The Connection Between Substance Abuse & Mental Illness

Too often, substance abuse and mental illness are considered separate issues. In reality, about 16% of patients seeking help for addiction are also diagnosed with a co-occurring mental health disorder. This is called a dual diagnosis. If you have a dual diagnosis, you need dual recovery.

Substance abuse commonly worsens the symptoms of mental illness, and those diagnosed with a mental health condition often turn to substance abuse as a form of self-medication.

Who is Impacted?

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More men than women are diagnosed with co-occurring disorders.

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In 2017, about 345,000 adolescents aged 12 to 17 reported a dual diagnosis in the past year. That’s 1.4% of all U.S. adolescents.

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In 2017, about 8.5 million adults reported a dual diagnosis. That’s 3.4% of all U.S. adults.

Symptoms of Dual Diagnosis

Before confirming a dual diagnosis, it’s important to understand substance abuse and mental health conditions separately. There are numerous ways in which each issue may impact the other.

Symptoms of Substance Use Disorder Include:

  • Feeling like you need the drug in order to function
  • Developing a high tolerance for the drug
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Engaging in uncharacteristic, risky behavior while under the influence of the drug
  • Failed attempts to stop using the drug

Symptoms of a Mental Health Condition Include:

  • Extreme changes in mood
  • Erratic, confused thinking and behavior
  • Inability or desire to interact with others
  • Significant changes in sleep and eating patterns
  • Disorganized speech
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Genetics
Family history can make individuals more susceptible to substance use and mental health disorders.

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Brain Development
Abusing drugs and alcohol during adolescence can increase the likelihood of a mental health disorder during adulthood.

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Trauma
Traumatic events such as abuse or losing a parent can lead to debilitating addiction.

Treatment Options

The most effective way to treat dual diagnosis patients is with a holistic program that treats all aspects of both illnesses in a single location. Treatment of dual diagnosis is known as dual recovery. Many people wonder, what is dual recovery and why is it important?

Dual recovery is important because it allows you to heal from both your addiction and your mental illness. Untreated mental illnesses can lead you to relapse back into addiction. The same is true for the other way around. However, when you get treatment for both conditions, you get the best possible chance for recovery. Because dual recovery allows you to learn and use coping mechanisms, you get the tools you need to stay sober.

Some people may also wonder, how long does dual recovery take? Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. It can take anywhere from a few months to several years. However, it is a process that can change your life.

The mental health part of a dual recovery program can help a variety of people. For example, some of our mental health treatment programs include:

Are you ready to overcome your addiction and mental illness? We want to help you. Contact Viewpoint Dual Recovery Center today. We can help you learn more about the question, “What is dual recovery?” Then, you can begin the process of overcoming your addiction and your mental illness.

At Viewpoint Dual Recovery Center, we believe the only way to achieve long-lasting change is to treat mental health disorders and addictions simultaneously.