Mental Health and Addiction: Why They Happen & How Should They Be Treated? Guest post by Patrick Bailey

People who have issues with substance abuse also commonly face mental health troubles. When people receive treatment, addressing only one of these issues is not satisfactory, since both conditions influence each another.

Dual diagnosis programs are designed to treat both mental health and substance abuse disorders, helping clients change their lives for the better.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse

Mental health and substance abuse go hand in hand. When people have both at the same time, it is sometimes known as a dual diagnosis or a co-occurring disorder.

The connection between the two is undeniable. Because of this, it is important to receive treatment for both issues to ensure recovery.

So, what is the common connection between co-occurring disorders? Do mental health issues cause substance abuse problems or is it the other way around?

Such questions are not as simple to answer as one would think. A connection between mental health and substance abuse can occur for a number of reasons. While the two often influence each another, there is no easy way to determine if one is more of an issue than the other.

What we do know is that substance abuse can often occur when people attempt to self-treat mental health issues. On the other hand, substance abuse has the potential to make symptoms of mental health issues worse, or even increase a person’s risk of developing a mental health disorder.

Because substance abuse and mental health are so closely connected, it is important that both are addressed when receiving treatment. Thankfully, there are programs that treat dual diagnosis and co-occurring disorders.

Signs of Substance Abuse

There are a number of different signs and symptoms that may indicate whether someone is struggling with substance abuse. Symptoms of drug use vary depending upon the substance being abused and other factors, though there are a number of common symptoms of drug use.

Symptoms of drug use can be physical, mental, or behavioral.

Physical symptoms of substance abuse include:

  • Decline in personal hygiene
  • Blackouts
  • Extreme changes in sleep
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Changes in energy levels

Mental or behavioral signs of substance abuse include:

  • Changes in mood or moods that quickly change
  • New groups of friends
  • Difficulties with school or work
  • Legal issues
  • Signs of substance abuse can differ from person to person.

The signs may also change if people have different co-occurring disorders.

Common Co-Occurring Disorders and Their Symptoms

Many different co-occurring disorders can occur alongside substance abuse. Their symptoms range in type and severity, though they all have the potential to contribute to a substance abuse disorder.

  • Depression: Depression is a disorder that affects millions of people around the world. Symptoms of depression include feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, a loss of interest in daily activities, and a loss of energy. People who deal with depression sometimes consume drugs or alcohol to treat their pain, resulting in substance abuse issues.
  • Anxiety: Another disorder that commonly occurs with substance abuse is anxiety. Symptoms of anxiety include feelings of restlessness, panic, worry, and stress. People who have anxiety may experience shortness of breath, muscle tension, dizziness, and trembling.
  • Bipolar disorder: Increased energy, a decreased need for sleep, euphoria, irritability, racing thoughts, and impulsivity are symptoms of the manic state of bipolar disorder. In the depressive state of the disorder, people may feel sad, have less energy, and experience other symptoms of depression.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): People who have PTSD may experience panic attacks, flashbacks, and nightmares. People may use drugs and alcohol to attempt to numb the pain caused by these experiences and the trauma that caused them.

Other mental health issues that may influence substance abuse include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia, borderline personality disorder (BPD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and schizophrenia.

Treatment Options

There are a number of different treatment options for people with substance abuse issues. When considering treatment, people with mental health issues may want to consider dual diagnosis rehab programs.

Dual diagnosis treatment is available through both outpatient and inpatient treatment programs, though for many people with addiction, inpatient programs are recommended. Inpatient programs provide around-the-clock care and allow people to focus on their recoveries with fewer distractions.

The detoxification (detox) process occurs before dual diagnosis treatment. During detox, clients receive treatment under medical supervision to remove drugs and alcohol from their bodies. Doctors are present to address any issues that may occur, such as withdrawal symptoms.

Detox may be medically assisted, meaning medications are used to help throughout the detox process. The medications may be prescribed for mental health concerns or to lessen the symptoms of withdrawal.

After detox, clients enter dual diagnosis treatment for their substance abuse and mental health issues. Clients address their issues through one-on-one therapy, group therapy, and other options, depending on their programs.

Various rehabilitation programs also offer aftercare services. After graduating from rehab programs, clients receive additional therapy and services to help them readjust to their daily lives.


For people facing substance abuse and mental health issues, attending rehabilitation programs may be very helpful. Dual diagnosis programs are designed for those who have both substance abuse issues and mental health disorders. The programs aim to improve clients’ mental well-being and help them kick their addictions.


Dual Diagnosis

Substance Abuse and Depression

Signs of Drug Use


Understanding PTSD and Substance Use

Substance Use and Mental Health

Patrick Bailey is a Freelance writer passionate about mental health issues. You can find him at

Wesley Cullen Davidson

Wesley Cullen Davidson

Wesley Cullen Davidson is an award-winning freelance writer and journalist specializing in parenting. Currently, she is targeting her writing about recovery to parents whose children have substance abuse disorders.

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