According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, as much as 47 percent of people suffering with substance abuse disorder also deal with mental illness.
The Mental Health and Substance Abuse Connection
There is a reason people become addicted to substances. The reasons are as unique as human DNA, but they are the core issues behind addictions.
Many addictive substances are depressants and known to cause depression. Some examples of depressants people abuse are:
- Sleeping pills
Other substances, stimulants, are known to cause anxiety. Some examples of stimulants people commonly abuse are:
All drugs of abuse cause problems for people, not just in lifestyle and relationships, but also psychologically. And the longer a person uses substances, the worse the mental health symptoms can become. Abused long enough, substances are apt to cause very serious mental health problems like schizophrenia.
If your family’s lives are becoming chaotic or unmanageable, it is time to seek help with an intervention for mental illness. Mental health interventions start the process of healing for the individual who has a mental health issue, as well as for his or her family.
It is easy to overlook the signs of dual diagnosis, but there comes a time when you recognize your family needs help and you can’t do this alone.
Self-Medicating Because of Mental Health Disorders
Sometimes it’s hard to know which came first, the mental health disorder or the substance abuse. People who are in psychological pain often seek solace with alcohol and drugs. If just to quiet their minds for a moment, the escape that comes with substance use feels good.
The cycle of PAIN → PLEASURE → ADDICTION → PAIN creeps up slowly and inconspicuously. Self-medicating with drugs and alcohol heaps another problem on top of a difficult situation. Now there are two problems to deal with.
Dual Diagnosis: One Exacerbates the Other
Although it may be difficult to determine which disorder came first, the mental health disorder or the substance abuse disorder, we do know that each one of these co-occurring disorders exacerbates the other. Because of the interconnectedness in dual diagnosis, these psychological issues feed off each other.
Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders. It is pervasive, it hurts and it robs its victims of life. The pain of depression motivates many to seek relief through alcohol and drugs. Unwittingly, people become even more depressed when using depressants.
Sometimes psychiatrists deliberate over how to diagnose patients in rehab. Is a patient depressed or does she merely have residual alcohol in her system? Did a patient abuse prescription drugs because he was suffering from bipolar disorder, or did he develop bipolarism because he abused prescriptions?
Ultimately, origin and causality are not as important as ensuring the patient receives concurrent treatment for both disorders. Once a person goes through the detoxification process and stays clean and sober for several weeks, then experts can deliver more accurate psychological diagnoses.
The Importance of Treating Dual Diagnosis Simultaneously
Still, a relatively new concept, treating dual diagnosis at the same time has been shown to be the most successful approach for lasting recovery. In times past, patients had to be treated for their addiction first and later go through treatment for their mental health issues. However, research has shown that the interwoven nature of both co-occurring disorders makes them more responsive to simultaneous therapy.
When someone enters rehab, there is so much they can learn about getting sober, who they are and who they want to become. Addressing a patient’s thoughts, emotions and behaviors with therapy, at the same time as addressing their addiction, only makes sense. And put simply, it works.
Dual Diagnosis Intervention: The First Step
The first step toward getting healthy mentally and free from substance abuse is an intervention. Part and parcel of mental health disorders come the inability to function at 100 percent cognitively, which impedes decision-making abilities. So, when a loved one says they don’t have a problem or they don’t want to go to rehab, we have to remember that they may not be capable of making the best decisions at the time.
We need families for support. And during the trying times of addiction and mental health problems, we need our families to be there with supportiveness and clearly defined roles.
Mental Health Crisis Intervention
What families should do if they suspect their loved one struggles with dual diagnosis:
- Get a professional interventionist to help prepare and facilitate an intervention for substance abuse and mental health issues.
- Focus on loving and supporting their family member.
- Write loving and honest letters to read at the intervention.
- Work together with a professional to hammer out your role in the intervention. Emotions often run high during interventions.
- Treat the person with respect and not stigmatically.
Success in recovery is heavily influenced by the support a person receives from his or her friends and family. All of life’s challenges are more aptly met when our circle of friends and loved ones gather around us. Addiction and mental illness are some of the toughest challenges we face as humans, all the more necessary to rally the circle.
Family Is First in Recovery
Intervention Helpline puts the family first in all that we do. When one member of the family suffers, the whole family suffers. The whole family reaps the consequences of each of its members’ issues and decisions.
Intervention Helpline understands that addiction and mental health problems are family problems.
The family unit can enable its loved one to continue in harmful behaviors, or it can come together in love and take a stand for what is good and right for the sake of the family and all its members.
Intervention Helpline wants to help your family heal. We bring our professional interventionists to you. We are here to make a difference in the lives of those suffering from drug abuse, alcoholism, mental health issues or a combination thereof. Let us help you be the change your family needs.
Learn More About Family Roles in Interventions