Mental Health and Addiction

How Mental Health Affects Addiction

Forty-four million Americans (which covers approximately 18 percent of the adult population) have experienced mental illness, such as anxiety, depression, etc. at some point in their lives. Additionally, 21 million adults have a substance use disorder. While these two conditions do not have to overlap, they often do as almost 8 million Americans live with a substance use disorder as well as a mental illness, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. If you or your loved one is living with a mental health condition as well as a substance use disorder, there are treatment plans that will address both conditions concurrently, helping you identify underlying issues and find healthy solutions for a better life.

Coping with a Dual Diagnosis

When a person is said to have a dual diagnosis, the individual has been diagnosed with a substance use disorder as well as a behavioral disorder or mental illness (co-occurring conditions), according to the Addiction Center. Your health can greatly impact addiction; therefore, it is essential for those living with a dual diagnosis to work with a therapist to create an integrated treatment plan. Without a comprehensive treatment plan to address both conditions, many people will not be able to overcome these co-occurring struggles.

How Mental Health Affects Substance Abuse

If you have a psychological condition along with an alcohol or drug use problem, then you may experience symptoms that can greatly interrupt your everyday life and ability to function normally. Additionally, if you have an untreated psychological condition, then this will only allow the substance use issue to worsen as it may lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms. For example, out of every 10 veterans, two of them seek treatment for substance abuse and also have PTSD, according to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Individuals living with a mental illness consume 38% of alcohol and 44% of cocaine in the U.S, according to the National Alliance for Mental Illness. As the severity of the mental condition increases so will the likelihood of substance use.

How a Substance Use Disorder Affects Mental Illness

Studies show that a substance use disorder increases the risk of mental illness. For example, 50 percent of individuals living with schizophrenia have a history of poor and dangerous substance use. Depending on the substance of use, such as specific drug choice, your mental state can be a result of frequent drug use. Although it can be very difficult to properly identify which condition occurred first, it is clear that there is a strong correlation between the two conditions.

Why Substance Use Is a Slippery Slope

While substance use can be a relaxing or exhilarating socializing element or a form of personal recreation, it can be used as escapism, which can have detrimental results. If you are someone who is living with a mental illness, your symptoms may leave you wanting to escape and cope with your challenges in an unhealthy way, such as binge drinking or consumption of illegal or legal drugs. With repetition, these actions can lead to serious abuse.

Solutions for Addressing Co-Occurring Conditions

Never sweep co-occurring conditions under the rug. For those experiencing this, psychotherapy is an imperative part of the process towards healing and coping without the use of substances. It is important to find ways to address and change addictive behaviors. For example, motivational interviewing can help you better understand living a healthy lifestyle and how you can create goals to align with your values. Another way to address having a dual diagnosis is to check into a rehabilitation center where you can receive services and care 24/7. While some might be tempted to treat one condition before addressing the other, it is advised to seek treatment for both conditions simultaneously. 


If you or a loved one is seeking help and treatment for a dual diagnosis, then you should contact Music City Interventions. They have a variety of treatment approaches and have been recognized as the city’s leading treatment and intervention specialist. Over the years, they have supported many families and individuals break the painful cycle of addition and move towards healing. Their framework allows each individual to receive the services and care that will address that specific person instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.