Addiction impairs a person’s judgment and at times it is also associated with certain mental illnesses. According to a study by the King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry and the University of Bristol, domestic violence is more common in adults diagnosed with a mental disorder. Thus, substance abuse, mental illness and violence are intricately woven. Various studies say that “violence is not the causal effect of substance abuse, but a co-occurring disorder arising out of mental illness.”
Treating addiction first may help reduce violent acts
According to a report published on healthday.com in October 2014, health professionals treating a dual diagnosis patient – an addict with a severe mental illness – are often not sure about the problem that needs to be tackled first to reduce the risk of violence.
A 2014 study by the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions suggested that treating substance abuse in patients who are also suffering from severe mental illnesses reduces their chance to get violent. However, this statement was against the common belief that treating symptoms of mental illness in addicts would help in decreasing the risk of violence in them.
Co-author Clara Bradizza said, “Our findings suggest that treatment attendance is very important for these individuals and treatment programs should include interventions that are likely to decrease substance abuse, as this may provide the additional benefit of reducing the risk of later aggression among dual-diagnosis patients.”
Some of the mental disorders associated with a dual diagnosis patients are:
- Anxiety disorders
- Personality disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Eating disorders (e.g., anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa)
Another 2015 study by the China Medical University, Taiwan revealed that the onset of mental illness in a person’s earlier life poses risk for him to suffer from substance-related disorders later. The study said that treatment programs for substance use and abuse should focus more on adolescents or young adults with mental illness to prevent them from taking to addiction later in life.
Dual diagnosis and domestic violence are interlinked
When dual diagnosis patients get violent, they indulge in domestic violence. Citing the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) said that about two-third of victims facing violence by current or former partner report that the perpetrator was drunk. Such family problems create an unhealthy situation at home and brings in all sorts of financial and legal woes. The problem is not limited to any gender, age or social strata. They even indulge in anti-social activities to gain money for their habits.
Domestic violence affects not only the spouse, but even the children. It leaves scars on young minds for life. As per NCADD website, a Massachusetts study stated that children witnessing abuse at home were 50 percent more likely to take up alcohol and/or drugs in future.
A study by the U.S. Department of Justice also found that almost 40 percent of violent crimes take place under the influence of alcohol. Despite addiction being such a grave problem, only one in 10 people with addiction reports to get any sort of treatment at all, compared to almost 70 percent of people with hypertension, diabetes and other ailments receiving treatment.
It is important to note that mental illness is different for everybody. Two individuals with same diagnosis may have completely different experiences. To recognize dual diagnosis, it needs to be seen in the light of past history and co-occurring disorders of the individual. In most cases, addicts with anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, and depression suffer from mental illness. People suffering from dual diagnosis have certain things in common. These include:
- Estrangement and lack of family support
- Extremely emotional
- Homelessness, joblessness
- Severe psychiatric symptoms
- Frequent hospitalization
Unfortunately, even when an individual starts undergoing an addiction treatment program, mental illness is not given due attention and usually takes a backseat in the process.
Road to Recovery
A constructive way to break the vicious circle of addiction and violence is to work towards building healthy communities by adopting an inclusive methodology. The society needs to bridge the existing gap between mental health system and addiction treatment.
If you or your loved one is struggling with dual diagnosis that needs medical intervention, call at the Dual Diagnosis Helpline number 855-981-6047. Our representatives can make the task of finding the right dual diagnosis help easier.