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The Mental Illness & Substance Abuse Correlation

Mental illness affects millions of Americans throughout their lives. Whether it is PTSD, depression or psychotic episodes, mental disorders can be exacerbated by environmental factors, stress, abuse, traumatic events, disease states, or genetics, to name a few. It’s not uncommon to experience mental illness at some point in childhood or as an adult.

Annual Prevalence Among U.S. Adults, by Condition:1
• Major Depressive Episode: 7.2% (17.7 million people)
• Schizophrenia: <1% (estimated 1.5 million people)
• Bipolar Disorder: 2.8% (estimated 7 million people)
• Anxiety Disorders: 19.1% (estimated 48 million people)
• Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: 3.6% (estimated 9 million people)
• Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: 1.2% (estimated 3 million people)
• Borderline Personality Disorder: 1.4% (estimated 3.5 million people)

The Mental Illness & Substance Abuse CorrelationFrom the list above, anxiety disorders are by far the most common mental illness or disruption that individuals face in the US. There are neurotransmitters throughout the entire body that send signals to the brain, alerting you instantaneously of real or perceived danger. Anxiety and stress are made up of both psychological and physical symptoms, creating nervousness, fear, worry, sweating, rapid heart palpitations, a rise in blood pressure, nausea, and shortness of breath.

When anxiety disorders are left untreated or undertreated, several areas of the brain like the hippocampus (regulates emotions) and the prefrontal cortex (decision making, planning abilities) shrink, causing long-term damage. Consequently, any mental illness that is not treated will bear the influences of long term effects, and certain mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, OCD, or PTSD will be intensified by substance use.

The American Psychiatric Association defines addiction and substance use disorder as the following; “Addiction is a complex condition, a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequence. People with addiction (severe substance use disorder) have an intense focus on using a certain substance(s), such as alcohol or drugs, to the point that it takes over their life.”

The Mental Illness & Substance Abuse Link
Studies show that mental illness can lead to substance abuse, and substance abuse can lead to mental illness. In some respects, people with mental disorders might try to tamp down bouts of depression or hallucinations with drugs or alcohol, while those with substance additions can damage parts of their brain and cause mental disturbances to occur. The coexistence of both mental health and a substance use disorder is referred to as co-occurring disorders.

Negative Stigma
Unfortunately, there are preconceived notions and the negative stigma associated with mental health issues that can stop individuals from seeking treatment. The damaging concept that exists around mental health stems from a lack of understanding and education. There should never be any fear or anxiety when speaking to a professional about your concerns because keeping an open dialogue with a professional regarding mental health is crucial for reversing the condition. By working together to shed light on the prevalence of mental health issues and the importance of mental wellness, medical professionals can improve patient access to numerous available resources and help their patients realize that they are not alone. The more personalized and individualized the treatment is, the better the outcome will be for the individual’s recovery.

Improving Mental Health
In a recent study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers studied the mental wellbeing of lifelong alcohol abstainers and women who quit drinking. The lifelong abstainers had the healthiest mental wellbeing, but interestingly, the women that stopped drinking had improved mental wellbeing equal to the abstainers within just four years of quitting.

The researchers suggest that quitting alcohol use may lead to a reversal of the neurotoxic effects of alcohol and lead to fewer stressful life events, such as conflict within family, which in turn lead to improved well-being.2

Numerous other studies have shown similar results with quitting drugs and getting the proper mental health therapies. Anyone struggling with addictions, substance use disorders or mental illness, should seek treatment. If left untreated, the symptoms, severity, and health-related conditions, including death, are looming.

Your New Life Starts Today
Riverside Recovery is an addiction treatment center for men and women, offering a full continuum of care for people suffering from addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders.

Our programs are individualized and customized for every client. We know that your experience with addiction is informed by your background, your lifestyle, and more — every patient we treat is unlike anyone we have treated before. We work closely with you to identify what you need from us, and we make sure we can provide it at our high standard of care. With this approach, addiction treatment at Riverside Recovery can be the right fit for a wide variety of clients. Whether you have been to rehab or this is your first time; whether you are struggling with addiction to alcohol, drugs, or both; or whether you need treatment for trauma or a co-occurring disorder, we are here to help.

To find out more, please visit rrtampa.com or call (813) 575-4171.

Riverside Recovery
4004 N Riverside Dr.
Tampa, FL 33603
(813) 575-4171 | rrtampa.com

References:
1. National Alliance on Mental Illness, “Mental Health By The Numbers”
2019, Arlington, VA, https://www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-by-
the-numbers
2. American Psychiatric Association, “For Women, Quitting Alcohol Can Lead to
Improved Mental Well-Being” 2019, Washington, DC,
https://www.psychiatry.org/news-room/apa-blogs/apa-blog/2019/08/
for-women-quitting-alcohol-can-lead-to-improved-mental-well-being

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