Studies show that as many as 40 percent or more people with substance addiction problems also suffer from a mental health condition. It may be depression, social anxiety, bipolar disorder or a number of other diagnoses. Treating someone with both of these conditions is a lot more complicated than treating one condition alone. It’s important to understand how mental illness can lead to substance abuse.
Why People with Mental Illness Turn to Drugs
When someone suffers from a mental illness, others may look at them differently. They are stereotyped as “crazy” or “irrational,” often seen as unable to function like a normal person. The person doesn’t want to be labeled, so they hide their feelings and behaviors. The symptoms of mental illness are often disruptive and frightening, so the person attempts to find a way to stop them through drugs or alcohol rather than seeking help through a treatment program.
Here is an example of someone using drugs or alcohol to deal with a mental health disorder. The person suffers from severe social anxiety, but they have a job that requires them to function in group settings. They may speak in public or just interact with others, which increases their anxiety.
To combat the symptoms, they decide to have a few drinks before going to the event. It loosens them up, they relax and have a good time. Unfortunately, it only works for a while before they need to increase the amount they must drink to counteract the symptoms.
What generally happens is the symptoms get worse over time unless the drugs or alcohol are increased. The person has entered a viscous cycle they usually cannot get out of without professional help. If you or someone you love has a mental health disorder and a substance addiction, you need to seek help with a center that offers treatment for both conditions.