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How Mental Health Affects Addiction

woman practicing mental health awareness

There are a variety of ways that mental health affects addiction. Mental health and addiction issues often occur together in the same person. Many treatment programs, such as Rockland Recovery, treat the whole person, not just the addiction. People with addiction issues and their family members must understand how mental health affects addiction and the treatment and other resources that are available at our outpatient addiction treatment programs.

The Mental Health and Addiction Connection

Researchers and treatment professionals have known for many years that there is a link between addiction and mental health. They do not know yet, though, the catalyst, the mental health, or the addiction. They affect each other, no matter which one started first. A person with addiction issues may have started or continued their substance abuse to self-medicate their mental health disorder. Similarly, an individual may exhibit mental health issues because of their addiction to alcohol or other drugs.

Some dual diagnosis disorders, which are often referred to as co-occurring disorders, involve a mental health diagnosis such as depression, an anxiety disorder, or a bipolar disorder. People may turn to alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs, or opioids to escape their mental health symptoms.

Drug abuse and addiction often affect the brain. These changes may occur as short-term or long-term changes. Some changes that occur possibly include:

  • Paranoia related to the drug use and mental health effects
  • Aggression that may occur as a result of the changes in the brain or related to both mental health and the addiction issue
  • Changes in brain structure and function
  • Worsening symptoms over time

Some other possible effects of how mental health affects addiction include experiencing hallucinations or brain changes that enhance the rewarding effects of the drug use. This likely results in an increased likelihood of continuing with substance use.

Raising Awareness of Mental Health and Addiction Treatment

When a person experiences both addiction and mental health issues, they must receive treatment for both issues at the same time. This may occur in intensive outpatient treatment settings, at a facility that offers men’s rehab center programs or women’s rehab center programs.

Several sources indicate that approximately half of all individuals with mental health disorders also experience substance use disorders. When people have a substance use disorder, there is a chance that the mental health symptoms increase as the effects of the drug wears off. Symptoms such as depression, anxiety, or other issues may occur, which may, in turn, lead many people to use more of the drug or different drugs to try to overcome the mental health symptoms.

Substance abuse treatment program staff are aware of the possibility of clients experiencing mental health disorders along with their substance use disorder. This mental health awareness helps to establish the presence of both disorders. Still, it is best for clients that know that they have co-occurring disorders to reveal the information during their comprehensive assessment at Rockland Recovery. The highly qualified team members make sure that every client receives the drug addiction program services and the mental health services that they need for their recovery.

Discover More About Rockland Recovery’s Individualized Addiction Treatment Today

Everyone has different treatment needs, even if two or more people have the same or similar diagnosis. At Rockland Recovery, this is a primary reason that we offer individualized treatment programs for your specific treatment needs.

Our Rockland Recovery team will be there for every step of your recovery, including after treatment, if you go to one of our sober living homes. Contact us today at 855.732.4842 to learn more and to get started on your recovery.

Medical Reviewer Kate Perfetti, LADC II

Medically Reviewed by Kate Perfetti, LADC II

Kate is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor who has worked in the field of substance abuse for the last nine years. At Rockland Recovery, Kate works to provide resources to the local community and engage and progress Rockland Recovery’s alumni program.


Take the First Step Toward Recovery.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, we encourage you to request a confidential call to explore treatment options, ask questions, and receive support from experienced professionals. We know taking this first step can be challenging, but it’s a courageous and important part of the recovery journey.

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