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How Substance Abuse Is Connected To Mental Illness

According to a National Bureau of Economic Research report, addictive substance use and mental illnesses exhibit a definite connection. Individuals experiencing mental health illness account for 38% of alcohol, 44% of cocaine, and 40% of cigarette consumption.

NBER reports further that individuals diagnosed with a mental health illness at a point in life account for 69% of alcohol, 84% of cocaine, and 68% of cigarette consumption. Such statistics reveal that mental health illnesses have a connection with area 52 substance abuse.

Any of these connections may develop, and each has unique symptoms and causes. What’s more, each has a dual diagnosis or appropriate intervention or treatment methods. And this explains why many people attending AA meetings have been through dual diagnosis plans for treatment.


So far, most cases of substance abuse and mental health illness connection happen when an individual attempts to self-medicate. Most patients develop substance abuse disorders as they attempt to treat the symptoms of a mental health problem. That’s because they find the symptoms uncomfortable or even disruptive and, therefore, try to use drugs or alcohol for self-medicating purposes.

For instance, a depressed person can try to numb their pain using marijuana. A person with social anxiety can drink alcohol to enhance their comfort in social situations. When individuals experience panic attacks, they can use benzodiazepines that may include valium and Xanax to stop attacks even before they begin or calm their symptoms. If a person feels demotivated or lacks energy, they can take crystal meth, cocaine, or Adderall to boost their drive.

There are recreational drugs like molly that people think are harmless. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. So is molly bad for you? Yes, it is, it’s a very addictive drug that can have many adverse side effects on your health and wellbeing. Not to mention this drug can worsen or even bring about acute mental health issues. If you or a loved one is currently experimenting with this drug stop immediately. The sooner you stop the less harm you will cause your body in the long run.

Unfortunately, drugs like alcohol do not help a person address the underlying symptoms of their mental health illness. Instead, they create more problems for the person. What’s more, they increase the severity of the signs of the mental health illness that a person tries to use. Research has also indicated that heavy and prolonged alcohol or drug use causes a wide range of health conditions.

For this reason, dealing with mental health problems and SUDs with treatment methods that incorporate co-occurring issues is necessary to achieve a better overall health impact.

One Disorder Symptoms Can Trigger Others

Most AA support groups report that some drugs create issues that trigger the symptoms of their mental health illnesses. In some cases, a substance may exhibit mental health problems like depression, delusions, and paranoia. And these symptoms occur when an individual uses the drug.

If these symptoms persist after using the drug and its impacts have worn off, they indicate co-occurring mental problems. Examples of such cases include:

Alcohol or chronic substance abuse enhances the possibility of becoming a rape or assault victim. Such traumatic events lead to serious health problems. Examples of such issues include eating disorders, PTSD, and depression. Depression, which is a joint adverse impact of abusing some drugs like alcohol and crystal meth. And this occurs when the drug starts wearing off with symptoms that may deepen into the person’s illness after some time.

Sharing needles or having unprotected sex with individuals suffering from hepatitis C or even HIV can make a person get the disease, eventually struggle with grief and depression, and other life-changing effects. Bad decision-making as most people attending AA meetings USA sessions agree to have made poor decisions under the drug’s influence. Some people make choices they regret later while others go against the law, which leads to struggles with problems like anxiety during drug addiction.

Treatment for Substance Abuse Illnesses and Mental Health Problems

Research indicates that dual diagnosis prevalence is currently above 50%. These are findings from epidemiological and clinical studies. Consequently, clinicians, policymakers, and researchers are paying more attention to identifying and implementing adequate co-occurring disorders management measures. That’s because dual diagnoses have increasingly led to the poor engagement of treatment, relapses, and unsatisfactory treatment results.

Patients with a dual diagnosis should enroll in a program that treats both issues at a go. If mental health illness symptoms are untreated, they can make the patient unable to maintain sobriety or remain clean. What’s more, failure to treat substance abuse issues can render the mental health illness treatment ineffective.

Different types of AA meetings exist to help individuals address dual diagnosis issues. If a person you care about has a dual diagnosis, make sure they get the necessary assistance to address both problems at once. That way, they can recover from addiction and lead sober life with the proper support.

Most individuals suffering from substance use disorders also have mental disorders. Also, vice versa is true. In most studies, half of the individuals with mental illnesses also experience substance use problems at some point in their lives. Currently, there are few conclusive studies regarding youth comorbidity. However, adolescents suffering from substance use problems experience high co-occurring mental health illnesses rates. More than 60% of adolescents undergoing treatments in community-based facilities meet other mental illness diagnostic criteria.

Denial in Dual Diagnosis

Denial is widespread among patients with mental health problems and substance abuse. In most cases, individuals don’t admit that their dependence on drugs affects their lives. Similarly, symptoms of anxiety, PTSD, depression, and bipolar disorder are frightening for some people. Thus, some individuals attempt to ignore them, hoping they will eventually disappear. Others feel ashamed of admitting and being seen as weak for having the problems.

Unfortunately, mental health issues and substance abuse can affect anybody. Admitting that a person has a problem and trying to get help is an essential recovery step.

Final Thoughts

Many people fail to recover from addiction because they don’t receive proper dual diagnosis treatment. Luckily, several facilities treat co-occurring mental health illnesses, as well as substance abuse disorders. What’s more, AA has support groups that help individuals trying to recover from co-occurring diseases. That means you can find inquire how long do AA meetings last and plan to attend. That way, you can recover from your addiction and get the support you need to lead a sober life.

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Suza Anjleena

Suza Anjleena is a Blogger, Tech Geek, SEO Expert, and Designer. Loves to buy books online, read and write about Technology, Gadgets, Gaming, LifeStyle, Education, Business, and more category articles that are liked by most of her audience. You can contact me via Email to: Thanks

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