Mental Illness and Addiction: The Basics

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Mental illness and addiction often go hand in hand, leaving many people at risk without even realizing it. The general lack of education on mental illness leaves people unknowingly putting themselves in harm’s way.

If you or a loved one is struggling with either a mental health disorder or an addiction, it is very important to understand the connection between the two, symptoms of each, and what you can do to prevent or treat each condition. Here is just a little basic information on addiction, mental illness, and how they connect.

Why Do Those with Mental Illness Struggle with Addiction?

People with a mental disorder are much more likely to develop an addiction than the rest of the population. Certain mental illnesses are more prone to addiction than others, but anyone can experience this heightened risk. The most common cause of addiction among those with mental illness is self-medication.

People who are not receiving adequate treatment tend to seek out their own methods for controlling the symptoms of their illness. Self-medicating with addictive substances such as alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drugs is a very common way people attempt to cope with their illness. As the self-medicating continues, the symptoms grow worse, leading them to abuse substances with increasing frequency. This is how an addiction develops.

Can Addiction Cause Mental Illness?

While it is less likely that an addiction will cause a full-blown mental illness, many people with addictions will experience the symptoms of a mental illness. Some of the more common symptoms include anxiety, paranoia, and depression.

However, it is certainly possible for a drug-induced mental illness to develop. As these symptoms appear, the individual may then use their addiction to manage the newly developed symptoms, entering the vicious circle. Furthermore, an addiction is considered a mental illness itself and is known to increase the risk of suicide.

What Can Be Done?

Treatment is the most effective way for you or a loved one to overcome your mental challenges. If you have a mental illness that is currently going untreated, seek help. The best way for you to avoid addiction and its consequences is to receive proper treatment and avoid any perceived need to self-medicate.

If you have an addiction, you may be at risk for developing a mental illness on top of the effects addiction will have on your life. By seeking treatment, you can avoid the symptoms of mental illness and prevent your addiction from growing worse. With the threat of suicidal thoughts and other such severe symptoms, do not wait. Seek help immediately.

Whether a person has an addiction or a mental illness, they are likely to experience the other as time goes on. Mental illness too often leads to an addiction as well as worsened mental condition while an addiction can be the trigger that leads to either symptoms of mental illness or an actual disorder. Both situations can be rectified with treatment.

However, the first step is education. You cannot help yourself or others if you have limited knowledge of the connection between mental illness and its connection to addiction. By simply reading this article, you are making progress. From here, the next step is getting help from a trained professional.

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Steve Johnson is a pre-med student, who loves providing reliable health and medical resources. He knows how difficult it can be to sift through health info on the web, and wants to change that. Steve created Public Health Library to help people find reputable information on health topics.

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