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Importance of Mental Health Treatment

According to the US National Library of Medicine [1], all patients suffering from severe and persistent mental illness require rehabilitation. The goal of mental rehab is to help disabled individuals to develop the emotional, social, and intellectual skills needed to live, learn and work in the community with the least amount of professional support.

It is not uncommon for mental illness to walk hand in hand with addiction. While not necessarily a guaranteed circle of cause and effect, many individuals facing challenges like anxiety, OCD, PTSD, depression, or bipolar disorder turn to drugs to cope with symptoms or make daily life bearable. Those suffering from mental health issues often feel they have limited resources for help available to them, and yet, their problems stand in the way of everyday life.

Causes of Mental Health Issues

Mental health issues can be induced by several factors, either alone or in combination. Causes of mental health issues can originate from underlying genetic causes or conditions in a person’s environment.

Some of the most likely causes of mental health disorders are the following:

  • Genetic traits. Mental health conditions can be handed down through families. This means that a person has a higher risk of inheriting a specific mental health condition if that risk is present in other family members. But, it does not mean that just because someone in your family has the trait, you will surely get it. A mental health specialist can evaluate and diagnose these types of conditions. If you suspect that you may have inherited a mental health disorder, let your doctor know.
  • Exposure In Utero. Being exposed to negative influences before birth, such as drugs, alcohol, or other toxic substances, can affect an infant’s future mental health. Some infants are born with health problems due to these toxins, while others may seem fine at birth and develop problems later in life.
  • Brain chemistry. Many mental illnesses can be discovered in a patient’s individual brain chemistry. Disorders such as depression and anxiety can be triggered by biochemical changes in the brain or hormonal imbalances throughout a person’s lifetime.
  • Negative stress from life events. Events that occur during a person’s lifetime, such as the death of a close relative or friend, financial problems, or emotional or physical abuse, can trigger mental health problems. Many times, a life event may worsen other factors that are already present to cause mental illness.

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Mental Health Disorders Connected to Addiction

Attention-deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is a condition that affects the brain and behaviors that make it difficult for a person to pay attention and control impulsive behaviors. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, ADHD is more common in males than females and is affecting an estimated 15 million individuals in America.  

People with ADHD may be more inclined to abuse substances as a way to cope with their symptoms. Many people are prescribed stimulants to manage their ADHD, which can be habit-forming and lead to a toxic pattern of substance abuse.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder (formerly called manic-depressive illness or manic depression) is a mental disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.

About half of people with bipolar disorder also cope with addiction. As with any other condition, it can be tempting to self-medicate. However, alcohol and drugs provide a source of temporary relief from emotional states and manic episodes for people with bipolar.

Borderline Personality Disorder

BPD is a mental health disorder that affects the way you feel and thinks about yourself and others. Therefore, causing problems in everyday life. It includes self-image issues, difficulty handling emotions and behavior, and a series of unstable relationships.

Studies have shown that addiction and BPD often occur together. Over two-thirds of people with BPD have turned toward substance abuse at some point in their lives.

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Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. It’s a serious mental health condition that requires understanding and medical care. Above all, if left untreated, depression can be devastating. Also, to be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.

An estimated one in 10 adults in the United States has reported suffering from depression. Many people diagnosed with depression try to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. This often makes the problem worse. The crash after the high can be devastating for those with a pre-existing depressive condition.

Eating Disorders

An eating disorder is a serious mental disorder characterized by eating, exercise, and body weight or shapes becoming an unhealthy preoccupation of someone’s life.

Eating disorders often stem from strong feelings of inferiority. Therefore, drugs that suppress appetite are especially common among people with these disorders.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

The most prevalent mental condition in the U.S. GAD affects 18 percent of the adult population. People who experience GAD may be more likely to misuse alcohol and drugs to control their symptoms. People may also misuse benzodiazepines, which are highly addictive prescription medications used to treat anxiety disorders.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

OCD is a chronic, common mental health disorder that affects people of all ages and walks of life. In this case, it happens when a person gets caught in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions. 

People with OCD often suffer from anxiety and depression as a result of their involuntary behavior, which can lead to substance abuse.

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD is a mental health problem that some people develop after extremely traumatic events, such as combat, crime, an accident or natural disaster, or even sexual assault.  

When a person develops PTSD their brain produces fewer endorphins than a healthy brain, making them more likely to turn toward alcohol or drugs to feel happy. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, nearly 75 percent of soldiers and veterans who experience a traumatic or violent event during combat report repetitive alcohol abuse.

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It is a chronic and severe mental disorder affecting 20 million people worldwide. It affects the persons thinking, perception, emotions, language, sense of self, and behavior. Common experiences include hallucinations (hearing voices or seeing things that are not there) and delusions (fixed, false beliefs.

Diagnosing schizophrenia alongside an addiction can be difficult because both conditions share the same effects. When a person has schizophrenia and uses substances as a way to self-medicate their condition, they risk putting their health further at risk.

Can Alcohol Cause Anxiety Attacks?

An anxiety attack is an intense and debilitating stress response that can cause physical and psychological symptoms. The exact cause of anxiety attacks is unknown. However, there is a direct overlap between the neurotransmitters affected by alcohol and those involved in anxiety.

Serotonin, dopamine and GABA all play a major role in mood regulation, which puts them at the center of how stress works. Individuals with depression and anxiety have lower levels of these chemicals. However, alcohol is known to depress or otherwise disrupt these same neurotransmitters. This may cause an already negative situation to go from bad to worse. Thus, these individuals are more susceptible to stress, but they feel it more acutely and more strongly, increasing the likelihood of developing a chronic anxiety disorder. This double trouble is why many believe that alcohol can cause anxiety attacks.

When mental illnesses and abuse disorders co-exist with someone, professionals define this as comorbidity. Although anxiety and addiction can co-occur, it is hard to pinpoint which disorder exactly developed first. Professionals have 3 instances of comorbidity:

  • Drugs of abuse can cause users to have symptoms of or develop mental illness
  • Mental illness can cause drug abuse
  • Both disorders can be caused by underlying factors such as trauma, brain deficits, and genetic vulnerabilities

Regardless of which symptoms appeared or manifested first, it is very important to have both mental illness and drug abuse/addiction treated together in order to reduce the chance of relapse.

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Anxiety and Withdrawal

Anxiety is the most commonly experienced withdrawal symptom, especially with highly addictive substances. When heavy users of either drugs or alcohol decide to detox, there are some uncomfortable side effects to be expected.

The brain becomes used to a constant supply of substances and builds tolerance in order to maintain the high. However, once the demand isn’t met by supply, the brain creates surges of adrenaline to cope. Thus producing withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms can be physical or mental. The severity of the case also depends on the person and the substances abused. Anxiety is the most common emotional withdrawal felt in the detox of cannabis, alcohol, cocaine, and ecstasy.

Those who are diagnosed or experiencing anxiety are more likely to experience anxiety and panic during drug and alcohol detox and are at higher risk for relapse.

Self Harm & Addiction

It is estimated that over 8% of people who follow through with self-harm also abuse drugs, but some consider self-harm a form of addiction in itself. Similar to some forms of substance abuse, self-harm is often used as a response to feelings of sadness or depression. By causing an injury, a cut or burn could produce feelings of relief and even a rush of pain-relieving endorphins. However, this immediate relief will likely be followed by feelings of shame and guilt.

The highs and lows associated with self-harm lend themselves to a cycle of negative feelings, self-injury, relief, and more negative feelings. The obsession with cutting or using other self-harm methods is not much different from the use of drugs. On the flip side, drugs or alcohol can be considered a form of self-harm.

Primary Mental Health Treatment with Secondary Addiction Treatment

A thorough mental health analysis identifies opportunities for treatment. Meeting with mental health counselors and medical care providers means access to behavioral therapy and medication treatment. Proper treatment leads to change for better, healthier living.

Take control of your life today. Our team at We Level Up Florida can help. Our primary mental health treatment coupled with chemical dependence therapy is designed to assist those who struggle with a secondary substance use disorder.

We provide utmost care with state-of-the-art primary mental health rehab, with doctors and medical staff available 24/7 for life-changing and lasting recovery. We provide an enhanced opportunity to return to a fulfilling and productive life.

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[1] US National Library of Medicine –