Use of abusive substances and mental disorders are interrelated. In many cases, it has been seen that mental disorders might precede addiction whereas, in other cases, addiction may be the cause of various mental diseases especially in those people who have particular vulnerabilities.
When an individual is suffering from both addiction as well as mental disorder like bipolar disorder, anxiety or depression, it is referred to be a co-existing disorder or dual diagnosis. Under such circumstances, dealing with the addiction problem is quite a difficult task as you have to deal with dual problems. However, undertaking appropriate treatments, support in association with self-help strategies the problem of dual diagnosis can overcome and an addicted person can start living a normal life.
Understanding dual diagnosis
Both the addiction problem and the mental health issue within dual diagnosis have its own unique symptoms. The functioning of the body as well as handling different matters of life will also be affected by dual diagnosis. Additionally, the co-existing disorders also impose a deep effect on one another which stimulates interaction and makes the situation more complicated. If the mental disorder remains untreated, the problem of addiction will get worse. The theory is that an increase in the addiction problem will result in the increase of mental illness in a person.
Mental illness or substance abuse – which comes first?
People having any type of mental disorders are more likely to be addicted to abusive substances. Although, mental illness such as anxiety or depression and addiction are linked however, any one is not the cause of the occurrence of the other.
- Substance abuse increases the underlying risk of mental illness: Mental illness can be the result of a complex relationship of genetics, the surrounding environment along with other outside factors. Any person who is at the risk of having mental disorders, drug abuse may push them over the edge.
- Drugs are also used in the form of self medication during periods of anxiety or depression: There are many side effects associated with the use of different drugs and in the longer term, these effects tend to get worse. Many people are also addicted to drugs as they find it a way to get relieve from anxiety and depression.
- Substance abuse can worsen the symptoms of mental health issues: Getting addicted to drugs can also be the cause of increasing mental illness or can also trigger additional symptoms. Furthermore, drug abuse also interacts with medications like that of anti-anxiety pills, mood stabilizers as well as anti-depressants and renders them to be less effective.
As per the research made by Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), about 50% of individuals who are suffering from any type of mental illness also have substance abusing problems. It was further added in the research that about 37% of people addicted to alcohol are suffering from mental illness and same is the case for 53% people who are drug addicts. The results derived from this research indicate that there exist a very strong relationship between mental illness and substance abuse. Following mentioned are some facts related to mental health and addiction:
- Patients that have their mental illness diagnosed often undergo a medication process which holds some side effects. In order to alleviate these effects, these patients use drugs. For instance, patients suffering from schizophrenia make use of medicines for hallucinations which results in depression. Now in order to deal with depression, these patients use marijuana drugs.
- Mental illness that went undiagnosed can also be the cause of substance abuse since the person attempts to treat the mental illness at their own. Anxiety, depression, restlessness as well as paranoia are most commonly found symptoms which are used in the form of self medication by addicts who have mental issues as well.
- Intake of heavy doses of drugs in the years of adolescence can also lead to mental disorders in the future. The reason is that drug abuse alters social development and cognitive abilities of teens. The alteration of these factors results in anxiety disorders and depression in the addicted person.
- There are some drugs which causes mental illness because of its chronic abuse after a long time. For example, ecstasy has the ability to alter certain chemicals within the human brain which affects human behavior as well as the mood. Such alterations within the brain results in depression and anxiety which is then treated by drugs by the addicted person.
Getting addicted to toxic substances tends to complicate every aspect of care associated with the person having mental disorders. The initial problem is that such individuals find it very difficult to enter into a treatment process. Additionally, diagnosing of the illness also becomes difficult as it takes a lot of time to loosen the effects interacting with mental illness and substance abuse.