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Understanding the Connection Between Mental Illness and Addiction

The more we begin to understand about mental illness the more the health care community has begun to see and understand co-occurring disorders, also known as comorbidity. Comorbidity occurs when you either have two disorders (like depression and addiction) happening at the same time which can complicate treatment and the recovery process.

This means that people often do not suffer from just one mental illness or disorder. One of the most prominent disorders that accompany many other mental health issues is substance use disorder (SUD). Here we will briefly go over a few things you should know about SUD and the mental illnesses that can accompany it.

Mental Illness and Substance Abuse

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has shared that data shows a high co-occurrence between substance abuse and these mental and health disorders:

  • Anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Attention-deficit hyperactive disorder
  • Psychotic illness
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Antisocial personality disorder

There is an especially strong cross-over between SUD and other serious mental health conditions. The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines a serious mental illness as, “at any time during the past year, a diagnosable mental, behavior, or emotional disorder that causes serious functional impairment that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.”
Here are a few contributions to the comorbidity between substance abuse disorders and mental illness:

  1. There are common risk factors associated with both substance abuse and mental illness
    • Genetic vulnerabilities
    • Epigenetic Influences
    • Brain Region Involvement
    • Environmental Influences
    • Stress
    • Trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences
  2. Mental illness can be a contributing factor in drug use and addiction
  3. Excessive substance abuse can contribute to the development of mental illnesses

At Jackson House Recovery Centers we try to help individuals struggling with addiction to take the first steps in their journey towards sobriety. Research has proven that long-term and even intermittent drug use can alter the chemical makeup in your brain, which can make the quitting process even more challenging when also dealing with a mental illness.

Our highly trained team is experienced in treating addiction and mental health. We know and understand that substance abuse has the capability of heightening your mental health issues. On the flip side, we also recognize that your mental health disorder could be increasing your risk of substance abuse and dependency. For treatment to be effective, both mental health and substance use conditions must be addressed or the client is at a much higher risk of relapse.

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