The relationship between mental disorder and addiction is a complex one, with both contributing to and exacerbating each other in multiple ways. Mental health professionals are now recognizing and acknowledging that addiction is, in essence, a type of mental illness. The first step in understanding this link is to define both addiction and mental disorder.
Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding activities, despite their knowledge of their consequences. This behavior involves difficulties in controlling impulses, changing and making decisions. Mental disorders, on the other hand, are general terms used to refer to a group of conditions that impact mood, thinking, and behavior. Mental illness can refer to any range of mental health issues, such as depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc.
Mental disorder and addiction can both be regarded as diseases, and one can cause the other. For example, a person who is struggling with a mood disorder may choose to self-medicate by using drugs, or alcohol to cope with the symptoms they are experiencing. In a similar manner, a person suffering from an addiction may develop depression or anxiety as a result of their substance or behavioral use disorder.
It’s important to note that mental illness itself does not cause addiction, but its symptoms can increase the risk of an individual developing an addiction. For example, a person with depression may turn to drugs or alcohol in an attempt to self-medicate the depression. Similarly, someone who has an anxiety disorder may find it comforting to drink alcohol or smoke marijuana in order to relax.
It’s also important to be aware of the fact that addiction can lead to mental disorders. Continuous drug and/or alcohol abuse can lead to a decrease in dopamine, a chemical in the brain that is linked to pleasure. This decrease in dopamine can cause a person to become agitated, anxious, or depressed. Furthermore, a person may develop symptoms of a mental illness as a result of their addiction.
Recovery from addiction and mental illness can be a long and difficult journey. However, with the right support, many individuals are able to manage and successfully overcome both their addiction and mental illness.
The most important takeaway from this article is that addiction and mental illness have a link and that recognizing this beneficial in correctly diagnosing and treating the conditions. People with an addiction can benefit from mental health therapy to gain insight into their own condition and to learn coping skills and strategies to help them stay away from addictive substances or behaviors. It is equally important for those with a mental illness to find appropriate treatment to address the underlying issues that may have contributed to their addiction. With the right treatment program and commitment to long-term recovery, it is possible for individuals to overcome addiction and mental illness and live a life of wellness and balance.