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Mental Illness and Drug Abuse: Is There a Link?

Addiction and mental illness often overlap, and numbers never lie. According to a survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, about 9 million people who have reported being drug abusers also had mental illnesses. However, only 7% of these people received treatment to treat both conditions, whereas more than 60% of people didn’t receive any treatment at all. Since this issue is often linked together, there’s a term to describe; it’s called “comorbidity”. This refers to two conditions co-existing together, such as drug addiction and mental health issues. This means that majority of the people who are drug addicts will also have mental illness as an underlying cause for the addiction. It’s important to know that both of these issues are recognized as chronic brain disorders. When someone becomes an addict, their brain becomes permanently rewired by the substance being abused. This causes the brain to work differently than it used to when they were not addicted. However, even if someone overcomes their addiction, they’re never really out of danger. Just like some other serious diseases, they must manage this condition for their entire life, or it can result in a relapse.

Why Mental Illness and Addiction Co-Occurs

Even though comorbidity rate is high between mental illness and addiction, it can’t be assumed that either one causes the other, even if one of the conditions appeared first. Instead, a wide range of factors must be considered to determine what causes each problem. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), here are some things to know about drug abuse and mental illness:

  • Drug abuse causes people to experience more than one symptom of mental illness. For example, marijuana users are more at risk of psychosis than others.
  • Sometimes, already existing mental illnesses can cause people to become drug or alcohol abusers since they use it as a way to self-medicate.

Evidence also explains that mental illnesses and addictions can also be caused due to underlying brain deficits, exposure to trauma in the early years, or genetic influences. In the end, it all comes down to different cases and what caused people to start experimenting with substances in the first place. For example, in some cases, the age at which mental illness and addiction symptoms start appearing matters a lot.

Is There a Treatment For Comorbidity?

According to research, when comorbidity exists, both conditions must be treated simultaneously. If one is treated first and the other is left untreated, it can result in relapse much quicker. That’s why some doctors offer integrated treatment that works on addiction and mental illness. This treatment usually consists of a mix of counseling and medication. If you’re looking for such reliable addiction treatment options in Baltimore, contact MD M.A.T.T today. We’re a suboxone clinic in Owings Mills with some of the finest addiction doctors on board. We offer a wide range of addiction treatments in Baltimore to deal with addiction and mental illness when there’s comorbidity. If you’re eager to learn more, get in touch with us today.