Dual Diagnosis: The Relationship Between Mental Health & Drug Addiction

A 2017 study showed that 18% of adults have a mental health condition, and almost half of them have a substance abuse disorder. Mental health is a very important component in understanding and combating addiction, as the two exist in tandem. A co-occurring disorder (also known as dual diagnosis) is a term used to describe when an individual simultaneously suffers from both a mental illness and an addiction. Often times, people begin using drugs to try to mitigate symptoms of mental illnesses. As the brain begins to develop a chemical dependence to the drug, addiction quickly takes hold. As a co-occurring disorder treatment center, our staff is well-prepared to treat not just addiction, but its underlying causes.

Close-up photograph of the the word “addiction” listed in a dictionary.

Addiction becomes more complicated when mental illness is involved.

Common Examples of Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-occurring disorders could include any combination of mental health and substance use disorders, but there are some that are more common than others: 

Anxiety & Cocaine Addiction

As a stimulant, cocaine use excites the brain’s neurotransmitters. This exaggerates any existing anxiety issues that a user may have before ingesting the drug. Even individuals without a history of anxiety can experience feelings of nervousness or even panic attacks while using cocaine, and these effects only increase for those with pre-existing anxiety disorders. 

Depression & Heroin Addiction

According to the World Health Organization, depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. Some people who suffer from depression begin using heroin to help their mood improve, as heroin causes temporary feelings of euphoria. However, after even one use, heroin may cause users to experience a depressive state. This can lead to depressive episodes and even suicidal thoughts with those who have a history of depression.

PTSD & Opioid Addiction

Individuals who have experienced intense trauma often develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) within a few months after a traumatic incident occurs. To treat PTSD, some will self-medicate with prescription painkillers (opioids), which can be highly addictive. A user’s PTSD and opioid addiction will then begin to fuel each other, causing feelings of agitation, physical pain, and intense anxiety.

Treating Dual Diagnosis at Footprints Beachside Recovery

Footprints Beachside Recovery is a holistic treatment center that is well-equipped to treat co-occurring conditions. We know that each dual diagnosis case is different. That’s why we craft individual treatment plans for our clients based on both their history with substance use and mental health. Read more about our approach to drug and alcohol treatment

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