How Co-Occurring Disorders Make Addiction Worse

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Distraught man thinking about his co-occuring disorders

When you’re dealing with a mental illness as well as an addiction, you’re actually dealing with two different issues. Depending on your situation, the symptoms of mental illness may have come before you began drinking or using. For others, the symptoms of mental illness develop as a result of drinking or using drugs. In any case, your mental health is of the utmost importance, which is why you need treatment for co-occurring disorders.

Co-Occurring Disorders and Addiction

man sitting in a window seat suffers from co-occurring disordersA very common problem is that people develop symptoms of mental illness without knowing what’s happening. You may feel like you’re going crazy when you begin experiencing panic attacks for seemingly no reason. Or, you may suddenly find it difficult to motivate yourself to even get out of the bed this morning. This happens because many people don’t receive the education they need to identify a mental illness.

Most mental illnesses develop between the ages of 14 and 24 years of age, which is a problem when it comes to addiction. The prefrontal cortex of the brain isn’t yet fully developed, so if you turn to drugs or alcohol, you’re more likely to develop an addiction. During this fragile time, the mind is looking for solutions to problems without the ability to make logical decisions. Eventually, self-medication turns into an issue that you can’t control.
Common forms of mental illness that cause people to self-medicate include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • ADHD
  • Bipolar disorder

Seeking appropriate substance abuse treatments can help relieve these issues.

Developing Mental Illness After Drug Use

It’s important to realize that long-term substance abuse can cause you to develop psychological disorders without realizing it. Depression is very common amongst people who abuse drugs because the body of a drug user no longer naturally creates dopamine. In a non-user, the brain knows to create dopamine, but it learns that it doesn’t have to when drugs or alcohol begin supplying it. The other issue is that your brain begins needing more of the drug just create enough dopamine to make you feel okay.

Everyone experiences anxiety when they’re in a potentially dangerous situation. Most people have minimal amounts of anxiety though because they live a life that isn’t particularly stressful. When you’re caught in active addiction, you’re constantly causing chaos in your life, which puts you in a state of panic. You also begin to experience anxiety when you run out of alcohol or drugs due to psychological dependence.

Treating Co-Occurring Disorders

When you go to treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction, you should find a facility that can treat both disorders. The two leading causes of relapse are when a person has an untreated mental illness or an undiagnosed mental illness. Going to treatment and receiving a diagnosis may begin to give you some concrete answers. Treatment will also help you develop strategies to manage your mental illness and overcome your addiction.

Here at The Hills Treatment Center, we treat people who struggle with addiction as well as different forms of mental illness. We specialize in treating both men and women who are suffering from the disease of alcoholism or addiction. Find out more by giving us a call today at 844-915-0287.

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