It’s not uncommon for people battling addiction to be living with another type of disorder. Mental health and eating disorders are both commonly seen in people who are in treatment for drug and/or alcohol addiction. When a person is diagnosed with addiction at the same time an eating or mental health disorder, this is called co-occurrence or dual diagnosis.

How common are mental health and addiction dual diagnoses?

According a report by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the connection between mental illness and substance abuse/addiction is undeniable. Those who are receiving treatment for mental health disorders are responsible for:

  • 38 percent of alcohol consumption
  • 44 percent of cocaine consumption
  • 40 percent of cigarette consumption

In the same report, it was stated that people who were diagnosed with a mental health disorder at one point in their life or another are responsible for:

  • 69 percent of alcohol consumption
  • 84 percent of cocaine consumption
  • 68 percent of cigarette consumption

Now, it’s also true that the consumption or abuse of drugs/alcohol don’t necessarily lead to addiction, so let’s take a look at the distinction between abuse and addiction.

Drug or alcohol abuse

An individual is diagnosed with drug or alcohol abuse if their habits lead to an interference in one’s daily life – school, work, relationships, etc. – and creates dangerous situations for themselves and others.

An individual could also be diagnosed with drug or alcohol abuse if their habits lead to a mental health disorder or make an existing one worse.

Drug or alcohol addiction

Substance addiction puts an individual in a much more serious situation than substance abuse does. Often times, a person tries to stop using drugs alcohol to no avail. In severe cases, an individual might have a physiological dependence on their substance of “choice.” In these cases, they usually develop a tolerance which means they have to use more of a substance in order for it to take effect.

Once a person is physiologically addicted to a substance, they may experience symptoms of withdrawal (nausea, tremors, anxiety, depression, etc.) during periods when they are not using. In order to avoid these feelings, they continue their vicious cycle of substance abuse.

Difficulty in diagnosis

When a person exhibits signs of both mental illness and drug addiction/abuse, diagnosis and treatment might be hard to define. This is because symptoms of mental illness can be hidden behind substance use and vice versa. Often times, people with mental illness don’t see their substance use as connected to their mental state. Therefore, they don’t believe there are more than one issue that needs to be address, if there even is one at all.

Other times, people with mental health issues use substances as a coping mechanism. Depending on the severity of their symptoms and their drug of “choice,” it may be unclear to even the people closest to them that they have an addiction OR mental health problem.

Although that may be the case, prolonged use of drugs without a prescription can worsen mental health issues or cause new ones to develop

Illicit drug/alcohol use and mental health issues

It’s understandable why people with mental health issues do use drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism: they simply want something that makes them feel better – people with anxiety may want to feel at ease, people with depression may want to feel social, people with psychoses may want something that makes them feel like they are back to a baseline.

The issue, however, with using illicit drugs and/or alcohol concurrently with a mental health issue is that drugs, unless provided under the supervision of a healthcare professional, don’t usually repair the mind. Illicit drugs and/or alcohol use typically has an antithetical effect and makes mental health issues worse.

When a person becomes enveloped in their addiction, they prevent themselves from learning healthy coping mechanisms, close themselves off from healthy relationships, and effectively make them farther away from mental wellness than ever.

Dual diagnosis and treatment

Because mental health and addiction issues are so frequently diagnosed together, it’s important to seek treatment that can help with both at the same time. The type of treatment that should be sought out is called Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment.

Many mental health and drug treatment facilities recognize that dual diagnoses must be treated concurrently and carefully. If you or someone you love is seeking professional help with their dial diagnosis, be sure to research mental health facilities that offer a detox program OR a detox facility that also has mental health professionals on staff.

Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment in Florida at Intrepid Recovery

Intrepid Recovery understands that many people who walk through our doors need proper mental health care in order to recover from their addiction and continue to live a life of stability. Residents have 24-hour nursing care available to them as well as 40-hour/week clinical hours of group and individual therapies.

Once an individual has left our program, they are welcome to take advantage of our out-patient services so that they always have the support they need. The road to recovery is rocky and not always clear, but with the proper tools anyone can do it! Intrepid Recovery helps graduates establish a plan whether they are continuing treatment locally or moving outside the state of Florida. We ensure that everyone who leaves Intrepid Recovery has the confidence and tools that they need to succeed.

Would you like to get more information about the services that Intrepid Recovery offers for addiction treatment in Florida? Please call our 24/7 helpline. You don’t have to be ready you just have to talk – about your struggles or your options for treatment. The helpline is 100% free and confidential.

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