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How to Deal with Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues

If you have both addiction and mental health issues like bipolar disorder, depression or anxiety, you are said to have a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder. Dealing with drug or alcohol addiction can be tough, and it’s even harder when you are battling with mental health issues too. Luckily, there’s hope. There are numerous steps and treatments that you can take to help you recover. With proper support, treatment, and self-help, you can overcome a dual diagnosis and resume your normal life.

A report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that roughly half of the people with critical mental issues are affected by addiction. 53% of drug abusers and 37% of alcohol abusers also have at least one severe mental disorder. Of the entire group established to be mentally sick, 29% abuse either drugs or alcohol.

If this report is anything to go by, there is a strong connection between mental health and substance abuse. Unfortunately, when not addressed, mental health and addiction issues only get worse. The best approach, therefore, is to get addiction and mental health services in Florida as soon as you can.

How to tell you to have an addiction and co-occurring mental disorder

It can be hard to determine whether you have drug or alcohol addiction and co-occurring mental disorder – you’ll need time to figure out what might be an addiction problem and what might be a mental disorder. The signs and symptoms differ depending on the kind of addiction and psychological issue. For instance, signs of marijuana abuse and depression could vary from signs of alcohol abuse and schizophrenia. But even so, some common signs may point out dual diagnosis:

  • You use drugs or alcohol to deal with unpleasant feelings or memories, to face frightening situations, to control your moods’ intensity or pain or to stay focused
  • You establish a connection between your mental disorder and addiction – like you feel depressed when drinking
  • You have a family member who’s struggled with either addiction or mental health
  • You have a history of abuse or unresolved trauma
  • You feel anxious or depressed even when you’re sober
  • You’ve previously gone through mental health or addiction treatment – or your mental health issue treatment failed because of drug abuse complication or vice versa

Treatment for mental health and substance abuse problems

Co-occurring disorders are better addressed with an integrated approach – where both mental disorder and addiction are treated simultaneously. This is irrespective of which one came first. It’s best to have both disorders treated by the same doctor or team. Based on your specific problem:

Treatment for your addiction may include detox, behavioral therapy, managing of withdrawal symptoms and support groups.

Treatment for your mental disorder may include medication, lifestyle changes, group or individual counseling and peer support.


  • There’s always hope
  • It’s crucial to get and stay sober throughout treatment
  • Slips and setbacks, like a relapse, happen
  • Peer support can help

Finding the right program

Ensure the program is adequately accredited and licensed, and that they used treatment methods that are supported by research. It’s also advisable to find one that offers aftercare program to help curb relapse. Above all, the program should have experience dealing with mental disorders like yours.

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