The Correlation Between Addiction and Mental Illness: Does One Cause the Other?

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Last Updated on May 24, 2021 by

Mental illnesses commonly associated with addiction can be considered as moral afflictions. Rather than individuals suffering from a physical and mental illness, addicts were viewed as poor people who were willfully greedy and hedonistic. We have a better-enlightened perspective of this particular subject matter thanks to years of study, with the new paradigm showing that addiction is a chronic, progressive brain condition. In reality, this condition is often referred to as a drug use disorder, prompting comparisons to diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia which is part of the kind of mental illness, as well as illnesses such as diabetes.

Addiction vs Mental Illness

Contemporary research into the essence of addiction shows that individuals with drug use problems have an increased rate of co-occuring mental illness. Research ascertains whether there is a link between addiction and the secondary diagnosis of a person. To view it with another lens, does one sickness cause another in individuals who have both diagnosed with addiction and another sickness? Addiction is an abnormal condition affecting the brain and behavior. When an individual cannot overcome drug addiction, they cannot prevent drug use, despite the extent of hazardous risk that they pose. The faster treatment is sought by an individual for drug addiction, the tendency is higher for an individual to be exempted from suffering from the deadlier effects of the illness and as well prevent mental illness.

The limitation is not only about these stated drugs; heroincocaine, or other illicit drugs. Individuals getting addicted to alcohol is highly probable, likewise to nicotine, sleep, and anti-apprehension medications, as well as and other legal substances which can cause mental illness.

It is additionally probable to become addicted to prescription or illegally acquired drugs like narcotic pain medications or opioids. In the United States, this crisis has reached epidemic proportions. In 2018, opioids were involved in two-thirds of all drug overdose resulting in deaths. These drugs have a high capacity to cause mental illness, the drug makes the brain to be vulnerable.

Persons may originally desire drug consumption for feelings of pleasure, this is the early sign of one of the kinds of mental illness. People ought to believe that total control over the frequency of drug usage rests with them. To approach this same subject differently, drugs change how the brain works over a duration of time. These improvements of a physical nature tend to endure for a long duration of time. They make individuals lose all inhibition and can end in maladaptive behaviors or mental illness.

When the option of inhibition is not available to an individual, there exists an addiction problem. The limitation is not only to their lives being in jeopardy. The limitation neither is limited to whether it places financial, emotional, or other problems on them or their loved ones. If they attempt ceasing, there exists the need to obtain and use drugs to get through an entire day. This is how dependency on the drug starts and could bring about contracting a form of mental illness.

Physical dependency or resistance is not the same as addiction. Withdrawal effects occur when a drug is abruptly stopped in physical dependency cases. When a drug dose becomes less effective over time, it is called tolerance.

Does Addiction Qualify as a Mental Disorder?

The word “co-occurring conditions” is used to describe the occurrence of two diagnoses in a single person. Research has shown that this condition has a high co-occurring rate with other mental illnesses since the 1980s. People who suffer from addiction were twice as possible as the general population to have a mental illness. Those suffering from mental disorders are often twice as likely to become chemically dependent. The concurrent physical existence of addiction prohibits it from being categorized solely as a mental health disorder; however, since part of the condition is psychological, individuals who develop addictions will experience some psychological symptoms in addition to physical and chemical dependency (it could even cause mental illness). The human brain is wired to make individuals want to replay pleasurable experiences. As a result, we are inspired to repeat them.

The brain of individuals has a Dopamine System which serves as a target by drugs that cause addiction. The brain is engorged by a drug called Dopamine. The occurrence of engorging breeds a powerful satisfaction sense. To obtain that extent of pleasure, do not stop the medication to lower the risk of mental illness.

There is an adjustment of the brain to surplus dopamine over a duration. Consequently, individuals require extra medication to attain the same level of high. Some of the activities that gave people pleasure formerly, such as eating and family time, tend to generate a reduced feeling of pleasure for them. They also tend to reduce mental illness

The continuous use of medications for an extended period of use can affect other brain chemical processes and circuits. It has the potential power to cause mental issues.

Some of These Chemical Processes and Circuits Include:

  • Memory Decision-making Judgment
  • Learning ability

These brain changes, when combined, can cause individuals to search out and use drugs in ways that are out of their control. They could break down and end up with mental illness.

Who has a Higher Tendency of Addiction?

The brain and body of each person are unique. Psychoactive drugs can affect people with mental illnesses in different ways. Some people like the sensation the first time they do it and want to do it again. Others despise it and never attempt it again. An addiction problem is not only to those who use drugs. There is no age at which it can not occur.

However, There Are Some Factors that Raise the Risk of Addiction. These Factors Are:

  • Family History: Genes determine about half of a person’s addiction risks. The tendency is higher to have alcohol or drug addiction if a person’s parents or siblings do. All gender is similarly affected by addiction. 
  • Early Drug Use: The brains of children are underdeveloped, and the use of drugs can cause this process to be altered. Drug use at a tender age can raise the risks of addiction later in life.
  • Psychosis: Addiction has a higher tendency in stressed people, who have difficulty paying attention, or have frequent anxiety. To alleviate their emotional state, they may resort to drug use. There also exists a higher tendency to develop an addiction if they are abuse victims.
  • Toxic Relationships. There is the probability that a person’s risks of addiction are raised of being addicted are if they were brought up in a family with problems and do not have close attachments to parents or siblings.

What Links Does Mental Illness and Addiction Have?

Mental illness indicates the utter breakdown of the hierarchy of needs found in people with addictions, as their propensity to behave against their self-interests proves. A pattern of drug abuse shows this abnormal behavior despite various negative effects, such as a deterioration in general physical health and the possibility of legal ramifications. As a result, addicts lose control over their urges, which is also a symptom of various other mental illness. It is also worth noting that drug misuse directly impacts brain levels of neurochemicals, including dopamine and serotonin, which regulate mood, among other items.

Similarly, mood problems usually end in a chemical imbalance, which demands the use of a drug such as an antidepressant to remedy. There exists an enormous correlation between addiction and mental illness.

Individuals who suffer from getting addicted to hard drugs have a higher risk of co-occurring mental illness than those who suffer from alcoholism, with an overall 72 percent and 45 percent higher rate of co-occurring mental illness, respectively. Depressive disorders are common in people who have a drug use disorder, but the evidence is limited and inconsistent. Up to 67 percent of people with alcoholism are also diagnosed with a depressive disorder, and up to 75 percent of people with drug addiction are diagnosed with mental illness. According to care provider statistics, 20 to 45 percent of people in therapy for addiction have co-occurring post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bolstering the hypothesis that traumatic events dramatically increase one’s risk of consuming alcohol or narcotics.

Social phobia is diagnosed in between 10% and 15% of those who need care, but research indicates that they are not diagnosed when they are being treated for mental illness.. Owing to such high rates of co-occurring disorders among addicts, experts have devised a few hypotheses to explain the association between addiction and mental illness.

Addicts almost have a double risk chance of suffering from mental health issue.

First, there has been a proposal that alcohol or drug addiction may bring about symptoms of a mental health disorder, as exhibited by marijuana users’ increased risk of mental issue. The second hypothesis holds that mental illness can result in the abuse of drugs and addiction, which trauma and violent crime victims often exhibit who turn to substance abuse as a coping mechanism. The final concept states that addiction and a co-occurring mental disorder share risk factors, including genetic or biological abnormalities, environmental causes such as stress or trauma, brain involvement in related areas, or some other cause linked to the development of adolescents. In reality, cases of co-occurring mental illness and addiction are most likely the result of a combination of all three factors. Given the strong psychological underpinnings of addiction and the signs that addiction shares with mental disorders, this is much more likely. Simply put, due to overlapping risk factors, addiction can cause series of mental illnesses, or could even evolve simultaneously and independently.

Prioritize Mental Health Treatment and Recovery

The brain can be likened to a puzzle. Although studies have spanned decades, our comprehension of the human mind remains tentative and not well grounded. We are, nevertheless, continue to obtain a better understanding of the most complex organ of any life form on the planet. It is imperative to understand disorders like drug use disorder and how their interaction with mental illness. Understanding mental illness would empower those who suffer from such conditions to obtain high-quality care for their symptoms and boost their life quality. If an individual or their loved one cares about would benefit from learning more about addiction or the complex relationship between addiction and co-occurring mental illness, please reach out to us at any time of day or night. Amongst our numerous coordinators, any one of them would be overjoyed to assist a person or their loved one in commencing the recovery process from mental illness.