Alcohol addiction and co-occurrence of mental illnesses

Alcohol addiction and co-occurrence of mental illnesses

Alcohol abuse is a common problem among people experiencing mental illnesses and there could be various reasons behind this. They might be suffering from anxiety, impulsivity, depression or other mental illnesses that make them turn toward alcohol to find solace. Also, there are many who take to alcohol to ward off their pain or trauma.

Drinking is believed to keep away negative emotions that affect the mental makeup of those facing such problems. This co-existence of alcohol use disorder and mental health condition is a case of dual diagnosis and should be treated as a serious problem.

Alcohol may provide a temporary relief from anxiety, depression, or other such conditions, yet it is important to understand that it will not help in the long run. In fact, it can worsen the situation. The myth that drinking can be a good coping mechanism and will help fight away stress makes people think that they will feel better after a few drinks.

Alcohol alters the way brain functions

Alcohol has a direct effect on our ability to cope with everyday stress and this affects the development of any mental health condition. It works through modifying levels of neurotransmitters, which transfer the signals throughout the body that control an individual’s thought processes, emotions and behavior.

Almost 37 percent people with alcohol addiction also have a mental health issue, it could be anything from anxiety to stress. The risk of an alcohol addict to have a mental illness is almost four times higher than for people who don’t drink.

Different ways in which alcohol use and mental illness might co-occur:

Alcohol abuse results in mental illness: Alcohol addiction leads to mental illness through the effects of alcohol that may happen during addiction and also while the person is going through withdrawal. Also, the feelings stemming from alcohol use pave way for feelings of depression and anxiety, including aggressive feelings involving fights and arguments.

Symptoms of one disorder may trigger the other: Often, alcohol can create mental health symptoms like paranoia, delusions or depression when the person is under the sway of the drug. When these symptoms last even after the drugs wear off, it can indicate a co-occurring mental health disorder. People with mental illness use alcohol to avoid the side-effects of medication.

Alcohol use and mental illness are unrelated: Even in the absence of relation between the two, these two disorder may just happen to co-occur by chance. These will still end up influencing each other over time.

Seeking help

Mental illness and alcohol can worsen the condition of each other and this can negatively affect an individual’s health. Seeing a healthcare expert is the only way to start if you would like to find out about treatment options available to you. Integrated treatments that address both alcohol use and mental illness are generally recommended for people with co-occurring disorders.

A cautious assessment will help find out the existence of both the disorders, but it might be overly difficult as most of the symptoms of one disorder can mimic the symptoms of the other. Therapists and family need to work in tandem to find methods to integrate the treatment and motivate the patient. A consistent care from caregivers and family may help a comorbid patient to cope with depression and anxiety associated with the disease. Scientists are continuously working on new methods and means to tackle dual diagnosis.

If you or your loved one is struggling to get rid of the twin disorders of depression or any other mental disorder, and some form of substance abuse and looking for dual diagnosis help, you may reach out to the Dual Diagnosis Helpline. Call at our 24/7 helpline number (855) 981-6047 or chat online with an expert.