National Prevention Week: Decoding link between mental illnesses and addictions

National Prevention Week: Decoding link between mental illnesses and addictions

The existence of mental illness and use of addictive substances are not completely devoid of each other. In fact, mental illness and addiction are innately entwined. At times, the upheavals faced by mentally ill people force them to self-medicate by using alcohol or drugs. Abuse of drugs and alcohol to treat mental health symptoms does not help much in dealing with the illness and, in turn, gives way to a new set of maladies, which aggravates the existing mental health problems.

Similarly, the impact of addiction can worsen the mental health of the affected person. People dependent on drugs have often been diagnosed with mental disorders, such as anxiety, and depression. They often complain of delusions and hallucinations. At times, the virulent effects of the abuse of alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, sedatives and various opioids can mimic the symptoms of various mental disorders, making it difficult for doctors to identify and distinguish the real disorder.

To increase public awareness and prevention of mental illnesses and substance use disorders, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) observes the National Prevention Week every year during the third week of May. This year, the SAMHSA observed the fifth Prevention Week from May 15 to 21 with the theme – “Strong as One, Stronger Together.”

Mental disorders responsible for nearly 38% of alcohol consumption

According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), released by the SAMHSA, approximately 43.6 million Americans aged 18 and older were afflicted with some kind of mental disorder, 20.2 million adults were reported with some substance abuse disorder and 7.9 million people were diagnosed with comorbid substance abuse and mental health disorders in 2013. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) says that an estimated 46 percent Americans suffer from mental illness and/or substance use disorders in a year.

Pointing at the explicit link between mental illness and use of addictive substances and the extent to which they are interlinked, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) said that mental disorders are responsible for an estimated 38 percent alcohol consumption, 44 percent cocaine use and 40 percent cigarette smoking. The NBER added that people detected with some kind of mental illness, at some point in their lives, are responsible for 69 percent alcohol, 84 percent cocaine and 68 percent nicotine abuse.

The 2015 NSDUH report by SAMHSA found the co-occurrence of mental and substance abuse disorders to be related with poverty. People afflicted with comorbid disorders are at a greater risk of having less incomes than those without any disorder.

Road to recovery

People diagnosed with both mental disorder and substance abuse are in need of treatments that entail therapeutic interventions for both the problems simultaneously. Today, science offers many innovative and evidence-based dual diagnosis treatments that enable better outcomes and improved quality of lives of those concerned. More than the severity of the co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders, what haunts America is that very few people gain access to dual diagnosis treatments. In most of the cases, the patients are treated for only one condition, leaving them vulnerable to a relapse.

Through the Dual Diagnosis Helpline, one can get access to the necessary information required to make an informed decision about various dual diagnosis facilities available in your vicinity. If you or your loved one is seeking help, you may contact our 24/7 helpline at 855-981-6047 or chat online for further expert advice regarding the beast dual diagnosis program.