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What happens when a person suffers from mental illness along with addiction?
Dual Diagnosis - Freedom From Addiction

What happens when a person suffers from mental illness along with addiction?


There are connections between mental disorders and substance abuse. Mental illness and addiction often co-occur. The term dual diagnosis is the term used when someone simultaneously experiences a mental illness and a substance abuse problem. There are times when mental disorders precede addiction and make people more vulnerable to addiction. Furthermore, there are other instances where substance abuse can trigger or even exacerbate mental disorders.

People with mental disorders often self-medicate as a way to manage their symptoms and what they are experiencing/feeling. Unfortunately, if this helps it is in the short-term, and will likely lead to a host other problems.

Having one [mental illness, substance abuse, or dependence] may trigger the other. Substance abuse can affect a person’s mood, thoughts, behavior, and even brain chemistry thus leading to mental health problems.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) “About a third of all people experiencing mental illnesses and about half of people living with severe mental illnesses also experience substance abuse. These statistics are mirrored in the substance abuse community, where about a third of all alcohol abusers and more than half of all drug abusers report experiencing a mental illness.”

It is important to address the underlying issues in order to understand what leads to a person’s use and any mental health issues that preceded use, or vice versa. Treating the whole person including the mental disorders and substance abuse and any other variables that contributed to using and symptoms is the key to successful treatment.

* All responses provided by a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

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