The Connection Between Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorder

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), there is a major connection between the presence of mental illness and substance use. The combination of both mental health disorders and substance use problems is referred to as a co-occurring disorder and is also sometimes referred to as a dual diagnosis. Co-occurring disorders can be difficult to diagnose, given that the symptoms of addiction can mask the signs of mental illness and vice versa. If you or a loved one is struggling with mental illness and substance use, now is the time to take the first steps toward reclaiming your life through treatment.

Intertwining Issues

Individuals who are diagnosed with mental health disorders tend to use substances like drugs or alcohol to cope with the symptoms of their disorder. For example, those who feel anxious might take something to feel calm. Unfortunately, using drugs and alcohol fails to address the mental health disorder and, instead, prevents the individual from developing proper coping skills and having satisfying relationships. Additionally, if one is trying to treat a mental health disorder with medication, the use of alcohol could interfere with it and aggravate the problem.

Warning Signs of Co-Occurring Disorder

The warning signs of a co-occurring disorder tend to vary between individuals and depends on the type of substance that is being used as well as the severity of the mental health disorder. Below are some of the most common symptoms of a dual diagnosis:

  • A sudden change in one’s overall behavior
  • Difficulty managing everyday tasks and responsibilities
  • Avoiding events or other social activities that one used to enjoy
  • Neglecting one’s health and hygiene
  • Disillusioned thinking
  • Refusal to seek or agree to receiving treatment
  • Poor impulse control
  • Problems with managing one’s finances
  • Poor performance at school or work

Common Mental Health Issues Linked to Addiction

Any mental health disorder can co-occur with addiction. However, some mental health disorders are much more common than others. They include:

  • Attention-deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Schizophrenia

Those who are diagnosed with a mental health disorder are generally twice more likely than the general population to suffer from a substance use disorder. Those who use drugs and alcohol are also likely to develop co-occurring behavioral or mental health disorders.

Rehab Treatment Programs in New Jersey

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, now is the time to take the appropriate steps toward living a healthier, happier life that is free of substance use. At Turning Point in New Jersey, we offer a variety of alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs, which are all based on the client placement criteria established by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).

Reclaim your life today and contact our facility at (973) 380-0905 to learn more about how we can help you.


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  • Helping Nearly 4,000 Patients A Year
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