Why Are Mental Illness and Addiction Co-Occurring Disorders?
Any mental or physical condition that persists for a long time can compromise the health of the individual and place him or her at risk of developing other problems. In the case of mental illness and addiction, these two conditions tend to attract one another more often than not.
According to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, an estimated 7.9 million American adults met the criteria for mental health and addiction co-occurring disorders in 2014. Without needed treatment help, these conditions will continue to co-exist like fire and gasoline, with one condition feeding off the other.
Understanding how mental illness and addiction co-occurring disorders work can be a good first step towards looking into available treatment options and getting the help you need. Please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-598-5053 (Who Answers?) if you have any questions or need help finding a treatment program.
The Makings of a Co-Occurring Disorder
The brain requires a delicate balance of neurotransmitters chemicals to function at optimal levels. Neurotransmitters, such as GABA, dopamine and serotonin play pivotal roles in maintaining a person’s physical and psychological health.
Both addiction and mental illness result from ongoing chemical imbalances develop in the brain. When mental illness and addiction co-occurring disorders take shape, a person is actually battling two brain disorders that work together as one, which can make the recovery process especially difficult.
The Link Between Mental Illness and Addiction
Conditions like depression and anxiety are well known as mental illnesses. Surprisingly enough, addiction is also considered a form of mental illness due to the compulsive drug-using behaviors that essentially take over a person’s daily existence.
For these reasons, someone struggling with mental illness is twice as likely to develop an addiction problem as someone not affected by mental health issues. Likewise, people affected by addiction are twice as likely to develop mental health problems.
Types of Mental Illness and Addiction Co-Occurring Disorders
According to the New York State Office of Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Services, mental illness and addiction co-occurring disorders encompass a range of different conditions that can vary in severity. The most common types of co-occurring disorders include the following types of conditions:
- Personality disorders (e.g. antisocial personality, obsessive-compulsive, paranoid personality)
- Mood disorders (e.g. bipolar, PTSD, depression, schizophrenia)
While not everyone dealing with mental illness or addiction will develop a co-occurring disorder, certain risk factors do make a person more susceptible. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, risk factors to consider include:
- Genetic predisposition
- High stress levels
- Past abuse, such as physical, emotional or sexual abuse
As addiction and mental illness are both considered developmental disorders, early exposure to drug abuse, such as during the teenage years can also increase the risk of developing a co-occurring disorder.
Once a person develops mental illness and addiction co-occurring disorders, the severity of both conditions will increase at a rapid rate, which can make for a miserable quality of life. Considering how these conditions interact and feed off one another, the sooner a person gets needed treatment help the better the chance of a full recovery.
Please don’t hesitate to call our toll-free helpline at 800-598-5053 (Who Answers?) if you have more questions or need help finding treatment that meets your needs.