Co-Occurring Disorders – Substance Abuse And Mental Health
There is a link between substance abuse and mental health sometimes diagnosed as a dual diagnosis. Specific mental health issues have a higher instance with those who abuse substances. Recent studies have shown that 30-60 % of persons having a substance abuse problem also have a mental health issue.
A study of the mental health issue of depression, when left untreated or treated incorrectly, shows that 38% of those with depression will also develop a substance abuse issue. Many people with depression will try and self-medicate with substances (other than prescribed) to ease the discomfort of the disorder. For most people, their depressive symptoms where present before their use of alcohol and other drugs. The study also showed that depression and attempted suicide are common among female substance abusers. Among cocaine and alcohol abusers, men are as likely to be diagnosed with depression as women. However, women are more likely to suffer from depression than men in the general population.
Anxiety disorder (panic attack) is also a contributor to the connection between substance abuse and mental health. Substance abuse seems to be a higher risk factor for men with anxiety disorder. Society expects that men will be socially aggressive and this prompts them to use drugs and alcohol to overcome shyness and feelings of inadequacies at higher rates than women, who are not usually expected to be as aggressive. Substance abuse and mental health statistics show that 21% of those with anxiety disorder use drugs in an attempt to calm themselves and deal with their feelings of panic. However, substance abuse and mental health researchers believe they may have an opposite effect, as drugs can often worsen panic attacks.
Substance abuse and mental health issues also coexist for people with Bipolar disorder. The number of patients with bipolar disorder who also have a substance abuse problem ranges from 35 to 55%. With the mental health issue of bipolar disorder, substance abuse issues are more likely to occur than with most other diseases. Persons with bipolar disorder will usually abuse a variety of drugs, to compensate for their highs and lows. They commonly use alcohol when manic symptoms are present and stimulants when depressed.
It is no secret that substance abuse and mental health issues are closely related. Persons who have a mental health disorder that has not been able to get treatment or their treatment is not working correctly will look for a way to alleviate the symptoms. People suffering from symptoms that may be related to mental health issues should seek professional treatment and honestly let their provider know how the treatment is working for them. Abusing substances to treat mental health issues will only worsen the symptoms and send the patient on a path with another problem to address.
Bipolar Disorder with Substance Abuse
Bipolar Disorder and substance abuse often go hand in hand and are typically diagnosed as having co-occurring disorders, sometimes called dual disorders. When this mental disease goes undiagnosed and untreated, sometimes people will self-medicate and turn to substance abuse to relieve the symptoms.
Bipolar disorder is related to moods. It causes severe mood swings from feelings of happiness to shallow depressions. When a person with bipolar disorder is on a ‘high’ cycle, they may have trouble sleeping, increased energy and be restless. Because of this type of behavior, sometimes bipolar disorder is misdiagnosed as ADHD. The ‘lows’ associated with bipolar disorder can be such severe depression, suicidal thoughts, and feelings of hopelessness. There are a series of psychological tests that can be administered to determine if bipolar disorder is present. Some medications can be prescribed once a correct diagnosis has been reached. There may be a time of trial and error with drugs, however, because different prescription medications react differently among people with bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder and substance abuse are found together more often than one would think. When the condition is left undiagnosed, misdiagnosed or the medication trial and error period is occurring people may self-medicate. Self-medication comes in the form of substance abuse.
When a person is experiencing the severe ‘lows’ of bipolar disorder, they may seek out ways to lift the depression. Surprisingly enough, some turn to alcohol. This can be destructive because while alcohol can ‘numb’ the senses for a while and give a false sense of well being, it is also a depressive substance and can make symptoms of depression worse.
Bipolar disorder and substance abuse can also occur when a person who is not on correct medications try and continue the euphoric feelings that are present during a ‘manic phase.’ The ‘manic phase’ of this disorder is when there is increased energy, overinflated feelings of well being and this is the ‘high’ end of the mood swing. To maintain this ‘manic phase’ persons with bipolar disorder will sometimes turn to abusing substances such as amphetamines. Stimulant use can be widespread among people with bipolar disorder.
There are treatments available persons with bipolar disorder. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of this disease will alert you to the fact that there may be a need for an evaluation. Evaluation of bipolar disorder is usually done through a psychologist or psychiatrist. Your general physician may also want to test your thyroid functions as this can sometimes be a contributing factor in bipolar.
Even though episodes of overwhelmed and depression naturally come and go for everyone, remember that bipolar is a mental health disorder and is a long-term illness that currently has no cure, however, co-occurring disorders can cure with the right help. When people turn to substance abuse to treat the symptoms of their bipolar disorder, this only complicates the situation as substance abuse can have grave consequences. Sticking to your treatment, even when you feel down, can help keep the ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ under control and reduce the chance of substance abuse to self-medicate.
Anxiety And Substance Abuse
Anxiety and substance abuse have been shown to go hand in hand with one another for many individuals. When anxiety occurs, the body looks for a way to calm itself. If relief is not swift and strong enough, many people turn to self-medication in the form of substance abuse.
Substance abuse, in the form of alcohol, seems to be the number one choice to relieve anxiety. Most of us experience anxiety in our everyday lives, and there are many people who ‘stop and have a drink’ after work to relieve some stress. This becomes a problem, however, when it leads to substance abuse. Persons with an’ addictive personality,’ that are predisposed to addiction slip into the pattern of anxiety leading to substance abuse much more easily than others. As well, those who know that they have a substance abuse issue should be aware of the fact that anxiety can lead to relapse even when there has been a long period of sobriety.
Drugs, of course, are also an issue when it comes to anxiety and substance abuse. Drugs relieve the stress by giving the abuser a false sense of well being along with a numbing effect. Persons with anxiety issues are found, usually, also to have a high occurrence of depression issues. This creates a double-edged sword because as well as causing false euphoria, drugs can even worsen depression. Substance abusers that use drugs to relieve anxiety can also go into relapse by stressful situations.
Treating anxiety in substance abusers can be difficult. Finding a medication that will effectively deal with anxiety, does not cause addiction and is in low enough doses to prevent the likelihood of overdose, can be clinically challenging. Studies in this area are becoming more promising. This is due to the development of new medications that treat both anxiety and substance abuse.
There is a number of programs that have been developed by clinicians to try and reduce relapse due to anxiety. These programs teach self-calming and coping skills in response to anxiety to prevent substance abuse. The key to these types of programs is self-determination and lots of practice with the skills.
The most crucial factor in treating anxiety and substance abuse is early intervention. The two together cause a vicious circle and the more substance abuse there is, the more anxiety and depression will occur. If you or your loved one is struggling with anxiety and substance abuse, seek professional help right away. Anxiety not only goes hand in hand with substance abuse but over a prolonged period can cause other physical issues. This could be a crucial step in treatment and recovery and improving overall health.
Can Substance Abuse Cause Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia and substance abuse combined can lead to devastating consequences for those diagnosed with this disorder. The abuse of some substances has been linked to worsening episodes of schizophrenia. And sadly enough people with schizophrenia are highly likely to have a substance abuse disorder commonly known a co-occurring disorder or dual disorders.
The disease of schizophrenia is possibly the most serious of the mental disorders. The process of schizophrenia is: the person will suffer from problems with their thought processes. This will then lead to hallucinations, delusions, disordered thinking, and unusual speech or behavior. The symptoms of schizophrenia affect the ability to interact with others, and often people with this disorder withdraw from the outside world into the safety of their space.
A study was thought that schizophrenia could be caused by the abuse of drugs such as LSD, PCP, amphetamines, and cocaine. These particular drugs exhibit the same behaviors as seen in patients with schizophrenia, so researchers thought that these drugs may be the cause of this debilitating disorder. While this particular study did not confirm this theory, it was shown that those who have schizophrenia and substance abuse issues can have much worse schizophrenic episodes. It was also found that the use of stimulants and hallucinogens can start the process of a schizophrenic episode.
Schizophrenia substance abuse is more times than not, a form of self-medication. People with schizophrenia often feel listless and have the feeling that it is difficult to maintain a thought process. The abuse of stimulants is most often present in people with schizophrenia because stimulants release dopamine. Dopamine raises confidence levels, enhances speech and increases energy. Medications for schizophrenia can also ‘slow’ a person down so schizophrenia substance abuse may occur to counteract the effects of the drug prescribed to control the disorder. This can create a vicious cycle as stimulants can induce schizophrenic episodes. As well, the use of tobacco can reduce the effectiveness of prescribed medications for those with this disorder and schizophrenics that smoke needs a higher dose of prescribed medication to compensate for this.
Schizophrenia cannot be cured and is a life-long illness. Most patients will need some form of treatment for the rest of their lives. Because the general public does not understand the disease, people with schizophrenia often feel isolated and stigmatized and are mistaken for drug addicts. Schizophrenia substance abuse lessens the chance that treatments will work properly and is, therefore, a concern. For people with this disorder to have a reasonable ability to function in society, it is imperative that prescribed treatment is followed and that the abuse of substances is avoided.