What Is The Relationship Between Addiction and Mental Illness?
The relationship between addiction and mental illness has been shown to be complex by many researchers. For example, 55% of those who have an addiction to drugs or alcohol will eventually develop a mental disorder. This correlates with a finding that 20% of those with a mental illness are likely to have an addiction problem.
Analyzing the relationship between the two is important to understand more about how addiction and mental illness interact and how they can be treated effectively.
Those With Substance Abuse Problems Are At Risk For Mental Illness
Abusing prescription drugs often carries with it the potential for irreversible changes in the brain. This is due to the changes in brain chemistry that come as a result of the use of drugs such as cocaine, heroin, or prescription drugs.
This is especially troubling if the person abusing the drugs already has an existing condition such as depression or anxiety. The reason for this, is that the drugs will only strengthen the effects felt by these conditions, often causing a downward spiral where more alcohol or drugs are needed to mask the symptoms.
Drugs And Alcohol Affect The Symptoms Of Mental Illness
Individuals with mental conditions might attempt to mask their symptoms by using alcohol or drugs. This is especially true if they have depression, anxiety, hallucinations, or other symptoms that come as a result of PTSD. However, masking these symptoms with alcohol or drugs offers only temporary relief from negative emotions. This often leads to more troubling symptoms as long-term abuse takes place.
Likewise, those who have mental illnesses such as PTSD or MTBI are often more prone to high-risk activities. This high-risk trait can often be traced to a compromised sense of judgment, resulting in a higher likelihood of abusing alcohol, prescription drugs, or more damaging drugs such as cocaine or meth.
In the event the person wants to stop using alcohol or drugs, they will often be stopped due to withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can often be life-threatening and lead to the effects of psychological disorders being amplified.
Other Factors That Explain The Relationship Between Addiction and Mental Illness
Those who are suffering from PTSD are not the only ones who are likely to abuse alcohol or drugs. In fact, several factors could strengthen the relationship between addiction and mental illness and affect their mental health. This includes being exposed to a harsh environment, which many warriors are all too familiar with.
From being on the battlefield as a soldier to visiting crime scenes as law enforcement or EMTs, this can often wear down even the toughest of warriors. This leads to situations where mental health is slowly impaired after years of service.