Countless people are diagnosed with one form of mental illness or another every day. Obviously, mood disorders such as anxiety and schizophrenia present real challenges in one’s life. However, adding alcohol or drugs to the equation further complicates matters. As such, caring for a loved one who is struggling with any form of co-occurring disorders requires not only compassion but also some understanding of how addiction and mental illnesses interact with one another. After all, this understanding will go a long way in encouraging your loved one to seek dual treatment as a means to fully recover from their addiction. In this article, we will further the detail the impact of alcohol and drugs in the context of mental health and also outline a few co-occurring disorder treatment options.
What Are The Symptoms Of Co-occurring Disorders?
Similar to contraindications that can occur between prescription medications, drugs and alcohol can completely change the dynamics of a patient’s addiction. In fact, there are a variety of serious symptoms that can deepen and also worsen one’s mental disorders when alcohol or drugs become part of the equation, including:
- Ruminating or intrusive thoughts
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Increased feelings of anxiousness
It should be noted that these symptoms can greatly increase one’s susceptibility for addiction as they continually turn to drugs and alcohol as a means of coping with their mental health disorders. To help put all of this into context, we need only take a look at a 2016 survey that detailed the health implications of drug use and several common mental health disorders, including mood disorders, anxiety, PTSD, and many more. The survey indicated that 3.4 percent of Americans have a substance abuse problem that is coupled with a mental health disorder. Also, 2.6 million of those surveyed admitted to having a serious co-occurring mental health and drug abuse problem within the past year.
Obviously, treating addiction of any kind is challenging; however, in the face of mental illness, it is much more difficult. That said, some of the more common co-occurring disorders include:
- Depression and cocaine addiction
- Panic disorders coupled with alcohol addiction
- Poly-drug abuse and borderline personality disorders
It should be noted that genetics and hereditary factors can play a tremendous role in determining how those with mental health problems will be affected by the commingling of alcohol and drugs. Nonetheless, there are some symptoms that are salient amongst those addicted to pain relievers, marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. These symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Sleep problems
- Profuse sweating and shakiness
- Withdrawing from social activities
- Personality shifts
- Thoughts of suicide
Obviously, there are many more symptoms, but for the sake of brevity, we have only outlined some of the more common ones. Nonetheless, these symptoms can help practitioners outline a course of therapy that is most likely to benefits those who are struggling with addiction in the face of mental health.
What Is Integrated Treatment For Dual Diagnosis?
When it comes to treating addiction commingled with substance abuse, a certain degree of expertise in identifying and treating the disorder is essential. This means that if you’re tasked with helping your loved one find help for their problems, you’ll need to find a treatment facility that is well-versed in co-occurring disorder treatment. These facilities offer an array of services to their patients including:
- A staff of addiction therapist, counselors, and psychiatrists, collectively working towards the betterment of the patient
- Aftercare recovery resources
- Provides holistic recovery aimed at dual diagnosis and treatment
- Offers pharmacotherapy to help combat anxiety and depression symptoms
- Expert collaboration amongst all parties involved in the patient’s treatment and overall well-being
Genetics And Co-occurring Disorder Treatment
Whether you’re a proponent of genetic testing or not, the scientific community has shown that there is, in fact, a correlation between substance abuse and genetics. Why is this important, you ask? Well, science has shown that those with a family history of mental illnesses are more likely to be diagnosed with one themselves. Also, the susceptibility for addiction is higher among those with a family history of addiction. For physicians and others involved in patient care, this is information can be helpful in outlining integrated treatment for dual diagnosis.
Social Ramification Of Mental Illness And Substance Abuse
Having detailed a few symptoms synonymous with commingled substance abuse and mental illness, along with effective treatment protocols, let’s take a moment to explore the social impact that the combination can have on one’s life. Those struggling with the duality of mental illness and substance abuse are also dealing with the following:
- An inability to function socially
- Financial problems
- Instability in terms of relationships
- Problems gaining or maintaining employment
In summation, the combination of substance abuse and mental illness can have severe and long-lasting effects. Fortunately, with the help of physicians and mental health professionals, along with a better understanding of genetics, there is a way to overcome these demons. If your loved one is battling drug or alcohol abuse and has a mental illness, you’re encouraged to help them find the treatment they so desperately need.