Is There a Connection Between Mental Health and Substance Abuse?

How are Mental Health and Addiction Connected?

Both mental health disorders and substance abuse issues have a variety of causes. In recent years, however, studies have shown that there is a strong connection between the two.

While it is entirely possible to struggle with one without the other, it is important to understand how mental health and substance abuse are connected in order to identify the common signs and properly address your needs.

The Connection Between Two Illnesses

First off, as we began to understand how these two issues are commonly linked, it’s essential to note that neither issue directly causes the other. Instead, each respective illness can cause a person to experience emotions and struggles that can lead to developing the second disorder. This can occur for several reasons.

People Self-Medicate

Perhaps the most common factor connecting addiction and mental health disorders is the act of self-medicating. In cases such as these, a person struggles with drugs or alcohol in an effort to cope with the emotions caused by their mental health issue. On the other hand, someone who is self-medicating with substances in order to cope with pain from an injury or trauma may develop a mental health disorder as drugs or alcohol alter the chemistry of their brain.

For example, someone struggling with anxiety may drink often since they believe alcohol calms their faces. In other cases, someone who abuses opioids may develop bouts of depression the longer they use the drug.

Genetic Predisposition

While no one is guaranteed to struggle with addiction or mental health issues even if a family has in the past, studies have found that those whose families have a history of either one of these disorders are often more likely to experience them themselves.

If someone is predisposed to substance abuse and struggles with it in their lifetime, they may also find themselves struggling with mental health issues since the neurotransmitters in their brains are already affected.

Unresolved Trauma

Any time a person, young or old, experiences trauma, they may develop post-traumatic stress disorder — and those struggling with PTSD are at a much higher risk of also developing a substance abuse disorder. Whether their trauma is violence, sexual abuse, or otherwise, people can turn to drugs or alcohol in an effort to cope with their emotions.

Common Co-Occurring Disorders

When a person struggles with both a mental illness and substance abuse, the two are referred to as co-occurring disorders. While a person can experience any two disorders together, there are some mental health issues and addictions that tend to be more commonly paired.

These can include:

In order to identify if someone is experiencing co-occurring disorders, it’s essential for them to be evaluated by the right therapist and receive dual diagnosis treatment if necessary.

What is Dual Diagnosis?

This relatively new form of therapy takes the best treatment modalities from mental health treatment and addiction treatment in order to treat both issues simultaneously.

By addressing both your mental health and substance addiction, you can understand the connection between your two illnesses as well as their underlying causes in order to best set yourself up for a healthier, happier future.

Addiction and Mental Health Treatment in Knoxville

When you’re struggling with addiction, mental health issues, or both, turn to Tennessee Wellness Center for help. We recognize the intrinsic relationship between mental health and addiction, which is why we employ a whole-person approach to wellness. Our family of addiction specialists is dedicated to providing you with the support and tools you need to succeed.

To learn more, contact us today!