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Could Depression or Anxiety Be Driving Your Addiction?

Mental health issues and addiction

Mental health issues and addiction often exist together because many people use drugs or alcohol as a way to self-medicate and change their uncomfortable mental state. The answer to whether or not depression or anxiety can cause or lead to addiction is yes. However the link between the two is not always easy to detect. 

Mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, often work in cycles with addiction. People with a drug or alcohol addiction have an increased risk for a mental health issue, and those suffering from a mental health issue have a higher chance of addiction. It’s not always possible to determine which came first–the addiction or the mental illness. 

Co-Occurring Disorders

When a person has a mental health issue and a substance use disorder, they have a co-occurring disorder, also known as a dual diagnosis or dual disorder. For example, an individual may suffer from a co-occurring disorder of general anxiety disorder and alcohol addiction. Or, a person may have more than one mental health issue, such as depression and anxiety, along with a substance use disorder.

When an individual suffers from co-occurring disorders, they face a unique set of circumstances:

  • The co-occurring disorders have a direct effect on one another. For example, when drug or alcohol abuse increases, there is usually an increase in mental health issues. And substance use usually becomes worse when mental health issues go without treatment.
  • Both the drug or alcohol addiction and the mental health issue have their own symptoms that may cause difficulty in relationships, home life, work, and school. 
  • The severity of the co-occurring disorders may be at different levels, and those levels will likely change with time.
  • An individual with co-occurring disorders is likely to experience more severe mental health and medical challenges than a person with a single disorder. A person with a combination of disorders may require treatment for a longer time.

How Common are Co-occurring Disorders?

Co-occurring mental health issues and substance use disorders are more common than most people think. Research shows that people who suffer from mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, are more likely to become addicted to drugs or alcohol. The statistics below reveal the severity of the problem:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than fifty percent of people in the United States will have a diagnosis of mental health disorder at some time in their lives.
  • According to SAMHSA, individuals with a mental health disorder are more likely to experience drug or alcohol addiction than people who do not have a mental health condition. 
  • The National Library of Medicine explains that almost one-third of people with major depressive disorder also suffer from an alcohol or drug addiction.
  • Reports from The Journal of the American Medical Association showed that approximately 50 percent of people with severe mental health disorders also have a substance use disorder. Fifty-three percent of people who abuse drugs and 37 percent of people who abuse alcohol have one or more serious mental health disorders.
  • A report from The National Bureau of Economic Research states that individuals with a diagnosis of a mental health disorder are 69 percent more likely to use cocaine and 25 percent more likely to drink alcohol. 

Addiction, Mental Health, and Denial

Many people are in denial of their health conditions. Being in denial is common in both mental health disorders and drug and alcohol addiction. It is hard for many people to admit they have a substance abuse problem. They do not want family, friends, or coworkers to know they have a dependency on drugs or alcohol or that it affects their life. 

Similarly, many individuals do not want others to know about their mental health issues. They may find the symptoms of their illness, such as depression or anxiety, frightening, or they may feel ashamed of them. They may try to ignore their symptoms while hoping they will stop. They may be afraid other people will see them as weak if they find out about their illness. 

Get the Help You Need

But mental health issues and addiction to drugs or alcohol can happen to anyone. Facing your problem and admitting it is the first step to recovery. If you or a loved one struggles with a substance use disorder, contact Canyon Vista Recovery Center in Mesa, Arizona. A caring professional will answer your questions and help you take the next step toward living your life substance free.

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