The journey of recovery isn’t a newly paved road; we usually have to navigate potholes and speedbumps along the way. For many of us, one of the major obstacles on our sobriety path can be our mental health disorders. When a person suffers from both a mental health disorder and substance abuse, it’s called co-occurring disorders or dual-diagnosis. If an addict seeking treatment is not properly diagnosed or treated for their mental health issues, recovery can become extremely challenging.
Getting and staying clean is hard enough on its own but throwing a mental disorder into the mix, such as anxiety or depression, can make it feel impossible. Luckily for us, there are drug treatment programs specifically tailored to those of us with a dual diagnosis. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, over 8.9 million people are living with co-occurring disorders – we are not alone.
The most common disorders that are diagnosed alongside substance abuse are: antisocial personality disorder, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and schizophrenia. Many of us use drugs as a form of self-medication for our mental health issues, whether we know it or not. Some of us may have actually developed these disorders because of our use. Regardless of whether the mental health disorder or the addiction came first, we can treat both and begin to live healthy lives again.
When we stop using, we grant ourselves the opportunity to deal with our mental health disorders. And when are able to get our mental health disorders treated properly, we allow ourselves higher success rates of recovery from drug addiction. Conversely, if we stop using and don’t seek psychiatric care, we are at an extremely high risk for relapse.
Sometimes, symptoms of a mental health disorder do not begin to show up until after we’ve been clean and sober for some time. Staying aware of any extreme changes in how we are feeling, our thought processes, and how we are reacting to certain situations can be a major tip-off to ourselves that something might not be right. We can seek help at any time in our recovery, not just in the beginning or while in active addiction. A trip to a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, or counselor could be a great start to finding out if we may need treatment for a mental health disorder.
If you or a loved one are suffering from substance abuse and have a history of mental health disorders or even suspect one is present, attending a facility that is capable of treating dual diagnosis patients is highly recommended. Reach out and seek help – the proper help.