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Understanding the Connection Between Mental Health and Addiction

Man thinking about the connection between mental health and addiction

It’s no secret that addiction and mental health disorders often go hand-in-hand. In fact, research has shown that people struggling with mental health disorders are more likely to develop a substance use disorder (SUD) and vice versa. But what is the connection between mental health and addiction—and what does treatment entail? Finding out about all of this is vital in managing your overall health.

For example, dual diagnosis treatment is the best professional help accessible to people with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse problems. If you don’t know what that treatment is, you would have trouble looking for it when you decide to overcome your addiction and mental health disorder. Alleviant Health Centers of Jonesboro offers dual diagnosis treatment programs customized to each patient’s needs. Contact 870.657.0337 to speak today with someone from our caring and compassionate team about mental health and addiction treatment.

How Are Mental Health and Addiction Connected?

There are several ways in which mental health and addiction are connected. People struggling with mental health disorders may use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. This can be especially true if there’s no access to adequate mental health care.

Additionally, the changes in the brain due to substance abuse can worsen pre-existing mental health conditions. For example, chronic alcohol abuse can lead to changes in the brain that resemble those seen in people with mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. Furthermore, mental health disorders and SUDs often share certain risk factors, such as trauma or exposure to stress. This means that people struggling with one issue are more likely to struggle with the other.

Finally, certain substances—such as stimulants—can trigger or exacerbate symptoms of mental illness. This can lead to a vicious cycle in which people with mental illness turn to drugs or alcohol to try to cope, only to worsen their mental health symptoms.

How Are Problems with Mental Health and Substance Abuse Diagnosed?

Problems with mental health and substance abuse are typically diagnosed using a clinical assessment. During this evaluation, a professional will ask you questions about the following:

  • Addiction history
  • Addictive substances that have been abused
  • Family history
  • Medical history
  • Medications and supplements taken
  • Symptoms of addiction and the co-occurring disorder

They may also administer tests to rule out other potential causes of your symptoms. Once a dual diagnosis is made, you can begin working on a treatment plan.

What Comprises Treatment for Addiction and Mental Health Disorders That Co-Occur?

Treatment for co-occurring disorders typically includes some combination of the following:

  • Behavioral therapy – This can help you identify and change thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to mental illness and substance abuse.
  • Lifestyle changes – These may include changes to diet and sleep habits.
  • Medication – Antidepressants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers may be prescribed to help manage mental health symptoms.’
  • Support groups – These groups provide social support for people with mental illness and addiction.

Medication can be used to treat the symptoms of both SUDs and other mental health disorders. Psychotherapy can help you understand and manage emotions, develop coping mechanisms, and build a support system. Support groups can also help by allowing patients to observe that they’re not alone in their struggles and problems. And finally, lifestyle changes—such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep—can help manage mental health and substance abuse issues, improving your overall well-being.

Learn More About Dual Diagnosis Treatment at Alleviant Health Centers of Jonesboro

If you’re struggling with addiction and a mental health disorder, know that you’re not alone. Millions of people suffer from co-occurring disorders, and help is available for mental health and addiction issues. Seek professional help at a dual diagnosis treatment center like Alleviant Health Centers of Jonesboro so you can start on the path to recovery today. Contact Alleviant Health Centers of Jonesboro today at 870.657.0337 to learn more about our dual diagnosis treatment programs.