There’s a profound link between unhealthy use of alcohol and drugs and mental health problems. While not everyone who has an addiction has an untreated mental health disorder, many people do. Understanding this risk could help you to recognize the signs that you need to seek out help for drug and alcohol addiction.
Mental Health Problems and the Link to Substance Use Disorder
A person with untreated mental health disorders may be at higher risk for the development of substance use disorder (SUD). Mental health disorders that accompany SUD are called co-occurring disorders and include:
- Bipolar disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
The key to remember here is that either condition can occur first. A person with an untreated mental health disorder could develop SUD. A person who has SUD first may also begin to see the onset of mental health disorders.
Why Does This Happen?
According to the data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are several reasons why co-occurring disorders develop.
For one, some people with mental health disorders use alcohol or drugs as a way to feel normal. It allows them to feel as though they fit in and are accepted by friends. A second reason is that these substances can sometimes help to control the symptoms of mental health disorders. Drinking alcohol, for example, can help to calm the nerves associated with anxiety disorders or reduce hallucinations associated with schizophrenia.
Signs of a Co-Occurring Disorder
When a person suffers from both mental health disorders and SUD, treatment of both disorders simultaneously is critical to ensuring the long-term health and well-being of the individual.
Could you have a co-occurring disorder? The following are some of the most common symptoms to look out for:
- Hiding your drug or alcohol use, a type of subconscious recognition that continued, heavy use isn’t healthy
- Turning to a substance when you feel symptoms of anxiety or depression, or just “to get through the day”
- Changes in personality and behavior, often feeling like you are not “yourself” if you cannot use substances often
- Using substances to stop negative thought processes
- Sudden mood swings, irritability, or angry outbursts
Many people who suffer from a co-occurring disorder will struggle to hold a job and maintain healthy relationships. Some people may think about suicide or frequently talk about death and their feelings of hopelessness. Other times, sleep problems, difficulty with eating, and other health complications can arise. All of these situations warrant treatment.
How Treatment Changes Futures, and How We Can Help You
Unhealthy drug use is not uncommon, but it is life-threatening. Continued use of substances is toxic for your body and your brain, but treatment is available. A core component of that treatment will be having an assessment to determine if any mental health disorders exist alongside your SUD. If so, you’ll receive treatment for both conditions at the same time.
For many people with mental health disorders, the only thing that makes them feel normal or capable of meeting their responsibilities is the use of substances. The thought of taking substances away can be frightening. In treatment, you’ll learn strategies for managing your mental health disorder without substances. This may include a combination of medication, therapy, and self-care.
What to Expect in Treatment for Addiction and Mental Health Disorders
Drug and alcohol treatment is comprehensive and designed to meet your individual needs. Here are some elements you can expect:
- An assessment: This allows us to fully understand what you are facing so that a customized treatment plan can be developed.
- Withdrawal treatment: For those who are dependent on substances, a period of detox is often necessary to help the body break that dependence safely.
- One-on-one treatment with your therapist: You’ll work through all of the “whys” of your disorder during the individual therapy sessions.
- Group therapy: By engaging with others who have similar struggles, you’ll learn more about how to manage your addiction, mental health disorders, and daily stressors.
- Holistic care: You’ll also have access to the type and level of care your body, mind, and spirit need to manage the recovery process.
When it comes to improving your overall health and well-being, it’s critical to have a team by your side to help you. At The Ranch at Dove Tree in Lubbock, TX, we can be that team. We’ll provide you with a customized treatment plan to address your needs for both SUD and mental health disorders.