It is not uncommon for mental illness and addiction to occur simultaneously. Of course, this also means that treatment for both becomes even more critical. If you or a loved one is suffering from a mental illness, you may be at risk for addiction and vice versa. It is important that you understand both the risks of your illness and the effects of treatment, as well as where you should begin tackling your problems. Here are a few things to know if you have either an addiction or a mental illness.
Many People with Mental Health Problems Experience Addiction
Though the Western world is becoming more accepting and aware of mental health concerns, many people still struggle with getting mental health care. Many people have limited education on mental health or simply cannot afford care. These difficulties too often result in self-medication.
Self-medication describes the actions of a person who has a physical or mental illness and attempts to treat their symptoms with addictive substances. Alcohol is a legal substance that is commonly used as a means to self-medicate.
As a depressant, alcohol makes mental processes slower, which may make thoughts or anxieties seem easier to cope with. For example, a person with anxiety may find that alcohol slows their racing thoughts and eliminates the persistent knot of worry in their stomachs. With alcohol’s social acceptability, it is all too easy to unintentionally become addicted.
Many People with Addictions will Develop Mental Health Problems
Addiction is considered a mental illness. However, it can also cause the symptoms of other common mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety. Unlike other mental illnesses, a substance-induced mental illness can be treated and potentially resolved with sobriety and therapy. If the substance abuse continues, the symptoms of mental illness will only become worse as time goes on. Treatment should be found as soon as possible in order to prevent or reverse the effects of an addiction.
There Are Many Forms of Effective Treatment
While many treatments will focus on only a mental illness or only a mental addiction, there are also options that tackle both issues. Talk therapy, art therapy, and exercise therapy are all valid options that can work to smooth your road to recovery as well as handle any mental health concerns. You may also opt to treat each condition separately.
To find a good treatment plan, seek the advice of a counselor who specializes in addiction and mental health. They may be the ones to treat you or they may refer you to a successful program. The most important thing you can do is seek help as soon as you recognize a problem. The earlier your treatment, the easier it will be for life to return to normal.
Recognizing that you or a loved one may have an addiction or a mental illness can be a frightening revelation. However, you should remember that by catching the problem, treatment can begin to take place and things can only get better as you continue to work through treatment with a qualified provider. Whether the problem is self-medication or a substance abuse issue, there is a treatment out there that will make your better.