How Mental Illness and Addiction Are Connected

Have you recently been diagnosed with a mental illness? If so, you are not alone. About half of all adult addicts also have a mental health disorder. Even if you have not yet received a diagnosis, you could very well have an undiagnosed disorder.

There are different theories about why this is the case, and most of them have come to the same conclusion. For many people, their introduction to drugs was a direct response to mental health symptoms, even when people are not fully aware of it. You may think that drugs and alcohol make you feel better, but not really know why.

In reality, the reason most people start using is because they are trying to self-medicate. You may not even realize that’s what you’re doing. The fact of the matter is that there are thousands of people who have an undiagnosed mental illness. If you are one of those, it can not only lead you to substance abuse, it can actually make it hard to quit.

Many people find it very difficult to get sober because withdrawal causes other problems to come to the surface. Withdrawal can cause a significant amount of physical, mental, and emotional stress. For most people with a mental illness, episodes are more likely to occur in times of great stress or trauma.

For this reason, many sober programs and rehab facilities have a psychiatrist on staff. If they do not have one on staff, they likely have a psychiatrist coming in on at least a weekly basis. Most of these programs and facilities evaluate all incoming patients or residents for mental health disorders. The screening allows the facility or program to know how to best treat you. 

If you believe you may have a mental illness contributing to your addiction, you should see a psychiatrist and addiction counselor. Sober living can also help you get more mentally stable before getting back on your own.