Month: January 2018

Is Drug Addiction A Mental Illness?

Is Drug Addiction A Mental Illness?

Is Drug Addiction A Mental Illness?

Mental illness and drug addiction very often overlap one another that it’s difficult to tell which is which. The National Mental Illness Alliance has estimated that more than half of people who are suffering from mental illnesses are also dealing with alcohol or drug abuse. The drug mental illness relationship makes it doubly hard for professionals to treat those who are diagnosed with this type of condition.

Is Drug Addiction A Mental Illness?
Addiction, whether to drugs or alcohol brings about certain chemical changes in the brain. The individual’s normal needs and desires often give way to a single focus on obtaining drugs or alcohol and using it. This is a compulsive-type behavior which fundamentally changes control impulses that are observed in patients who have mental conditions.
The DSM classifies drug use disorders into 2 types- drug dependence and drug abuse. Drug dependence is quite similar to addiction. Drug abuse revolves around harmful consequences regarding constant use, but it doesn’t necessarily mean compulsive use, tolerance or withdrawal, which are elements that make up addiction.
How about the question on whether or not addiction causes mental illness? The answer is not clear. Though closely related, there’s no solid indication on how addiction may cause mental illness and vice versa. The Institute of Drug Abuse has stated that drug abuse can certainly lead to mental illnesses. Heroin, cocaine and other mind-altering drugs such as meth can cause massive changes to how one thinks, which can lead to a mental illness if used long-term. The patient may exhibit excessive anxiety, cognitive impairment, depression and noticeable mood disorders. The tables could be turned around as well, with patients suffering from mental illnesses taking to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope and manage the symptoms. In some cases mental illness and drug addiction both come from one risk factor, i.e., social instability, impaired relations with families, trauma and genetic makeup.
Getting Help For Drug Addiction and Mental Illness
Individuals who take street drugs, misuse medical prescriptions, drink heavily and suffer from a mental illness will find it difficult to get help. The good thing is that there are now facilities who specialize in dual diagnosis and offer specialized treatment and rehabilitation for addiction and mental illnesses. The only downside is that these facilities are few and far in-between.
Those who are suffering from a mental illness will have to overcome a lot of obstacles when they seek treatment for drug addiction. Small scale help groups and addiction treatment centers may not be equipped to handle a dual-diagnosed patient. Moreover, certain types of behavior may be hard to understand. Examples include symptoms of patients who have schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc. People who are suffering from a mental illness may not be able to interact well with peers and counselors. Furthermore, people with chronic mental illnesses will find it almost impossible to keep regular appointments and meetings especially if they do not have a reliable means to get around.
Types of Treatment Available
Care for dual diagnosis patients will require compassion, utmost support, clinical insight and extensive training, among some. The doctors and counselors who treat patients suffering from dual diagnosis must have empathy and understanding for both the drug addiction and mental illness alike.
Traditional drug addiction treatments have little to no effect to those who are dually diagnosed. Heavy emotional disclosure and straight protocols may prove to be too much for someone who has a mental illness. Psychotherapeutic medications are discouraged because it can add to the addiction. Sometimes specialized treatment classes advocate the use of anti-depressant medication which counteracts the positive effects of sobriety.
According to the National Mental Illness Alliance, treatment for those who are dual diagnosed may begin with addressing the mental problem first. Counselors and doctors should do the treatment in a slow, progressive manner, which takes the patient’s emotional and mental stability in account. Drug addicts who are diagnosed with a mental illness may not even be aware that they have a severe addiction. Furthermore, they may react violently or deny all facts when faced with direct confrontation.
If you or someone you know is suffering from a mental illness and finding solace in drugs, then the best thing to do is seek help immediately. Compassionate addiction treatment is available and is very effective in dealing with patients suffering from dual diagnosis.