As treatment for addiction continues to evolve and become more sophisticated, more parallels between mental health and addiction recovery have been discovered. While previously they may have been considered separate issues, now addiction professionals realize that they are closely linked and refer to them as co-occurring disorders.
For someone who struggles with a serious addiction and a mental disorder, the best chance of long-term success can be achieved if one is treated for both at the same time. In the most cutting-edge addiction treatment centers, there is staff that is knowledgeable about how to treat patients who suffer from co-occurring disorders.
When someone has been diagnosed with both an addiction and a mental health issue this is referred to as a dual diagnosis. Previous to more advanced addiction treatment centers being able to treat both issues at once, someone who suffered from co-occurring disorders had to navigate both the tricky waters of mental health treatment options and addiction treatment options.
There are parallels between both of these issues, one is that there are many different routes someone can take when trying to find the right treatment. And also that the underlying problems that cause these issues can go undiagnosed for long periods of times.
Since symptoms of being bipolar can grow worse in adulthood, someone might not realize that they are bipolar for quite a while. Similarly, someone might not realize that they have developed a problem with alcohol or prescription drugs for some time.
When someone has been able to be properly diagnosed with co-occurring disorders the best type of treatment to seek is one where both issues can be treated at once.
Parallels Between Mental Health And Addiction Recovery
There are many interesting parallels between mental health and addiction recovery treatment. One is that there are many different levels of treatment that correspond with the levels of severity that the patient is suffering from. There are also many different kinds of treatment settings that the patient must navigate, including individualized counseling and group sessions and support groups.
One of the important reasons why it’s important for people with co-occurring disorders to be treated by someone knowledgeable about them, is that there is a delicate balance between prescribing medications that may help with mental health, but doing so properly to someone already struggling with substance abuse. When treated separately this can become a hindrance, but under professional care, someone can work on their mental health in ways that won’t compromise their issues with addiction.
Other parallels include patients understanding that both mental health and addiction issues are never completely over and solved. Although quality treatment and support groups will give them many tools and ways to cope with both of these issues in healthy ways, they are something that someone will always have to keep working on. They are both journeys, as opposed to having a finite endpoint.
Addiction and mental health also share the parallel of being misunderstood by the outside world many times. People who don’t have serious issues with mental health and addiction may view those who suffer from them as weak or damaged people. There are dark stigmas attached to both of these issues, and for patients to recover from them they have to be able to work on themselves despite the stigma and hold on to their self-worth.
And, finally, another parallel between mental health and addiction issues are the alienating effect they can have on people’s close friends and families. Both issues often drive wedges between addicts and those that love them. However, with the advances in treatment for co-occurring disorders, families and close friends can become part of the healing process and understand more how mental health and addiction recovery are linked.