Addiction and mental health problems are often closely linked. It’s very common for people with a substance use disorder such as drug addiction or alcoholism to also suffer from a range of psychiatric or mood disorders, including:
- Bipolar disorder
- Anxiety and fear disorders
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Panic disorder
- Personality disorders
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
These mental health issues in people with addiction are referred to as dual disorders.
With multiple board-certified psychiatrists on staff, Positive Sobriety Institute has the expertise to meet all of our patient’s mental health needs. Our experts conduct a thorough assessment at the outset of treatment to ensure patients receive the correct diagnosis. Our multidisciplinary team then integrates treatment for mental health disorders with the addiction recovery plan. After addiction treatment concludes, we provide ongoing support to help patients maintain sobriety and manage dual disorders through our Continuing Care program, for as long as patients need it.
Integrating Addiction and Dual Disorders Treatment
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about one-third of those who abuse alcohol and more than half of those addicted to drugs have at least one serious mental illness. Of those diagnosed with a mental illness, about one in three also abuse either alcohol or drugs.
Years ago, treatment for addiction and treatment for psychiatric or mood disorders were separate endeavors. Today, experts at the best addiction treatment centers, including Positive Sobriety Institute, understand that substance use disorders and mental health disorders are often deeply intertwined.
Giving patients the best chances of successfully overcoming addiction means also helping patients manage or overcome co-occurring disorders that can lead to relapse by compromising their overall physical and mental well-being. By integrating addiction rehab with mental health care, patients address all of the issues that are contributing to their addiction or that have the potential to impact their recovery, and create the conditions that lay the groundwork for many years of sobriety and health.
The Importance of Accurate Assessments
Mental health conditions impact the brain. Substances such as drug and alcohol act on the brain. When drugs and alcohol are combined with pre-existing mental health problems, the substance use can significantly impact the progression and symptoms of mental health conditions.
Drugs and alcohol can worsen symptoms of mental health problems by interfering with medications such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications and mood stabilizers. Drug and alcohol use can also interfere with sleep and daily routines, which can also exacerbate symptoms or make it more difficult for patients to manage mental health disorders. Research also indicates that alcohol and drug abuse can increase symptoms of mental illness or trigger new symptoms in those who are predisposed.
At the same time, drug and alcohol use can also mask symptoms of underlying mental health conditions. When a person detoxes from drugs and alcohol, symptoms that were hidden or mistaken for behavior caused by intoxication or drug use may become more apparent.
At Positive Sobriety Institute, our team of multidisciplinary experts, led by board-certified psychiatrists in consultation with our experienced nurse practitioners, therapists and counselors, carefully and thoroughly assess each patient to determine any and all behavioral, personality, health and social issues. Through a careful history and exam, our team works to determine which issues are due to substance use and which can be attributed to underlying mental health conditions. Working in collaboration with an internal medicine physician, our psychiatrists also consider possible neurological or other conditions that may mimic addiction or mental health disorders. When our assessment indicates, our team refers patients and consults with neurologists and other specialists at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
We then work closely with patients to treat their addiction, deal with the mental health condition, manage medications and monitor progress to ensure that each patient receives care that is tailored specifically to them, with their unique needs and challenges taken into account.
Prevalence of Dual Disorders Among Professionals
It’s sometimes assumed that those who have achieved success in the work lives or hold a high status in their communities are immune to addictive disorders. In reality, demanding jobs come with high levels of stress, prompting some professionals to turn to mood-altering substances to relieve stress.
Professionals may lean on drugs to soothe mental distress, or self-medicate because they feel they have no time to properly deal with health issues or mental distress. Many individuals may use alcohol or drugs in an attempt to relieve the symptoms of conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder or anxiety.
Yet professionals are also prone to denying the extent of their struggles, out of shame, embarrassment, or the feeling that they can handle the condition on their own and they don’t need help. Denial is common in both substance abuse and in mental health conditions. Professionals may also fear the impact on their job, reputations, and even professional licenses.
Positive Sobriety Institute understands that mental illness and addiction share many of the same symptoms, and that admitting these struggles can be exceptionally difficult for those accustomed to being seen as self-reliant, successful leaders in their job, family and community. We are committed to helping our colleagues achieve sobriety and relief from mental health disorders so that they can return to pursuing their professional goals, enjoying healthy relationships with their loved ones, and living a long and fulfilling life.