Since 1949, May has been set aside as Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States. This is a time to draw attention to conditions that affect tens of millions of Americans. Addiction, properly called Substance Use Disorder (SUD), is a legitimate medical illness, as defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5).
There are approximately 23 million Americans who are currently struggling with an SUD such as alcoholism, the misuse of prescription medications, or the abuse of illegal street drugs. Unfortunately, only about 1 in 9 actually receive the specialized care they need.
As part of the observing mental health awareness month, let’s look at the link between substance abuse and other common mental or emotional disorders.
Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorders
Overall, about half of those people who struggle with a mental illness also have a comorbid, SUD and vice versa.
- Anxiety – Roughly 1 in 3 people with anxiety also abuse drugs or alcohol, and the relationship is equally reciprocal.
- Depression – Almost 2 in 3 substance abusers experience major depression.
- PTSD – Up to 70% of people in addiction treatment struggle with PTSD.
- Bipolar Disorder – 60% of individuals with BPD abuse drugs or alcohol at some point.
- Eating Disorders – People with eating disorders abuse substances at a rate that is five times that of the general population.
- Schizophrenia – Teenagers who engage in heavy marijuana use at age 15 or younger have a risk of schizophrenia that is 700% higher than normal. In fact, if they have a family history of schizophrenia, that elevated risk rises to 1000%.
Why the Connection between Addiction and Mental Illness?
There are several theories why addiction and mental illness co-occur so frequently:
- Shared genetic vulnerabilities
- Poor coping skills
But whatever the true reasons, the real issue is the need for comprehensive care. According to the substance abuse and mental health services administration, there are over 9 million Americans who currently have a dual diagnosis of SUD and at least one other mental condition.
But fewer than 1 in 8 whatever receive the proper specialized treatment for both disorders.
Lasting Recovery, one of the top addiction treatment centers in Southern California, specializes in the evidence-based treatment of dual diagnosis.
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