suffering from substance abuse and mental health problems

The In-Depth Guide to Substance Abuse and Mental Health

01 Apr 2021

Your quality of life can really be hampered if your mental health is not as it should be. Nowadays, many people are suffering from mental health issues and are afraid to get immediate treatment since there is a stigma that comes with admitting that they have such a problem.

As though having a mental health issue isn’t stressful enough, coupling it with substance abuse becomes another issue altogether. It’s never easy to deal with a co-occurring disorder. However, in our Houston emergency clinic, we have emergency care that can help you get back on your feet.

Substance abuse and mental health problems are quite common, more than you may believe. Statistics show that close to 50 percent of the people who are suffering from severe mental disorders are also battling substance abuse.

Another shocking statistic is that nearly 37 percent of alcohol abusers and over 50 percent of drug abusers are suffering from at least one severe mental illness.

Is There a Connection Between Substance Abuse and Mental Health?

Some people sometimes suffer from mental health issues such as bipolar disorder, depression, or anxiety and have a substance abuse problem. This condition is called dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder.

When you are suffering from a co-occurring disorder, you may experience unique symptoms that can severely alter the way you function at school or work. It can even hamper your ability to maintain a stable home, relate to others, and even handle life’s difficulties.

These two conditions have a way of affecting each other. This is because many people who have mental disorders are often diagnosed with substance abuse and vice versa. In other words, if you have a mental health issue that goes untreated, the substance abuse issue will also become worse. And if the substance abuse worsens, then the mental health issues will also increase.

Therefore, you shouldn’t let either of these issues fester while there is immediate treatment at our ER near you.

Which Issue Comes First?

As you know, substance abuse and mental health are linked. But it is not necessarily assumed that one issue directly causes the other. Also, there isn’t a specific order in which the issues occur.

For instance, if you abuse certain substances such as methamphetamine or marijuana, you can experience prolonged periods of psychotic reactions. Also, when you abuse alcohol, you can worsen the anxiety and depression symptoms.

In most cases, people tend to abuse alcohol to self-medicate the symptoms of mental health issues. However, this is known to worsen the condition.

Signs and Symptoms of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Problems (Co-Occurring Disorder)

In most scenarios, the prevalent mental health issues that occur with substance abuse are bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, PTSD, and borderline personality disorder.

The common signs of mental health issues are:

  • Having sleep issues (insomnia or sleeping too much)
  • Lacking empathy
  • Having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of hurting other people
  • Having constant thoughts or flashbacks that never seem to go away
  • Feeling confused, irritable, or sad
  • Overeating or not eating enough
  • Being unable to carry out your daily chores
  • Hearing voices in your head that never seem to quiet
  • Feeling hopeless or helpless

Some of the signs of substance abuse that you should look out for are:

  • Feeling guilty, bad, or ashamed about your drug or alcohol use
  • Trying to cut back but not being able to
  • Needing to consume more to achieve the same effect
  • Drug or alcohol use that has caused problems in your relationships and work

How Is Co-Occurring Disorder Treated?

Always remember when you are dealing with such issues that there is hope. Mental health problems and substance abuse are both treatable conditions. The best treatment for mental health and substance abuse is an integrated approach.

In other words, mental health issues and substance abuse are treated at the same time. It doesn’t matter which came first; your recovery is dependent on treating both the issues simultaneously.

Therefore, for the mental health issue, treatment may include:

  • Medication
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Peer support
  • Group or individual counseling
  • Self-help measures

Treatment for substance abuse may include:

  • Management of withdrawal symptoms
  • Detoxification
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Group, individual, or family therapy

As you can see, substance abuse and mental health problems are treatable. Contact our doctors at our Houston emergency clinic, Memorial Village ER, if you need emergency care.

“Our physicians are trained in psychiatric and substance abuse emergencies. We are here to help you through your Emergency every step of the way.” – Dr. Rawat

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