Unfortunately for many, substance abuse and mental health problems often overlap. While these co-occurring disorders are easy to develop, finding treatment isn’t always easy, as evidenced by the numbers. Only 7 percent of individuals with comorbidities get the treatment and support they need, a drastically low number that leaves many enduring more prolonged struggles than they should be. Proper treatment starts with awareness, and knowing how substance abuse can lead to mental illness can help people identify the signs of developing these co-occurring disorders. 

Linking Substance Abuse to Mental Health

Comorbidity between mental illness and substance abuse exists because of how similar the symptoms and causes of these two conditions tend to be. Of course, comorbidity doesn’t always mean that these conditions caused each other. Still, their existence can fuel the severity of the symptoms of each condition and increase the difficulty of recovery.

Understanding how substance abuse can lead to mental illnesses starts by recognizing what substance abuse does to the brain. When someone is addicted to a substance, their brain becomes permanently rewired in an effort to demand more of the product. The changes occurring in the brain from abusing a substance occur in similar locations to the ones that occur when dealing with common mental health conditions, depression, or anxiety disorders. However, the inverse can also be true, as someone with a mental illness may turn to specific substances to reduce the symptoms, leading to a substance abuse problem.

How to Recognize a Dual-Diagnosis

As true for many situations, treating a mental illness and substance use disorder requires the correct diagnosis. Knowing the signs and symptoms of each condition and being able to distinguish the symptoms from one another will go a long way to finding out what mental illness and substances are plaguing each person. In some cases, this can be difficult, as many symptoms overlap or are very different from one another and hard to pinpoint. In general, these are some key warning signs that help identify a dual diagnosis:

  • Individuals who use drugs or alcohol to cope with upsetting feelings or thoughts, face difficult situations, or control mood swings.
  • Individuals who start to notice mental health issues when drinking or consuming a substance.
  • Individuals with a family history of mental health or substance use troubles. It’s believed that anywhere from 40-60% of substance use disorders are attributable to genetics.
  • People who previously received treatment for a mental illness or substance use disorder.
  • People who feel depressed, anxious, or imbalanced even when sober.

Treating Substance Abuse and Mental Illnesses

Treating co-occurring substance use disorders and mental illnesses starts by getting professional help. Substance abuse and mental illnesses are best treated together to ensure the best possible outcome. Dual-diagnosis treatment facilities can provide support groups and expertise from mental health professionals that provide the best outcome for each patient. Proper treatment can also include anything from behavioral therapy and individual counseling to peer support and lifestyle changes. Finding the right combination of treatment methods will help patients get back to experiencing the best life has to offer without the roadblock of addictive substances or mental health deterrents. 

With Steps to Recovery, the Right Treatment Program for Your Dual Diagnosis Is One Call Away

One of the most critical steps on the road to recovery is getting the proper diagnosis. As one of the top dual diagnosis treatment centers in PA, Steps to Recovery is committed to finding effective methods to help you recover from substance abuse and mental illnesses. Our programs educate each individual on their conditions and alert each patient to healthy coping mechanisms that make it easier to deal with mental health and substance abuse problems alike. By contacting us, you can receive support that brings a new sense of comfort and stability to your life or a loved one in need. Call Steps to Recovery today at267.209.7312 to prevent substance abuse or mental illnesses from taking control of your life.