Substance Abuse and Mental Illness

Addiction to substances continues to impact families across the country and the world. Substance abuse not only impacts the individual using drugs or alcohol, it effects the entire family. Untreated substance abuse can result in health, financial, legal, social and housing issues. It can be overlooked that the abuse of drugs and alcohol often occurs alongside mental health concerns.

Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders

Comorbidity occurs when two or more chronic conditions occur simultaneously or directly following the either. Substance use and mental health disorders occur together in almost half of the individuals diagnosed with either. Certain mental health concerns, including anxiety disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or mood disorders such as depression have high co-occurrence with substance use than other mental health disorders.

Why These Often Occur Together

There are many reasons why these two issues are often co-occurring. It is impossible to decide causality and try to understand which concern was first. Sometimes substance use is a way to self-medicate, attempting to handle mood or anxiety using drugs or alcohol without medical assistance.
With both substance abuse and mental illnesses, similar parts of the brain, in charge of executive functioning, those impacting decision making, impulse control, and rewards, are impacted. Alcohol or drug dependence, as well as mental health disorders are sometimes shown to be genetic.

Treatment Options

In cases of co-occurring disorders, it is imperative to treat both concerns simultaneously. Integrated treatment helps the individual to manage the symptoms caused by the illness without using or abusing drugs or alcohol. Focusing on only one area can exacerbate symptoms of the other. Comprehensive treatment with service providers that recognize the complexity of substance use, along with knowledge about trauma, mental illness and other concerns that also impact many using substances to lead to lifelong change.

Treatment options that have shown to be effective with co-occurring disorders include medical assisted detox, individual, group and family therapy, and aftercare support. Treatment interventions that include skill building and support have proven to be most effective at encouraging recovery. Social supports from those who understand the struggles can help to reduce feelings of isolation and builds a sense of hope through positive peer relationships. Treatment should include family participation. For instance, family therapy can help the other family members to understand drug and alcohol use, any mental health disorders that are occurring, as well as how to best support their family member in their journey towards sobriety. 

The Decision to Seek Help

Substance use impacts families regardless of economic status, social group, or ethnicity. With the harsh consequences often experienced due to untreated alcohol or drug use and mental illness, it is important to recognize that help is available and that sobriety is within grasp. Music City Interventions offers a confidential, professional, and caring approach to intervention services for families and their loved ones affected by addiction or alcoholism in Nashville or across the US. Our goal in alcohol and drug addiction treatment is to discreetly and effectively work with our clients through loving confrontation and intervention for the suffering addict. Reach out to us today.