Are you suffering from addiction and can’t pin-point the reason you can’t stop using? There’s a good chance you may be suffering from an underlying condition, such as a mental health disorder, that may influence your addiction. This problem is called a “dual diagnosis” and it can feel like an impossible maze to navigate on your own.

Don’t despair: there’s always hope for anyone with the strength and drive to fight their addiction. And thankfully, it’s possible to treat these two problems concurrently, eliminate their negative feedback loop, and beat both your mental health problem and your addiction concerns. You deserve to know how you can gain that kind of sobriety.

The Statistics Are Staggering

If you are suffering from addiction, the chance that you also suffer from a mental health disorder is high. For example, the National Bureau of Economic Research found that people with underlying mental health disorders were responsible for the use of 38 percent of all alcohol, 44 percent of all cocaine, and 40 percent of all cigarettes in the nation.

Getting to the underlying issues_graphic-04In one sense, these numbers are incredibly depressing because they indicate that a large number of people are using substances to self-medicate. However, you can use these statistics as a beacon of hope. After all, you aren’t alone in your addiction: there are millions of people just like you across the nation who are suffering from addiction and mental health disorders.

Remember, though, that dual diagnosis doesn’t necessarily indicate only one mental health problem. In fact, you may suffer from multiple concerns (such as anxiety and depression) and both of them can contribute to drug addiction. That’s why it’s important to dig deep into yourself and root out these negative influences.

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Why Does This Connection Exist?

There are a lot of reasons why people with mental health disorders turn to drug addiction. This is what makes addiction so complex: influences vary wildly and there is no singular cause of an addiction or an “addictive personality.” Some of the most common behaviors caused by mental health disorders that contribute to addiction include:

  • Lack of impulse control
  • Desire to create a personal social group
  • Severe depression
  • Emotional and physical pain
  • Paranoia or severe anxiety
  • Self-medication

The last point is particularly poignant for many people as the concept of self-medication explains so much about addictive behaviors. Simply put, people use drugs and alcohol to kill the emotional and even physical pain caused by their mental health disorders. The temporary relief that these substances cause make it difficult for users to stop using.

Perhaps you’ve experienced this in your life when you tried to quit. Maybe you got sick of using, stopped, and suddenly felt anxious and upset. A sudden flood of negative emotions overtook your self-control and forced you to start using again. And sadly, once you started using again, the symptoms of your anxiety and depression disappeared.

Getting to the underlying issues_waveThis type of behavior is understandable (who doesn’t want to feel happy and safe?), but unfortunate and it’s been observed in millions of addicts. A study by Edward J. Khantziak entitled “The Self-Medication Hypothesis Of Substance Use Disorders” found that people with a wide range of disorders (including post-traumatic stress disorder and seven schizophrenia) used substances to self-medicate.

Getting To The Bottom Of The Problem

Like anyone else, you probably know yourself better than anyone. You know what makes you tick and where your problems are originating from. Or do you? Self-diagnosis of mental health disorders is often a problematic process because many people lack a thorough understanding of various psychological problems. And if you are currently using substances, there’s a good chance your personal judgment may be off.

That said, it’s still worth setting aside a few minutes to take stock of your symptoms. While you shouldn’t use self-diagnosis as a catchall for finding your underlying concerns, you can use it to help guide a professional counselor towards a healthy diagnosis.

Do you suffer from any of the following symptoms?

  • Anxiety at minor inconveniences
  • Unexplained and violent mood swings
  • A downbeat world view
  • Difficulty communicating with others
  • Severe anger control problems
  • Inability to empathize or relate to other people’s problems
  • Obsession with certain ideas or concepts
  • Mistrust of those around you
  • Violent thoughts that feel hard to control
  • Difficulty controlling strange impulses
  • Recurring nightmares of a traumatic experience
  • Lack of emotions

All of these symptoms are indicative of some type of mental health disorder. For example, many people who experience a death feel downbeat and have nightmares about the trauma of watching a loved one die. They may be suffering from the post-traumatic stress disorder. However, the only way to be sure is to get a professional analysis.

The hardest part of the process is gaining the courage and honesty required to help a professional identify these problems. You may feel the impulse to explain away these problems or to consider them normal to most people. Sadly, that’s not the case. Thankfully, it’s possible to gain this courage as long as you’re willing to look at the end result: a life without drug addiction.

Treating These Problems Concurrently

Once you’ve been diagnosed with specific mental health disorders, you can make the commitment to a drug rehabilitation program that treats co-occurring disorders. The treatment method takes a multi-pronged approach by treating mental health disorders and addiction at the same time. Remember that drug addiction may worsen your mental health, which makes treating them at the same time so crucial.

Getting to the underlying issues_detoxA typical drug rehabilitation program will involve:

  • Chemical detoxification, if needed
  • Dietary changes to implement stronger health
  • Treatment for any physical problems that plague your body
  • Various behavior modification techniques
  • Learning new coping mechanisms for cravings and relapse

While this is occurring, you will also undergo serious psychological counseling to help identify your mental health problems. You and your psychiatrist will delve into why these problems influence the severity of your addiction and how you can move past them. You are likely to undergo personal, family, and group counseling to learn new methods of coping with the problems caused by your mental health.

The intriguing thing that will happen is that you’ll slowly start finding confidence in yourself again. You’ll believe in your ability to fight off addiction and will learn how to fight off symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other problems.

You may be diagnosed medicine to take care of the most severe symptoms, but the biggest takeaway is that you’ll gain the strength and skill to beat back addiction and stay strong, stable, and sober for the rest of your life.

Do You Have Any More Questions?

Getting the treatment you need is a complex process that often requires difficult personal reflection and asking yourself a lot of difficult questions. Sometimes, it may require a hand to hold and a friendly ear to listen. That’s why we’re here. At, we can give you the helpful guidance you need to live a life free of addiction and the mental health problems that have plagued your life. We believe in you and know that, with a little help, you’ll learn to do the same. Contact us today.

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