Mental Health and Substance Use

Comorbid Illnesses

Mental health and substance use challenges do not discriminate. Often, people who have one type of challenge (mental health or substance use) find that they begin to have challenges with the other later in their lives. A 2020 research article from the National Institutes on Drug abuse highlights that there are high prevalences between substance use and: anxiety related disorders; mood disorders; attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder; psychotic illnesses, and some types of personality disorders.

When do mental health and substance use challenges occur?

For mental health, this is going to be a very vague answer – it depends.

  • Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, for example, can occur whenever a traumatic experience arises.
  • Depression can occur at various points in life
  • Bipolar related disorders usually have an onset rang from adolescents to young adulthood; however, there are always outliers
  • Schizophrenia typically occurs in the mid to late twenties, again outliers always occur
For addiction, this can range as well. Factors that contribute to addiction development range from:
  • Having a family history of addiction
  • Growing up in a stressful household
  • Childhood trauma or trauma in general
  • Bullying and social networks
How do mental health and substance use come together?germ gb3127cc24 640

This can be like the perfect storm. A number of examples will be given in hopes of finding one that relates to you or someone you know.

  • Young child experiences trauma and in hopes of forgetting the past numbs with alcohol
  • Father loses his partner of 10 years, becomes depressed, uses cocaine to make it to work
  • A person with bipolar disorder uses methamphetamine to create and sustain their hypomania to stay productive

In most of these cases, the person is trying to avoid or escape aspects of their lives. Substances work well for this as they typically numb pain from the past and can also create energy to complete necessary tasks. Substances can also help people regulate their moods.

Mental health and substance use disorders can tear not only a person’s life apart but also the lives’ of those that care for them. It is important for you to locate a therapist near you that is trained in comorbid illnesses to effectively create change in your life.

We have experience working comorbid illnesses and would be honored to support you in your recovery journey. Click here to submit a form or call us at 720.295.6703 for a free 20-minute consultation.

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