What is the Connection Between Mental Illness and Substance Abuse?

Mental illness and substance abuse go hand and hand. Many people who struggle with mental illness tend to gravitate towards substance abuse, falling deep into the perils of addiction and despair. However, what is the nature of the connection between mental illness and substance abuse? Alvarado Parkway Institute is a behavioral health system in San Diego that offers dual diagnosis treatment for those suffering from mental illness and substance abuse issues, making them experts on the connection between mental illness and substance abuse. Read on to learn about the connection between mental illness and substance abuse, or give us a call at (619) 485-1432 to begin treatment.

The Stats on Mental Illness and Substance Abuse

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) conducted a study to try to get some actual data on the connection between mental illness and substance abuse. They looked at the total amount of alcohol, cocaine, and cigarettes consumed and tried to find out how much of that consumption was done by people who have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder. The numbers are staggering.

  • 69 percent of all alcohol was consumed by individuals with a mental health disorder

  • 84 percent of all cocaine was consumed by individuals with a mental health disorder

  • 68 percent of all cigarettes were consumed by individuals with a mental health disorder

Why are Mental Illness and Substance Abuse Connected?

The numbers make it clear that there is a link between mental illness and substance abuse, but what is the cause of this link? Below you can find the two main reasons for the link.

Self-Medicating for Mental Illness

The first and strongest reason for the link between mental illness and substance abuse is that many individuals with mental health disorders do not have access to or choose not to use the medication they need. Instead, they choose to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, hoping to lessen the effects of the symptoms of their mental illness by getting drunk or high. Drugs and alcohol do nothing to lessen the symptoms, and in many cases can make things worse.

Substances Can Cause Paranoia, Delusions or Depression

In some cases, substance abuse can create or exacerbate mental health issues. Substances can cause paranoia, delusions, or depression while under the influence of the drug, and if you continue to experience these symptoms while no longer under the influence of the drug it is indicative of a mental health issue. It really is a two-way street when it comes to substance abuse and mental illness, as both work together to make things worse for those afflicted.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment at Alvarado Parkway Institute

If you suffer from a mental illness and substance abuse, it is essential to get treatment as soon as possible. There is a treatment method called dual diagnosis treatment that aims to treat both addiction and mental health disorders, working to overcome both obstacles. Alvarado Parkway Institute in San Diego offers dual diagnosis treatment at our San Diego location. If you are interested in learning more or need help, contact us today by calling (619) 485-1432.