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The Correlation between Drug Addiction and Mental Health Issues

If you or a loved one are going through the struggles of drug addiction, this can be a very confusing and complicated time. It can be particularly severe if the addict is also facing a mental health issue as well, as the two together can present extra challenges and potential risks.

What is Comorbidity?

Comorbidity occurs when an individual has two or more illnesses, such as addiction and depression, whether they are at the same time or one follows the other. According to NIDA, the fact that addiction is often accompanied by mental health issues does not mean that one causes the other, and it can be challenging to diagnose which came first to begin with.

However, potential reasons for how common comorbidity is among drug addicts is that drug abuse could present symptoms similar to other mental health illnesses, and that mental health issues could lead to drug abuse as a form of “self-medication.” These are just possible explanations for the generalization of comorbidity with addiction, but the individual case varies from person to person.

What is the Risk with Comorbidity?

Addiction and Mental Health

Drug abuse has been shown to worsen the symptoms of a mental illness.

The health risks for individuals with comorbidity are increasingly higher, as the symptoms of their mental illness may be worsened by drug abuse. Substance abuse has been shown to lead to higher signs of violence when associated with mental health illnesses.

One of the issues with comorbidity is that it is often difficult to diagnose each illness, since the symptoms of multiple illnesses may overlap. Drug addiction in itself can cause extreme chemical changes in the addict’s mind, and the same is true for depression, schizophrenia, or other mental health issues, so the individual’s mind undergoes a lot of combined changes through comorbidity.

This can worsen the effects of both, causing a sort of spiral effect as each illness affects the other.

How Does Treatment Work?

With an issue that is so difficult to diagnose, it can be hard to imagine a treatment process that would return the individual to normal health. NIH suggests the many medication-based approaches that could be made in this situation, but also acknowledges that these are not the only way, or even necessarily the most effective.

In this regard, skills-based therapy is suggested as an alternative, as well as dual recovery therapy, an integrated community for the individual, or management therapy depending on the individual’s personal struggles.

The components of psychotherapy involve relaxation methods, coping mechanisms for stress, skills training, and other techniques that are important to train the individual how to move on from the effects of both illnesses. There are many programs and support groups available for individuals looking to take these steps towards recovery.

If you or a loved one are facing the struggles of addiction and comorbidity, just call 800-481-6320 to speak with a caring specialist about any questions or concerns you may have. The road to recovery has its challenges, but in the end you can find a healthy, happy lifestyle.

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