It’s true that most people will experience some form of stress. Many individuals today are stressed, overworked, worried, or tense.
They’ve got work, children, family, friends, finances, meals, and more to tend to each day. It’s hard to relax a mind that is going on and on all week; the mind keeps thinking, worrying, analyzing, and planning.
It’s been going and going all week long, how is it supposed to come to an abrupt stop suddenly on the weekend?
Sadly, the over thinking, over worrying, and over analyzing is a significant contributor to the psychological illnesses of depression and anxiety. In fact, anxiety disorders are the most common type of psychological illness.
According to Moretza and Karen Khaleghi, authors of the book Anatomy of Addiction, 19.1 million adults suffer from anxiety, which translates to about 13.3 percent of the U.S. population, or about one in every seven adults. Also, the Anxiety Disorders Association of America reports that one in eight children are affected by anxiety disorders.
One way that men and women cope with strong anxiety is through drinking or drugging. Sure, it’s a way to escape. It’s a way to get away from yourself and the tumultuous mind. However, ultimately alcohol and drugs are not healthy coping mechanisms.
In fact, they’re dangerous. The cycle of addiction by definition is the re-activation of the brain’s reward system again and again and it is the key to drug abuse problems. Slowly, alcohol or another drug becomes the sole focus of your life to the exclusion and detriment of other life-activities.
When this happens there is both a psychological as well as a physical dependence on the drug. And when an addiction develops as a result of anxiety or depression or another mental illness, it’s known as having a co-occurring disorder or having a dual diagnosis.
Recently, more and more residential drug treatment centers are beginning to address the mental illness that often accompanies a drug addiction.
For instance, in addition to going through drug or alcohol detox, an addict would undergo individual and/or group therapy to explore the anxiety, learn new coping mechanisms, and address any underlying issues that might have prompted the anxiety and the addiction in the first place.
It might not come as a surprise to know that substance abuse addictions and mental illnesses frequently go hand in hand. You can imagine that an individual experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety or the mood swings of Bipolar Disorder might want to quell those uncomfortable feelings with drugs or alcohol.In some cases, however, it’s often difficult to determine which came first: the substance use or the mental illness.
The Mental Illness Should be Treated as Well
Nonetheless, drug treatment should address the addiction, the mental illness, as well as any underlying issues that might also be contributing to substance use.
Typically, treatment for a dual diagnosis may include individual and family psychotherapy, medication, support groups, and strong communication among the psychiatrist, psychologist, family members, and other health professionals in an individual’s life. Ideally, there would be an integration of services between the psychiatric and the drug treatment fields in order to best facilitate recovery.
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