drink or use drugs in response to feelings of anxiety or fear.
- You rely on alcohol or drugs to face situations that scare you.
- You have trouble focusing on tasks without using alcohol or drugs.
- You feel sad, tearful or hopeless for more than two weeks, even if you aren’t under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- You don’t believe that you can control your moods without help from drugs or alcohol.
- You’ve become withdrawn from others as a result of substance abuse.
Those with mental health disorders may use substances to feel better. However, abusing drugs or alcohol won’t fix the mental health disorder and it could prevent you from developing effective, healthy coping skills. Treating just one disorder will not cause the other disorder to automatically improve or disappear. This is why coordinated, integrated treatment is often the best option when you’re struggling with addiction and mental illness.
Integrated Approach to Treating Addiction and Mental Illness
Today’s thinking is that both issues need to be directly addressed at the same time in order to have the best chance at recovery. If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of drug addiction and depression, or other mental illness, seek professional help immediately. If you do have co-occurring disorders, there are integrated treatment options available. To learn more, give us a call at 888.476.9997, or fill out our form.