mental-illness-addiction-stevenson-waplak

Mental Illness and Addiction: The Importance of Dual Treatment

For many addiction sufferers, mental illness is a daily reality that impacts their journey towards recovery. The use of substances in one’s life to cope with moodiness, anxiousness, sleepiness, social anxiety (to name a few reasons) can also lead to the risk of dependency on substances. It is a classic short-term versus long-term decision making challenge, substance use may alleviate unwanted immediate stresses, but the fix is only temporarily, needs to be repeated over and over again, risking dependency as an additional life stressor.

So what happens when the person seeks treatment? The role of substance use in one’s overall pattern of life needs to be considered for effective treatment. Getting to the root cause is critical on the road to recovery. Here are a few reasons dual treatment is beneficial and even necessary.

For many addiction sufferers, mental illness is a daily reality that impacts their recovery. Self-medication is one of the more common reasons people will become addicted to a substance. The high alleviates symptoms of mental illness but only temporarily, leaving the person wanting to use again. The abuse will also worsen the symptoms, solidifying the dependency.

So what happens when the person seeks treatment? If self-medication is the cause of the addiction, you can’t treat the addiction and not the illness. Getting to the root cause is critical on the road to recovery. Here are a few reasons dual treatment is beneficial and even necessary.

Failure to Treat Mental Illness Can Lead Back to Addiction

If a person is suffering from an addiction as well as a mental illness, there is a high possibility that the addiction is the result of self-medication for an untreated illness. If the addiction is treated by itself, the same process of self-medication and addiction will most likely land the person back in rehab.

An untreated mental illness will continue to affect the person’s life, and their symptoms will likely get worse. It becomes too easy for them to slip back into old habits in an attempt to control those worsening symptoms which in turn will reignite the addiction.

Addiction Can Cause Mental Illness

For some people, the mental illness appears after an addiction is already established. The effect many substances have on the brain can create the chemical imbalance necessary to trigger a mental illness diagnosis.

The sudden onset can be very difficult to cope with, possibly tempting the person to relapse in order to feel good again. Not only do they need to treat the addiction, but it is also imperative that they learn to deal with the symptoms of mental illness in a healthy, positive way.

A Treatment Can Only Be So Effective if Treating Half the Problem

The addiction may seem to be the problem at hand but imagine how bad the mental illness must be for someone to turn to substance abuse. The mental illness is the root cause of their pain and difficulty and should not be treated as a separate issue.

The addiction would not exist if not for the mental illness and sometimes vice versa. Focusing on only half the problem leaves the possibility of relapse wide open. A dual treatment for both the addiction that aggravates the mental illness and the mental illness that causes the addiction is vital for a full recovery.

Mental illness and addiction often come hand in hand. Though mental illness is more commonly the cause of addiction, the opposite can also be true. Regardless, it is critical to treat the two conditions as one and prepare a plan that will aid both the addiction and the mental illness. If someone you know is struggling to recovery from both an addiction and a mental illness, the last thing you want to see is them falling back into old habits. The best way to prevent it is to ensure that your loved one receives a dual treatment.

Image via Pixabay by johnhain

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *