How Addiction and Mental Illness Influence One Another

 In Addiction, Mental Health

If you’re suffering from mental illness, you are more prone to addiction. Also, if you’re suffering from addiction, you are more prone to mental illness. In order to succeed in recovery, it is crucial for both disorders to be treated. The two are thought to be closely linked, and this is what you need to know about the connection between addiction and mental illness:

How Mental Illness Can Trigger Addiction

Individuals who suffer from mental illness are more prone to develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol for several reasons. There are several reasons why people who struggle with mental illness are more prone to develop a substance abuse problem, including:

1. Self-Medication Is Prevalent Among People With Mental Illness

Most of the commonly-abused drugs cause a temporary feeling of euphoria, and individuals who suffer from a mental illness may be more inclined to seek out this temporary mood improvement. However, if you are suffering from a mental illness and use drugs, you may not even be aware that you are self-medicating. In fact, many people who suffer from a mental illness are unaware that they even have one. The drugs are simply an escape from their emotions.

This is why it is so important to tend to our mental health. Be aware of the signs of mental illness so you are able to recognize when you may need help. Simply using harmful substances as a tool or temporary cure has dangerous long-term effects.

2. Some Mental Illnesses Can Cause Risk-Taking Behavior

Individuals who suffer from certain mental conditions are more likely to engage in risky behavior that involves drug use. This includes bipolar disorder, depression, and schizophrenia. These conditions increase the chances of impulsivity that can result in dangerous life-changing consequences. Not only does this make individuals with these conditions more likely to abuse drugs, but it can even make people who suffer from them abuse drugs in a manner that is more physically harmful, as they have low regard for how their self-destructive behavior will affect them.

3. Some Conditions Make Sufferers Especially Prone To Drug Abuse

While there are quite a few examples of conditions that are especially likely to be associated with drug addiction, some of the most common conditions to be associated with mental illness are bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorders, and schizophrenia. Here’s what you need to know about each condition and how it can make someone more prone to drug abuse:

  • -Schizophrenia causes especially severe symptoms, and sometimes drugs and alcohol provide a temporary escape for individuals who suffer from this disorder.
  • -People who suffer from anxiety are more likely to abuse alcohol.
  • -People who suffer from bipolar disorder are also more prone to alcohol addiction in an attempt to “smooth out” mood swings. However, individuals with bipolar disorder often abuse other substances as well, especially in the manic phase of the condition
  • -Individuals with depression often self-medicate with various substances, and this is especially common in women who have a drug addiction.

How Addiction Can Trigger Mental Illness

Being addicted to a substance can put your mental health in jeopardy. Here’s why this can be the case:

1. Some Drugs Can Cause Psychiatric Problems

Some drugs directly affect the neurotransmitters in ways that can mimic naturally occurring psychiatric problems. In fact, some drugs of abuse can even cause changes in brain chemistry that closely mimic psychotic episodes. For example, crystal meth is associated with long-term sleep deprivation and dramatic increases in dopamine levels that can be mistaken for a naturally occurring psychotic episode.

Also, some drugs cause changes in neurochemistry that can appear similar to more commonplace mental illnesses, such as depression. For example, individuals who abuse opiates often develop a depressed mood due to changes in neurotransmitter levels.

Furthermore, withdrawal from drugs and alcohol can appear similar to mental illnesses. In addition, some people with a long-term addiction develop a syndrome caused post-acute withdrawal syndrome that is linked to various psychiatric disorders.

Research shows that drug and alcohol addiction often can cause mental illnesses to manifest earlier than they would otherwise. This is particularly likely to be true when drugs are abused during adolescence.

2. The Lifestyle Associated With Drug Addiction Can Lead To Mental Illness

Often, individuals who are suffering from drug addiction can become highly disorganized in their day to day life, and this can make some people more prone to mental illness. Individuals who suffer from drug addiction often live in environments that are similar to the environments of individuals who suffer from serious mental illnesses, and this can cause some people to develop traits of people with serious mental health problems.

Addiction also has the potential to lead to poor decision-making. This can result in the individuals being put in harmful situations that can end in serious consequences. For example, a person who drives under the influence or with someone who is under the influence could experience a crash that could leave them with post-traumatic stress disorder or depression.

Common Ground Between Mental Health And Substance Abuse Problems

Often, people who suffer from addiction or mental illness faced serious difficulties early on in their lives. Furthermore, there are genetic factors that can predispose an individual to both drug addiction and mental health problems. In truth, either disorder can arise first, but both disorders have an effect on the other.

How Do Mental Health And Substance Abuse Problems Interact When Both Are Present Simultaneously?

The interaction between addiction and mental illness is quite complex, but they both typically compound each other if both are present at the same time. Drug addiction makes mental illness more difficult to treat, and it can also worsen mental health issues that already exist. Furthermore, untreated mental illness is often a factor that makes pre-existing addictions to drugs or alcohol worse. When an individual is suffering from addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders, it is important for both conditions to be treated simultaneously in a dual-diagnosis treatment center for the most effective recovery.

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