In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the focus is not only on physical health but also on mental health across the country. May is appropriately Mental Health Month and a good time to look at issues that may be affecting you during this challenging time as well as when things return to “normal.” Mental health problems and substance abuse disorders can occur together, so a look at mental health and addiction medicine can help you sort out the facts and learn how to get treatment.
When you have a mental health problem and a substance abuse disorder, you are diagnosed with a co-occurring disorder. This situation, also referred to a dual diagnosis, is actually quite common. About 25% of people with mental illness also have a substance abuse disorder.
In some cases, people suffering from serious mental disorders (often undiagnosed ones) take drugs to alleviate their symptoms–a very dangerous practice known as self-medicating. Individuals with schizophrenia sometimes use substances such as marijuana to mitigate the disorder’s negative symptoms (depression, apathy, and social withdrawal), to combat auditory hallucinations and paranoid delusions, or to lessen the adverse effects of their medication, which can include depression and restlessness.
However, mental disorders can be caused by drug abuse. Certain illegal drugs can cause people with an addiction to experience one or more symptoms of a mental health problem. For example, ecstasy produces long-term deficits in serotonin function in the brain, leading to mental disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Chronic substance abuse and serious mental disorders can also exist completely independently of one another.
Research on Risk Factors
The National Institute on Drug Abuse cites research on three possibilities for co-occurring disorders involving mental illness and substance abuse:
- There are many genes that can contribute to the risk of developing both a substance use disorder and a mental illness. For example, some people have a specific gene that can make them at increased risk of mental illness as an adult, if they frequently used marijuana as a child. A gene can also influence how a person responds to a drug – whether or not using the drug makes them feel good. Environmental factors, such as stress or trauma, can cause genetic changes that are passed down through generations and may contribute to the development of mental illnesses or a substance use disorder.
- Some mental health conditions have been identified as risk factors for developing a substance use disorder. For example, some research suggests that people with mental illness may use drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication, which actually makes their condition worse. Although some drugs may help with mental illness symptoms, sometimes this can also make the symptoms worse. Additionally, when a person develops a mental illness, brain changes may enhance the rewarding effects of substances, predisposing the person to continue using the substance.
- Substance use and addiction can contribute to the development of mental illness. Substance use may change the brain in ways that make a person more likely to develop a mental illness.
When you need help with co-occurring disorders, the most effective treatment for you will address your mental health and addiction medicine options for your substance abuse. An effective form of treatment known as medication-assisted treatment (MAT) combines behavioral therapy and medications to help you through addiction treatment while addressing your mental health in a “whole patient” approach.
Calming Goat is focused on healing you as that whole person – mind, body, and spirit. Our healthcare professionals address your physical dependence first and then work with you on your recovery by offering unique medication-assisted treatment and medical services that will help you work through your mental health and addiction.
MAT has proven to be clinically effective and to significantly reduce the need for inpatient detoxification services. MAT provides a more comprehensive, individually tailored program of medication and behavioral therapy. MAT also includes support services that address the needs of most patients.
Some effective behavioral therapies for treating a dual diagnosis include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps to change harmful beliefs and behaviors.
- Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) was designed specifically to reduce self-harm behaviors including suicide attempts, thoughts, or urges; cutting; and drug use.
- Assertive community treatment (ACT) emphasizes outreach to the community and an individualized approach to treatment.
- Therapeutic communities (TC) are a common form of long-term residential treatment that focus on the “resocialization” of the person.
Contact Calming Goat for Mental Health and Addiction Medicine Options
Our team at Calming Goat is made up of board certified physicians from a variety of specialties and backgrounds. We focus on treating you as a whole person, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Our professional staff is fully prepared to treat any co-occurring mental or physical problems that you may encounter, to guide you through a successful recovery.
We are an essential healthcare business and will remain open, following CDC guidelines for COVID-19, to continue helping you find true recovery from your addiction. We work on healing the whole person, in a calm, no-nonsense approach to substance use disorders, as we focus on your mind, body, and spirit. Call (424) 376-3444 or contact us online to schedule your appointment today.