How Mental Illness and Addiction Impact Each Other

Mental illness is often made worse by the use of drugs or alcohol, but sometimes it starts because a person wrestles with mental health complications. There is a strange, dark interplay between the two and it can increase the risk of relapse when someone is in recovery. With the two intricately intertwined in a difficult dance, these two disorders need treatment together in a dual diagnosis environment that provides the best outcomes for the person seeking treatment. Find out how and why they interact with each other and how to find the right treatment for mental health and addiction.

Mental Health and Addiction

Associating mental health with addiction is based on research from people around the world that shows there is a bit of a chicken or the egg scenario. It is hard to know which comes first because it is a complex interplay at work. The following are just a few conditions that may pop up and be associated with dependency on drugs:

  • Bipolar illness: this is cycles of depression and elevated mood or mania. People who drink alcohol with the bipolar illness often seek to mask symptoms and even out mood swings, but end up making it worse
  • Anxiety: men and women wrestle with anxiety disorders, which can lead them to use drugs or alcohol as a way to navigate difficult feelings and emotions
  • Schizophrenia or similar disorders: hallucinations, delusional thinking, and hearing voices may cause a person to seek drugs or alcohol to ease the distress over those symptoms. With a mental disorder, the person may be less inhibited and more likely to show risk-taking behavior. People with a mental disorder may struggle from impaired judgment and consume higher amounts of drugs or alcohol
Biology or Physiology

Other factors can influence a person’s decision to use drugs or alcohol and result in addictive behaviors. The complexities of mental health and addiction can begin with:

  • Genetic predisposition that accounts for co-morbidity of substance abuse and mental disorders
  • Neuro-chemical factors: serotonin reduction may be the reason some people turn to alcohol and anxiety disorders may also coincide with it, too. Addiction and mental health disorders may be related to brain chemicals called monoamine oxidases, which demonstrate the power of the brain related to addictive behaviors
  • Environmental factors: the environment is a huge factor in substance abuse and mental health disorders. This can be anything from family and friends who use drugs in the environment to neighbors who are doing drugs and offering it to others

The exact relationship is complicated but fifty percent of people with addictive disorders also have a psychiatric disorder. This can lend itself to addiction, even if people don’t know why these are an increased risk factor for addiction. Treating someone with dual diagnosis treatment is effective because it gets to root causes, provides medication was needed for mental health issues and addresses addiction all at the same time. One may mask the other, but without treating both, it might end up with someone not getting what they need to heal. The goal is to heal the whole person and dual diagnosis treatment offers just that for those who struggle with both. Finding the right mix of treatments can be life-saving for the person and set them up for success in recovery.

The Last Resort provides a safe, supportive environment for men in a retreat-like setting. We provide dual diagnosis examination and treatment for those in need. Our professional programs support executives with addiction and help others find their journey of healing wherever they are. Call us to find out more: 512-750-6750.