With a substantial increase of depression in youths, the U.S. is facing an alarming situation with co-occurring mental health issues and substance use disorders among teens and adults.
According to NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse), more than half of people who have drug problems also show symptoms of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), and antisocial personality disorder.
The Cycle of Addiction and Mental Health Issues
According to research mental illnesses and drugs often go together because of developmental changes in the brain. The affected part is the amygdala, a walnut-shaped part of the brain connected to all sorts of emotions, including fear and anxiety. Drugs and mental health disorders affect the same area of the brain.
While there is clearly a strong connection between mental problems and substance abuse disorders, it’s risk factors are still unknown. Long-term substance abuse can lead to short-term changes in the brain. This may trigger mental health issues. On the other hand, people with mental health problems are twice as likely to have drug abuse problems. These facts show that the connection between mental health and substance abuse is quite strong. The three most important aspects when evaluating behavioral health are:
- Biological factors
- Psychological factors
- Environmental factors (family, community, culture)
According to NIDA some of the drugs that can cause mental health problems are:
When a person feels disappointed, sad or stressed, they may look for a solution with drugs. For a brief moment, it makes the person feel good and forget their problems. Drugs affect chemicals in the brain, and the messages those chemicals are trying to send. This in turn changes the person’s mood, emotions, and behaviors. Some of these unwanted symptoms include anxiousness, depression, unstable mood, sleep problems, psychosis, panic attacks, delusions, and more.
Psychoactive drugs can cause ongoing psychological problems. Ecstasy gives a sense of euphoria by making serotonin, the happy hormone more available in the brain. Over time, this hormone may drop significantly and never restore to the same levels as before drug use. This lack of serotonin causes opposite symptom of euphoria – depression. There is also the link between cannabis and schizophrenia, which is higher if the person has a family history of the disease.
Many organizations, like SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), are making the effort to prevent mental and substance abuse disorders and increase the number of people that receive help. Unfortunately, the number of people that are struggling with co-occurring disorders (having symptoms of both substance abuse and mental condition) is increasing every year. According to SAMHSA’s National Survey on Behavioral Health, in 2015, 8.1 million people had both substance use disorder and another mental illness.
The State of Mental Health in America 2017 Report shows that 56 percent of American adults did not receive treatment for their mental illness. SAMHSA estimates that by 2020, mental health and substance use disorders will surpass all physical diseases as a major cause of disability worldwide.
Therapy Approach to Co-Occurring Disorders
The awareness of the connection between mental disorders and addiction has increased over the years. Therefore, mental health professionals pay more attention to behavioral health. Behavioral health is the patient’s psychological well-being and the behavioral choices he or she makes. It concerns the way mental health impacts the patient’s life. The three most important aspects when evaluating behavioral health are:
￼1. Mental Health Disorders
In this situation, the patient doesn’t get diagnosed with a certain mental condition but still gets treated for those symptoms that affect their health and addiction. If they don’t recieve treatment, the patient is at risk of developing a more severe mental illness.
2. Behavioral Addictions
Behavioral addictions are behaviors that the patient develops by repeating the same behavior too many times, to the point when it negatively impacts their life. These behaviors aren’t mental disorders. However, they are connected to drug and alcohol use.
3. General Health and Wellness
Eating healthy, exercise, nurturing regular sleeping habits, and leading a healthy social life are the basics of good mental health. If only one of these areas isn’t balanced or is lacking, it affects the person’s mental health and well-being. Many people use drugs and alcohol to recover the optimal balance. However, in the long-run, they realize that approach is wrong and doesn’t provide a solution for the uncomfortable feelings they are experiencing.
The right therapy approach should always treat the whole person, including the reason(s) that trigger addiction behaviors. Many times, these behavioral patterns are the starting point that lead to addiction.
Most patients aren’t aware of their behavioral problems. That’s why it’s important to find a mental health professional that deals with co-occurring disorders and knows how to effectively help with the treatment. Dual diagnosis is difficult to treat. If the person doesn’t enter a facility that treats both conditions, the chances of relapse are higher.
If you or your loved one started abusing drugs or alcohol as a result of a stressful situation or emotional difficulties, you should look for a treatment center that treats co-occurring disorders. Sometimes, drug abuse can cause psychological problems, so the best approach is to look for a treatment center that focuses on healing the whole person, rather than the addiction.
Treating the causes of addiction and the behavioral patterns that affect mental health will help you understand the reasons behind substance abuse. Changing previous behaviors reduces the risk of relapse and allows the person to lead a normal life.
Behavioral health and addiction treatment centers help the patients re-evaluate their past and current choices.
Therapeutic approaches include:
- Detox. In-house, medical detox is the safest choice for every patient. Many upscale facilities offer great care, and the price of therapy shouldn’t influence the patient’s choice of a treatment center. The prime concern is to get better.
- Medications. Depending on the mental health condition, patients are prescribed with some medications. The goal is relieving the symptoms of the mental issues and substance abuse disorder.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This therapy approach addresses “dysfunctional” thoughts, feeling, and behaviors. These thoughts and behaviors trigger the patient’s mental condition or addictive behavior. The goal of CBT is to identify any underlying issues and develop strategies to change them.
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). This therapy approach is common with patients that have a hard time controlling their emotions. It helps patients control their emotions and learn mindfulness skills to observe those emotions without judgment. These patients are often suicidal or self-harm.
- Motivational Interviewing (MI). It’s an approach that allows the patient to decide when it’s the right time to make the change.
- Holistic therapy. In holistic therapy, the patient concentrates on healing the whole person, body, mind, spirit, and emotions. It often uses alternative approaches, such as meditation and yoga.
There are dozens of therapy approaches for co-occurring conditions. Research shows that even positive memories can help in treating mental conditions. Some facilities use art, equine, and a combination of 12-Step, social support, individual, and group therapy as methods. But the #1 most important thing is getting help.
For more information please call our Addiction Treatment Helpline at (844) 439-4765. This is a Free and completely confidential call. We are available 24/7. In many cases, your health insurance company will cover 100% of the treatment cost. So please call now.