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How Are Mental Health & Addiction Related?

Mental Health Awareness Month

At The Carter Treatment Center, our team is joining countless other organizations in recognizing this year’s Mental Health Awareness Month. Observed every May since 1949 by the Mental Health America organization, Mental Health Awareness Month is a movement to raise awareness about the importance of mental health and wellness, as well as fight stigma and provide resources for individuals and families dealing with mental illness.

This month, our team is marking the occasion by focusing on the close ties between addiction and mental illness. Rarely does addiction occur for no reason—oftentimes, people with substance abuse or addiction issues also have underlying, untreated mental health conditions. Multiple surveys have found that around half of all individuals who experience mental disorders will also experience a substance use disorder at some point in their lives, and vice versa.

Because addictions and mental disorders exacerbate one another and are so intertwined, they’re often referred to by rehab centers as co-occurring disorders. Some examples of mental disorders associated with drug and alcohol addiction include:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Schizophrenia

One reason why people with existing mental health problems turn to alcohol and drugs is to self-medicate their symptoms. Some people suffering from symptoms of PTSD, for example, such as nightmares or panic attacks, may drink or take drugs to suppress their bad memories and feel temporarily relaxed. Unfortunately, self-medication with drugs or alcohol often leads to addiction and worsens the symptoms people try to relieve. Because alcohol is a depressant, over time it can worsen a person’s depression.

Additionally, alcohol and drug addiction can increase the risk of developing a mental disorder. There’s research showing that people with opioid addictions are at greater risk of developing depression over time. And because the symptoms of both addiction and mental disorders are so similar, it can be challenging to identify whether a person has co-occurring disorders.

How to Determine if You Have a Dual Diagnosis

Do you suspect that you or someone in your family you care about has both an addiction and mental disorder? The best way to determine a dual diagnosis is to call a treatment center like ours to connect to a professional. However, there are some general warning signs to be aware of that may indicate a co-occurring disorder.

If you can answer “yes” to the following questions, you may have a co-occurring disorder:

  • Does your family have a history of either mental illness or alcohol or drug abuse?
  • Do you feel depressed or anxious even when you’re sober?
  • Do you use alcohol or drugs to cope with unpleasant or painful feelings or memories?
  • Do you get depressed when you drink or use drugs?
  • Have you previously been treated for addiction, and did the treatment fail because of complications caused by your mental disorder?

Offering Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment in Suwanee

Because addiction and mental disorders make one another worse, it’s important to treat both at the same time. The Carter Treatment Center does this through our co-occurring disorder treatment at our Suwanee facility to prevent relapsing back into the toxic cycle of using drugs or alcohol to cope with mental issues like depression or anxiety. Our team recognizes that recovery from addiction isn’t just about removing toxins from the body—it requires treating one’s emotional and mental health, too. We’re available to share more information about our outpatient treatment programs, alternative therapies, and counseling options when you call our Georgia team.

The Carter Treatment Center offers comprehensive treatment for those dealing with alcohol addiction, including inpatient and outpatient rehab services. Contact us online or by phone at (678) 737-4430 to learn more about our services in Georgia.