Addiction and Mental Disorders: Are They Related?
Scientists have linked mental disorders to addiction, noting that addicts often have one or more co-occurring mental disorders.
Consider these facts:
- Research has shown babies exposed to legal and illegal drugs in the womb, suffer slow intellectual development and affected behavior later in life, and have a higher chance for becoming a person with substance use disorder when adults. Parents can contribute to generational addiction in families.
- Abuse of illicit drugs and alcohol contributes to the death of more than 100,000 Americans yearly, while using addictive but legal tobacco is linked to an estimated 440,000.
- It is debated by scientists whether depression causes alcoholism or vice versa, both common occurrences in far too many adults.
- Diabetes, depression, cancer, high blood pressure and obesity are a few of the common co-occurring illnesses of alcohol and drug abuse. Many of these are life threatening and expensive to medicate or treat.
One reason that people with mental illnesses often have addiction issues is that many illnesses cause stress that can be relieved by the abuse of drugs. People self-medicate by turning to alcohol or other drugs. This is dangerous because the reward system in the brain becomes reinforced by the use of drugs or alcohol, thus creating a greater potential for addictive behaviors to develop.
Individuals may question whether they or someone close has a drug abuse problem or may be binge drinking on the weekend. These behaviors can cause future health problems and addiction. The best treatment will treat all underlying issues together, is catered to fit the situation and the patient’s needs. Body, mind and spirit should all be included in a plan for successfully treating all co-occurring problems for total health.
Few people seriously think about future mental issues when experimenting with substances, especially youth. Don’t wait until damage has been done before making the decision to seek help for mental health and addiction.