It is very common for a mental illness to be accompanied by some form of substance abuse. In fact, more than 25 percent of people who have a mental health disorder are also dealing with at least one substance abuse disorder. Either condition can develop first in this situation, which is also known as a dual diagnosis, co-existing condition, or comorbidity. Here are some mental illnesses that are often associated with certain addictions.
Marijuana and Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a mental illness where individuals have a hard time distinguishing between what is real and what is not. It causes people to see and hear things that are not actually there. Many people diagnosed with schizophrenia also have some sort of substance abuse disorder, and many times it is tied to marijuana.
Some scientific studies have speculated that there is a connection between the use of marijuana and the onset of schizophrenia, but these studies have not found conclusive proof of a connection. Individuals with a history of schizophrenia might need to be careful, since evidence shows that marijuana might trigger psychoses in people who already have the condition.
Many of the effects and symptoms of marijuana use and schizophrenia are quite similar, so it makes sense that the two are connected. They both impair memory and the ability to process information. People experiencing schizophrenia are sometimes confused enough. Adding marijuana can make matters worse by making hallucinations more severe and thoughts even cloudier.
Opioids, Benzos, and PTSD
Opioids such as Vicodin and OxyContin are commonly prescribed to treat chronic pain, however, they can be dangerously addictive. When people take more pills than a prescription calls for, their tolerance rises, and users need more drugs to achieve the same results as before. This is where addiction can begin.
Opioids are even more dangerous for people who use them along with antianxiety medications known as benzodiazepines (benzos). Even when people with PTSD use benzos without opioids, they could still run into problems.
PTSD can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety. People might use benzodiazepines to treat anxiety and pain, but people might become addicted to them. Instead of relieving their anxiety, benzos might create more stress and make people feel as if they have lost control, which could lead people to become dependent on them and abuse them further.
While it may seem like a good idea to turn to opioids or benzos as a quick fix for PTSD, there is a chance the pills will only make things worse. After all, both types of drugs can produce anxiety and other mental conditions similar to the effects of PTSD itself.
Alcohol and Depression
Depression is a consistent feeling of sadness that can drastically impact a person’s life in several ways. It can create problems with relationships and jobs, and hurt individuals financially. When these problems start to pile up, people with depression may turn to drinking as a release. They may believe that alcohol can be used as a way to distract them from the bigger problems in life. Instead, continual alcohol abuse only makes depression worse.
It is actually common for depression to arise from alcohol abuse. Depression tends to become more apparent for alcoholics over time, leading to even more drinking to cope with feelings of sadness. The combination of depression and alcohol is often a two-way street because each condition can fuel the other.
Since substance abuse and mental health conditions tend to play into one another, it is extremely beneficial for individuals struggling with both conditions to seek dual diagnosis treatment. Clearing up one individual condition may provide relief for a brief period of time, but treating both at once gives the best chance of a long-term recovery moving forward.
About the Author: Connor Hayes is a graduate of Michigan State University. Currently, he is a writer focusing on the topics of health, addiction, and recovery. In his free time, Connor enjoys watching sports, cooking, and reading.