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Mental Illness and Addiction: How They Work Hand in Hand

Mental health and substance abuse have proven to be strongly linked. Though neither necessarily causes the other, both seem to amplify the other. Dual diagnosis is a diagnosis of both mental illness and addiction—it is prevalent. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2018, about 9.2 million adults in the US experienced both mental illness and substance abuse.

Mental Illness and Addiction

Like the chicken and the egg, it’s uncertain which came first. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, approximately 50% of those who suffer from severe mental disorders are also affected by substance abuse. In contrast, 29% of all those diagnosed with a mental illness abuse either drugs or alcohol. Mental illness is more common in drug abusers than alcohol abusers, but common in both. These two issues are closely tied.

Those who are diagnosed with mental illness are more likely to deal with alcohol or drug abuse. This may be because these substances are often used to self-medicate symptoms of depression and anxiety—leading to a possibility of substance abuse.

Mental illness is caused by a myriad of complex factors including genetics, situation, environment, and so on. You may already be at risk for mental illness—if this is the case, substance abuse will likely push you over the edge. Substance abuse can also worsen symptoms of mental illness and trigger new symptoms. If you are on medication for mental illness, substances such as alcohol or drugs can interact with or negate these medications.

Signs of Mental Illness

Mental illness can manifest itself in many different ways. The most common forms are depression and anxiety. Symptoms of depression include feelings of hopelessness, loss of former interests, unintended weight loss or gain, loss of energy, trouble concentrating, and trouble sleeping. Signs of anxiety include excessive worry, feeling restless, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, headaches, muscle tension, accelerated heart rate, and irritability. Many of these symptoms may be aggravated or exaggerated by substance use.

Signs of Addiction

Substance abuse can impact a life in many ways—some more obvious than others. Some symptoms may include an inability to cut back on use, hiding or lying about use, going through prescription medications at an expedited rate, feeling ashamed about alcohol or drug use, sudden changes in behavior or substance use has impacted your relationships. Lastly, if your alcohol or drug use has ever gotten you into trouble with the law, it’s likely a problem.

At Ardu Recovery Center, we deal with dual diagnosis every day. We work to heal the mind and the body. Our goal is to help you regain and have the skills to maintain a physically and mentally healthy lifestyle. At our center, we have multiple therapeutic techniques, including group therapy, one on one therapy, yoga, meditation, and more. If you or a loved one is dealing with mental illness and addiction, find hope and healing at Ardu.