Mental health and well-being – Part 1: People addicted to drugs prone to mental disorders

Mental health and well-being – Part 1: People addicted to drugs prone to mental disorders

Any form of addiction is bad, be it to drugs or alcohol. Addiction can alter the functioning of the brain at multiple levels. The development of compulsive drug-seeking behavior can weaken their ability to control impulses even if they are aware of the negative consequences. A person dependent on substances can also suffer from other mood disorders or mental illnesses, also called co-occurring disorders. Addiction and substance abuse have a direct relationship and the presence of one can deteriorate the other.

Comorbidity of drug addiction and other mental illnesses

According to a report called Comorbidity by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), individuals diagnosed with mood or anxiety disorders are about twice as likely to suffer from a drug use disorder compared to general population. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million American adults. The complex relationship between addiction and mental illness makes it difficult to ascertain the definite nature of their interplay. Even if drug use disorders are observed with mental disorders, it does not indicate that one is responsible for the other. According to research, there is a definite comorbidity between addiction and mental health as specified below:

  • Drug abuse may conjure symptoms of another mental illness: Regular drug abuse can significantly increase the chance of psychosis among users. This is particularly visible in case of marijuana users.
  • Mental disorders can push an individual towards drug abuse: Patients with anxiety or depression may be tempted to use alcohol, tobacco and other drugs to temporarily deal with the symptoms. This may emerge from the need to self-medicate.

Some other factors that can contribute to comorbidity are:

  • Genetics: Genetic factors can make an individual susceptible to both mental disorders and addiction. Otherwise, it can increase the risk of the second disorder after the onset of the first one.
  • Environment: Environmental factors that can trigger stress or trauma due to various situations like physical or sexual abuse and early exposure to addictive substances can result in the development of addiction and other mental disorders later.
  • Developmental disorders: Exposure to traumatic experiences during childhood can have a significant impact later. Similarly, early exposure to drugs can rewire the brain that increases the chance of mental disorders. And early symptoms of a mental disorder can increase the risk of drug use later in life.
  • Various functions in the same brain regions: Many parts of the brain perform multiple functions that can concentrate in one region. For instance, regions linked to reward and stress can get affected by drug abuse and can display abnormalities in patients with specific mental illnesses.

Diagnosis and treatment of comorbid conditions

In view of the prevalence of comorbidity between drug use disorder and mental disorders, an extensive approach is required to identify and ascertain both the components. Individuals who are in need of treatment for either of the disorder should be analyzed for both and treated accordingly.

Various behavioral therapies and specific medications for opioid, alcohol and nicotine addiction can be used effectively for treating comorbid conditions. It is also important to consider the patient’s age, drug of abuse, medical history, etc. before proceeding with the line of treatment.

Scope of recovery

If you or a loved one is struggling with drug addiction or symptoms of mental disorders, it is imperative that you seek professional help. Contact the Colorado Mental Health Help to get help in locating the best mental health rehab in Colorado. One must not delay the treatment or the situation can get out of hand. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-899-5063 or chat online to connect to the best mental health treatment centers in Colorado.