Analyzing the Overlap Between Substance Abuse and Other Mental Health Issues


Many people understand that it is not unusual for someone to suffer from substance abuse concerns and other mental health issues. When mental health issues show up at the same time as substance abuse concerns, they are typically called co-occurring disorders.

There is a lot of focus on trying to figure out what came first. Did the mental health issues lead to substance abuse concerns? Or, did substance abuse concerns lead to mental health issues?

Instead of taking this approach, it is important to understand the potential risk factors, why they typically show up together, and what can be done to provide someone with the best possible mental health treatment.

Either One Can Show Up First

First, it is important to understand that mental health issues can appear before substance abuse, and vice versa. For example, someone may suffer from depression or anxiety. Then, they may have a difficult time coping with depression or anxiety. If they feel like nothing else is working, they may turn to alcohol or illicit drugs. Furthermore, benzodiazepines, which are often used to treat anxiety, can be incredibly addictive. As a result, someone may develop addiction concerns stemming from mental health issues.

On the other hand, someone may already have substance abuse issues. Someone with substance abuse issues needs to reach out for help as quickly as possible. Then, if they feel like they are not getting any better and feel like their personal relationships are suffering, they could develop depression and anxiety. This is a perfect example of how either one can show up before the other. The most important thing is to understand that comprehensive treatment is required to help someone recover from co-occurring disorders.

The Interactions Tend To Exacerbate the Symptoms

The symptoms tend to exacerbate one another if someone has mental health issues and substance abuse concerns. That is because the entire system creates a positive feedback loop. What this means is that mental health issues could get worse over time. As a result, individuals may be looking for ways to cope with worsening symptoms. Then, they may turn to illicit substances, believing they will get a bigger effect from drugs. They might even start drinking as a way to increase the effects of drugs. This will only make mental health issues worse, continuing the cycle.

Furthermore, their substance abuse issues could get worse as well. This is because the more someone takes, the greater tolerance they develop for those drugs. This means that they will need to take more specific drugs to get the same effect, worsening their substance abuse issues. When someone feels like they have to take more of a substance, they also increase their chances of overdosing. This can lead to serious issues, so it is important to reach out for help as quickly as possible. That way, a treatment professional can develop a comprehensive plan to help someone recover.

Understanding the Risk Factors

It is also critical to take a look at some of the risk factors that may go along with mental health issues and substance abuse concerns. Some of the biggest risk factors that people need to know include:

  • Someone who has a pre-existing mental health issue is that a greater risk of developing a substance abuse concern.
  • Furthermore, someone with substance abuse issues is at a greater risk of developing other mental health concerns.
  • If someone has a past medical history that already includes mental health issues or substance to these concerns, they are at a greater risk of developing other issues.
  • Someone who has a family history of mental health issues and substance abuse concerns will be at a greater risk of developing them themselves.

These are some of the biggest risk factors that could increase someone’s chances of being diagnosed with a mental health issue or substance abuse concern. Anyone who has questions or concerns about mental health issues or substance abuse issues should reach out to a professional for guidance.

Help Is Available

The impact of mental health issues and substance abuse concerns can be severe. When both of them occur at the same time, the impact of both is magnified. That is why it is important to reach out to a treatment professional for help.

Even though a lot of people feel like they can recover on their own, this is not necessarily the case. It is always better to reach out to a mental health professional who can create an objective plan that can put someone in the best position possible to recover.

It is critical for people to have the support of their family members and friends, but it is just as important to reach out to a treatment expert who can monitor the recovery process. Never feel like you have to go through this on your own. A professional is willing to lend a helping hand.


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