Mental Illness and Addiction Treatment

Mental illness is still underdiagnosed when coupled with substance abuse and addiction, and consequently, we are in dire need of more treatment centers. Although people are becoming more and more aware of the effects of mental illnesses, there is still a serious stigma around mental health. Often, people who reveal that they are suffering from a mental illness are told to simply ‘suck it up’ and get on with their lives. This kind of attitude can be very detrimental for people suffering from a dual diagnosis. Here’s why you can’t just snap out of it.

How Severe is Mental Illness?

A good way to help the public understand the severity of mental illness is to compare it to physical illnesses. Think of it this way: no one would tell a person with a broken leg to just snap out of it when they ask for help, or that they are just looking for attention. No one would tell this person not to take pain medication, or that their suffering is all in their mind. Mental illness is exactly the same. A person who is suffering from clinical depression, for example, cannot just think happy thoughts and get over their depression; it simply does not work like that. Mental illnesses are no less debilitating than physical illnesses, and in some instances require the same level of treatment.

Mental Illness and Addiction

Addiction is like any other mental health disorder, in the sense that it changes a person’s brain chemistry and can have serious negative side effects. Oftentimes, mental illness is the root cause of a drug or alcohol abuse problem, or, alternatively, addiction can result in mental illness such as depression or anxiety. Regardless of how either issue was caused, when a dual-diagnosis is recognized, both problems need to be treated as a unit. Unfortunately, this often does not happen. Many rehabilitation centers treat addiction as a separate problem and encourage patients to seek help for their mental illness in different ways. Although treatment centers are becoming more popular, many people still see addiction and mental health as separate. This can have very damaging effects, and often results in unsuccessful treatment. If only one problem is treated rehabilitation often fails, as patients tend to relapse if only their substance abuse problem treated. Patients who don’t receive help for their mental illness tend to self-medicate using drugs, which then results in more substance abuse problems and a vicious cycle ensues.

Recognize and Sympathize Mental Illness Sufferers

A lot of the time people are not very sympathetic towards drug addicts, saying that they brought it on themselves and that their addiction is their own fault. However, oftentimes this is not the case, and one needs to be especially understanding towards sufferers as they have to battle against two mental illnesses: addiction and an emotional disorder. Remember, neither of these issues is the sufferer’s fault. Just like you wouldn’t blame someone for getting cancer, you cannot blame someone for being depressed and using drugs to deal with their depression.