Those who struggle with substance abuse are more likely to also have mental health conditions at the same time, known as a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder. It can be difficult to determine which of the two disorders causes the other, but it is clear that for many people, they go together.
Reasons for Co-occurring Disorders
There are various theories about why mental illness and substance abuse so often co-occur, and the truth is, there probably is not only one explanation. Each person’s reasons for addictive behavior and mental health problems are as individual as the person is, but there are some general reasons why these two types of disorders co-occur so often.
One reason may be that those with mental illnesses who are not getting any treatment often use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate and try to overcome or escape their mental health conditions. Someone who is bipolar, for example, may take drugs that will bring him or her down from a manic phase or up from a depressive one.
Another theory is that long-term drug use can alter brain chemistry for some users and cause mental health conditions like depression or anxiety. Chronic use of marijuana has led to schizophrenia in some users, for instance, and some meth users have had episodes of psychosis.
The roles of genetics and environment in both substance abuse and mental illness are also important to consider. There is much that treatment professionals and researchers still have to learn about genetics and how they impact both substance abuse and mental illness. There may be genetic factors that influence both.
Treatment of Co-occurring Disorders
When getting treatment for substance abuse in a Colorado drug rehab, mental health issues often need to be addressed in order for treatment to be effective. It is important to treat both parts of a co-occurring disorder at the same time.
Treating just substance abuse leaves addicts vulnerable to relapse if they used the substance to self-medicate their mental illness, and treating just the mental illness will likely not have much of an impact if the patient is inebriated during therapy. Drugs used to treat mental illness can also interact with substances being used in dangerous ways, or the use of other drugs or alcohol can interfere with the effectiveness of psychotropic medications.
When co-occuring disorders are treated correctly, the person being treated will be stabilized and be able to think clearly for what may be the first time in a long time. There are many variables to work through when treating co-occurring disorders, including adjustments to medications as detox occurs and managing mental health symptoms that may be exacerbated during the detox process.
Recovery Village at Palmer Lake is a Colorado drug rehab facility with experience in treating co-occurring disorders effectively. It is possible to get these complex and debilitating conditions under control and move forward with improved functioning into a life of recovery from both conditions. Contact us today to discuss your treatment options!