Substance Addiction can be Related to Mental Disorder

Substance abuse has in the past been treated as a behavioral disorder, but contemporary research has shown that addiction is frequently paired with a mental disorder. Certain mental disorders, however, are more commonly associated with addiction then others: schizophrenia, bipolar, depression and attention deficit disorder (ADHD) have been observed to either trigger, or result from, substance abuse more frequently than other mental disorders. The reason for this is that the chemicals and the areas of the brain affected by these disorders are the same as those affected by substance abuse. When a mental disorder is left untreated an individual may resort to substance abuse, and substance abuse can lead to mental disorders like depression: they can interact in dangerous ways, and often overlap. There are a number of reasons that somebody may receive a dual diagnosis of addiction and a mental disorder: they may use alcohol to help ease the symptoms of depression, smoke tobacco to help reduce levels of anxiety, or use marijuana or heroin to combat stress. If you are unsure whether you or a loved one’s bad habits are related to a mental disorder, try to answer the following questions.

What is your family history?
It may be useful to ask around your family about whether they or someone in their past struggled with substance abuse or a mental disorder. Although it is by no means definite, individuals whose families are prone to addiction are genetically more likely to develop these traits themselves. Genetically inherited habits will not determine your ability to deal with your mental health, and so always seek rehabilitation treatment before giving in to your addiction.

How do you react to intoxicating substances?
Although many people get a healthy buzz when drinking alcohol, some people become violent or even depressed. Think about how the substances you consume affect your mental health, and whether your reaction is damaging to your personal or social lives. On the other hand, is your mental health causing you to abuse substances? Many people become addicted to ‘self medicating’, or dealing with anger or unhappiness by consuming a substance. Having powerful reactions to substances, or using substances to deal with powerful feelings, are signs of a dual diagnosis.

How do you feel completely sober?
An effective test to see if substance abuse is linked to a mental disorder is to quit cold turkey and see how you feel. This may seem like common sense, but many people consume a substance weekly or daily, and their brain chemistry will be slightly altered because of this. After a few weeks the body and mind are rebalanced and individuals will know if their mental health was affected by their habits. For example, people who are depressed and consume alcohol may start to feel a bit happier, as alcohol is a depressant and long term use can contribute to unhappiness. Remaining sober for at least two weeks is the best way to tell whether there is a link between your mental health and your habits. If your mood is unchanged when sober that may be a sign that you are suffering from a mental disorder. If you are unable or unwilling to remain sober that is a good indication to contact a rehabilitation center.