Mental Illness and Substance Abuse

Often times, people look at addiction as a mental illness in itself. But many times, addiction plays the role of a sidekick to a mental illness. There is a definite connection between mental illness and substance abuse. Those suffering with mental illness have a higher risk for substance abuse. The National Bureau of Economic Research has reported the following:

People who have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder at some point in their lives are responsible for the consumption of:

  • 69% of alcohol
  • 84% of cocaine
  • 68% of cigarettes

 

Another study has shown that people with severe mental illness were about:

  • 4 times more likely to be heavy alcohol users (4 or more drinks per day)
  • 3.5 times more likely to use marijuana regularly (21 times per year)
  • 4.6 times more likely to use other drugs at least 10 times in their lives
  • and those suffering from mood and anxiety disorder are twice as likely to suffer from substance abuse.

 

So what’s the link between these two? The most common issue between mental illness and substance abuse is self medication. An individual turns to harmful substances to cope with symptoms of mental illness, which they find disruptive or uncomfortable.

For example, someone struggling with social anxiety may drink more in a social setting to calm their nerves. Or someone depressed may abuse marijuana to feel better.

However, what these individuals fail to realize, is that drug and alcohol abuse can increase the severity of their symptoms. Symptoms of one disorder can trigger another and make matters worse. Substance abuse is never a cure to symptoms of mental illness, if fact, the two make a dangerous combination.

It is highly important that individuals get treated for both mental illness and substance abuse. Some people, and/or their loved ones, may know they struggle with addiction and seek treatment for it. However, what they may not realize that they also need treatment for mental illness.

Researchers used data from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health to show that:

  • Close to 8.4 million adults in the United States have both a mental and substance use disorder.
  • Only 7.9% of people receive treatment for both conditions
  • 53.7% receive no treatment at all

If you or a loved one are suffering from mental illness and substance abuse, please contact a medical professional for advice and treatment. If you are located in/near San Diego, CA, please contact us at Crownview Medical Group to get in touch with our medical professionals who specialize in mental illness and substance abuse.
References:

Severe mental illness ups risks for substance abuse. (2014, January 6). Psych Central. Retrieved August 15, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/01/06/severe-mental-illness-ups-risk-for-substance-abuse/64161.html

The connection between mental illness and substance abuse. (n,d). Dualdiagnosis.com. Retrieved August 15, 2014, from http://www.dualdiagnosis.org/mental-health-and-addiction/the-connection/

Mental illness and substance abuse. (n,d). The National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved August 15, 2014, from http://www.nber.org/digest/apr02/w8699.html