If you're finding it hard to stop drinking or using drugs even though may have received help for your addiction, you could be suffering from a mental health condition that's gone undiagnosed or that isn't being treated. Many substance abuse programs provide individual mental health evaluations before their clients treatment begins because co-occurring disorders make a huge difference in treatment, but not all of them do.
People that are diagnosed with a co-occurring disorder (dual diagnosis) are struggling with a substance abuse problem and mental health condition at the same time and it's much more common than people may realize. Mental health illness and substance abuse disorders are often linked together and if gone undiagnosed and treated, recovery from addiction will be extremely difficult and relapse often occurs.
Unless a person has been previously diagnosed with a specific form of mental illness prior to substance abuse, it can be difficult to determine if some mental health conditions have developed due to drug abuse. Drug abuse has a major impact on the brain and some of the long term effects can lead to mental health disorders down the road. Some drugs like ecstasy (MDMA) affect areas of the brain that are responsible for the production of serotonin and can cause mental health problems like anxiety and depression for a long period of time.
It's not uncommon for a person to begin drinking or using certain types of drugs as a form of self-medication to relieve symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress whether they suffer from a mental illness or not. Many adolescents and adults seek emotional relief through the use of drugs or alcohol just to cope and feel better for a while. Unfortunately the symptoms their wanting to alleviate become worse in the long-run and they risk becoming addicted in the process.
Mental Health Conditions Associated With Co-Occurring Disorders
- Forms of depression
- Bipolar Disorder
- Attention deficit disorder
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- OCD (Obsessive-compulsive disorder)
- Personality Disorders
PTSD is another mental health condition that can lead to the abuse of drugs or alcohol if a person doesn't receive help. Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder that can develop after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic experience or a life threatening situation. In order to cope with symptoms they may be experiencing over and over, some people self-medicate their emotions with alcohol or drugs. When gone untreated it can be very difficult for a person to stop drinking or using drugs.
Various substances are often abused among individuals with a mental health disorder such as; alcohol, tobacco, opiates, sedatives, stimulants, marijuana, nicotine, hallucinogens, and prescription drugs. Co-occurring disorders can also include the abuse or addiction to more than drug.
Co-occurring disorders are treatable as long as a proper diagnosis is made and both the substance abuse disorder and mental health condition is addressed and treated at the same time. Depending on the level of care a person may need if they're diagnosed with a co-occurring disorder, effective treatment can be provided in a hospital, inpatient or outpatient rehab setting.