Drug Addicts and Mental Illness

“Dual diagnosis” is a term used to describe the presence of both a mental disorder and an addiction to drugs. In many cases, it is difficult to determine which came first. Both conditions are brain diseases that can influence the response of the other. If you or someone you care about has a diagnosed mental disease, that doesn’t mean that drug addiction is inevitable; likewise, a drug addict is not destined for some type of mental disease.

Disorders Associated With Chronic Drug Abuse

According to Mental Health America (MHA), 37 percent of alcohol abusers and 53 percent of drug abusers present with at least one type of mental illness. In all mental illness diagnoses, 29 percent are drug or alcohol abusers. Some of the most common mental problems associated with dual diagnosis include:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Manic depression
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Antisocial personality disorder

Statistics from MHA indicate that if you have antisocial personality disorder, you have a 15.5 percent increased risk for developing substance abuse over people with no mental disease. Schizophrenia presents a 10.1 percent increased risk.

The Effects of Drug Abuse on Mental Illness

Some people take drugs to help alleviate the symptoms of mental disorders, such as using marijuana to combat the depression and social withdrawal associated with schizophrenia or to deal with depression. On the other hand, taking drugs, such as Ecstasy, can lead to depression and anxiety as it produces long-term serotonin deficits in the brain.

How Does Treatment Begin?

The two conditions are so closely intertwined that it requires the expertise of mental health professionals and drug addiction specialists working together to determine the best approach for recovery. The first step is obtaining an accurate diagnosis to determine if both addiction and mental disease are present. Simultaneous evaluation and treatment includes a complete medical history and physical examination, along with a mental health and psychological exam. In most cases, it is necessary for the patient to go through the detoxification process before a definitive diagnosis regarding the presence of a mental disease can be made. Detox from most drug substances requires medical monitoring to manage the withdrawal symptoms.

Where Does Treatment Begin?

Treatment for a dual diagnosis of mental illness and drug addiction begins in a facility that provides a comprehensive program of the following:

  • Medical and psychological management
  • Individual¬† and group therapy sessions
  • Family participation
  • A program that can be tailored to your specific needs
  • Activities that promote healing for the whole person
  • Follow-up care through a support system to reduce the chances for relapse
  • Inpatient and outpatient services

Find a Top Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center

If you suspect the presence of mental disease and drug abuse in yourself or someone you care about, you need to get help immediately. The sooner you get help, the better your chances for a good outcome through recovery. Give us a call today and let us help you take the first step. We have a full staff available to answer your questions and establish a plan for your individualized care.