Addiction and Mental Health Conditions: Does It Matter Which Came First?

Addiction and Mental Health Conditions: Does It Matter Which Came First?

When diagnosing and treating drug addiction, doctors and therapist must determine if there are any underlying mental illnesses that are contributing to or causing the problem. If a mental illness is discovered it is called a Dual Diagnosis. A Dual Diagnosis requires simultaneous treatment of both the mental illness and the drug addiction.

When both conditions are treated at the same time, the likelihood of rehab success is greatly increased. Often the person seeking treatment for an addiction already has a mental illness diagnosis and is currently, or has in the past, received treatment for a mental illness. When this is the case, the addiction is often a result of an attempt to manage a mental illness with more medications at higher dosages that are not prescribed by a mental health professional. Whether the mental illness comes first or the addiction, the key to recovery is getting proper treatment that adequately addresses both issues.

Mental Illness

Mental illnesses are caused by chemical imbalances within the brain. These chemical imbalances can be the result of trauma, illness, hormonal changes and a genetic predisposition to mental illness. In any case, getting the right treatment for mental illness can prevent complications like drug addiction.

But sometimes the person who suffers from mental illness uses his or her medication in ways not prescribed by his physician or adds medications to help deal with increasing symptoms. When this happens, the dangers of drug addiction are increased. Because the brain becomes dependent on the medication to help control the symptoms of the mental illness, the person may feel he needs more of the drug because he is not getting the same level of relief. This often leads to adding other substances, like over-the-counter sleep aids and alcohol.

When all of these medications are combined, the result can be a devastating addiction that requires professional treatment. Many people struggle with addiction to prescription pain relievers, and even those with the best intentions can have times when the struggle is very real. That’s why contacting your doctor before changing your dose or adding another medicine is so important.

Drug Addiction

Understanding the cause of your drug addiction is an important step in the recovery process. Understanding your addiction means recognizing any personal or family history of mental illness. By identifying yours or your family members’ addiction struggles your doctor or therapist can help determine the cause of your addiction. You may be the first in your family to deal with addiction. If this is the case, it is possible that mental illness is not the culprit. But finding out and understanding your tendencies toward addiction can help your recovery and prevent future relapse.