Uncovering the Mental and Emotional Aspects of Addiction

There is almost nothing more urgent than getting people with substance abuse problems into treatment.  According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, “Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response.”

Uncovering the mental and emotional aspects of addiction is a process that relies on the collaboration of a qualified therapist and the client, but, the first barrier is getting past the stigma and fear associated with entering a substance abuse treatment program.

Growing Concerns

Growing, are the number of individuals who have suffered mental health issues as a result of their addiction or the addiction of a loved one.  According to the SAMHSA, “In families with substance abuse, family members often are connected not just to each other but also to any of a number of government agencies, such as social services, criminal justice, or child protective services.”  The profound implications of this, in turn, often leads to abnormal behavioral health trends in the children of addicts.

According to the SAMHSA, “By 2020, mental and substance use disorders will surpass all physical diseases as a major cause of disability worldwide.”   In 2013, according to the CDC, there were 41,149 suicides with “The prevalence of suicidal thoughts, suicide planning, and suicide attempts is significantly higher among young adults aged 18-29 years than it is among adults aged ≥30 years.”

Addictions, whether chemical or behavioral, play a significant role in these estimates which the CDC also reports may be highly underestimated because the majority of afflicted individuals never seek services.

The Negativities Involved

Aspects of Addiction

Addicts often feel helpless and rejected.

The common emotional upheavals of an addiction are anger, aggression, depression, anxiety, guilt, fear, envy, jealousy, loneliness, resentment, humiliation, and shame.  Feeling deprived, helpless, confused, overwhelmed, criticized, rejected, abandoned, unworthy, and unloved is the weakness that fools the addict into the seclusion from the healthier relationships and activities into the pits of further self-destruction.

Trying to forget who they are or to avoid the painful emotions of hurting the ones they love comes impulsively as the drugs disrupt specific brain circuits.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “Combined biological, epidemiological, and social science discoveries of the last 3 decades have given us a detailed understanding of the risks, mechanisms, and consequences of drug abuse and addiction.”  For many addicts, the emotional upsets and neurological imbalances that lead to depression, anxiety, mood or sleep disorders can dissipate on their own over time in abstinence while others may require the use of medications to sustain the addict’s coping abilities as they adjust to the changes addiction recovery requires.

How Addiction Treatment Helps

An assessment of the emotional and mental health aspects is just the beginning of an alliance that helps the addict move forward in the rehabilitation phase of treatment while gaining access to professional mental health services along the way.

Addiction treatment services typically include helping the person to identify and change the underlying conditions that lead to stressful events and the possibility of relapse.  Counseling and behavioral therapies help to restructure wayward or distorted thoughts and senses of self, motivate progression in recovery goals, and teach the critical coping skills needed to sustain recovery.

Treating the co-existing substance abuse and mental health disorders at the same time is imperative as it provides the much needed hope that is key to significant recovery. Some treatment providers incorporate 12-step, faith, exercise, nutrition, relaxation techniques or other alternative therapies into their programs.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “Recovery from these disorders is a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.”

(Re)building Relationships

Positive healing in emotions and mental health involves reaching out beyond the self.  No-one who remains isolated will truly be able to overcome their addiction or co-existing issues with isolation. According to the SAMHSA, “The process of recovery is supported through relationships and social networks. This often involves family members who become the champions of their loved one’s recovery.”

Introductions to support group therapies in substance abuse treatment programs offer a wide range of hope to people suffering from a multitude of unwanted emotions and the possibilities to build relationships that are encouraging, nonjudgmental, and free from substance abuse.  The most common groups are A.A., N.A., and Al-Anon.

Support is essential to recovery and the building or rebuilding of relationships fosters the confidence necessary to regain control over one’s life.

To learn more about the mental and emotional aspects of addiction, or for help finding a treatment program, call  800-598-5053 (Who Answers?) .


I NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE NOWI NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE NOW800-598-5053Response time about 1 min | Response rate 100%
Who Answers?

Where do calls go?

Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Calls to any general helpline (non-facility specific 1-8XX numbers) will be answered or returned by one of the treatment providers listed below, each of which is a paid advertiser:

ARK Behavioral Health

By calling the helpline you agree to the terms of use. We do not receive any commission or fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a caller chooses. There is no obligation to enter treatment.