Substance Abuse and Mental Illness

Mental illness and substance abuse often go hand-in-hand, which can create challenges in treating both successfully. It is im

Apr 2

Mental illness and substance abuse often go hand-in-hand, which can create challenges in treating both successfully. It is important for patients dealing with both issues to get an accurate dual diagnosis, in order to ensure the best possible treatment on both fronts. At Pasadena Recovery Center, we understand the intricacies and complexities of a dual diagnosis, which is why we offer a specialized inpatient treatment program for patients that fall into this category.

Prevalence of a Dual Diagnosis

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, studies have found a significant percentage (around 50 percent) of individuals with a severe mental illness also have a substance abuse problem. The Journal of the American Medical Association also reported that 37 percent of alcohol abusers and 53 percent of drug abusers also have a serious mental illness. The problem is prevalent, which is why treatment programs that target a dual diagnosis are so important.

Cause and Effect

While it is relatively easy to see a connection between substance abuse and mental illness, it is much more difficult to assign a cause and effect to the trend. For many that receive a dual diagnosis, the mental illness preceded the substance abuse. These individuals have done what is called “self-medicate,” which is to try to manage symptoms of mental illness with use of drugs or alcohol.

On the other hand, substance abuse can increase the risk for a mental illness or make a current condition worse. Substance abuse may trigger the onset of symptoms of mental illness, such as paranoia or depression. In some cases, poor decisions or traumatic events that occur while a person is under the influence of a substance can lead to a mental disorder like anxiety or post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).

Complications and Challenges

No matter how or why the dual diagnosis occurred, it can be challenging to treat both conditions successfully. For many patients, substance abuse must be addressed first, before treatment for mental illness can begin. Without this sequence, patients may have difficulty sticking with a medication regimen or treatment program to effectively deal with their mental disorder.

While treatment of a dual diagnosis is complex, it is not impossible. At Pasadena Recovery Center, we offer an inpatient program that combines medication maintenance, education about mental illness and the 12-steps of sobriety. With individual and group therapy and counseling, we can help you overcome your substance abuse while learning to cope successfully with your mental illness. To learn more about our dual diagnosis program, contact Pasadena Recovery Center at 866-663-3030.

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