Navigating Mental Health and Addiction: A Roadmap to Recovery

stressed man looking at pills

From anxiety and depression to substance use disorders, mental health and addiction can significantly impact lives, relationships, and overall well-being. As problems that commonly overlap and co-occur, they can also create challenges that make the journey to recovery seem insurmountable.

Fortunately, there is hope. With the right support and treatment, individuals battling addictions and co-occurring mental health issues can overcome these hurdles and lead fulfilling, healthy, and happier lives.

As Arizona’s top addiction rehab, Decision Point Center knows that the road to recovery requires a whole-person approach. It’s why we offer a range of evidence-based programs that give ample attention to both addiction and mental health, and why we’re proud to honor Mental Health Awareness Month by sharing some helpful information about the connection between addiction and mental health and how we help patients find their path to sustainable sobriety.

The Link Between Mental Health and Addiction

People who struggle with addiction and substance use disorders may also have other mental health disorders, and people with mental health disorders may also struggle with substance use. These mental health disorders can be varied, but commonly include depression, anxiety, ADHD, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, and schizophrenia, among others.

Having both a mental health disorder and substance use disorder does not mean that one caused the other. Instead, the relationship between mental health and addiction is considered “bidirectional,” which means that they can influence each other in a cyclical manner.

According to current research, there are three possible reasons as to why addiction and other mental health disorders may co-occur:

  1. Common Risk Factors: One possibility is that both substance use disorders (SUDs) and other mental health disorders may share common risk factors. These factors can be genetic, environmental, or a combination of both. For instance, certain genes may predispose individuals to both SUDs and mental health disorders. Additionally, environmental factors such as stress or trauma can contribute to the development of both conditions. These environmental influences can cause genetic changes that are passed down through generations, increasing the likelihood of experiencing mental health challenges or developing a substance use disorder.
  2. Mental Disorders Contributing to Substance Use: Another possibility is that mental health disorders can contribute to the onset of substance use and SUDs. Individuals grappling with conditions like anxiety, depression, or PTSD may turn to drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication. While substances may temporarily alleviate symptoms, they can exacerbate mental health issues over time. Moreover, brain changes associated with mental disorders may enhance the rewarding effects of substances, making individuals more susceptible to continued use. This self-medication can evolve into a problematic pattern of substance abuse, further complicating the individual's mental health.
  3. Substance Use Contributing to Mental Disorders: A third possibility is that substance use and SUDs can contribute to the development of other mental health disorders. Prolonged substance use can lead to changes in brain structure and function, increasing the likelihood of experiencing mental health challenges. For example, substances may alter neurotransmitter levels, impair cognitive function, and exacerbate symptoms of anxiety or depression. Additionally, lifestyle factors associated with substance abuse, such as social isolation and impaired decision-making, can further contribute to mental health disorders.

Diagnosing & Treating Dual Diagnoses

When someone is struggling with addiction and another mental health disorder, it’s called a co-occurring disorder or a dual diagnosis.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to arrive at a correct diagnosis for either issue, as symptoms of addiction and mental disorders can be similar. This is why it’s crucial to seek help from trained professionals who perform comprehensive assessments, testing, and screenings to ensure that a diagnosis is not overlooked and that the right treatment is provided.

Once diagnosed, treatment will typically involve a combination of therapies tailored to address both the addiction and the co-occurring mental health disorder(s).

How Decision Point Center Can Help

At Decision Point Center, we have the resources, experience, and comprehensive team of professionals to help individuals suffering from addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. Through our dual diagnosis program, we provide psychiatry, proven therapies, and tailored treatments that focus on treating patients as whole persons.

While plans are always tailored to each patient’s diagnoses and individual factors, they generally begin with detoxification, with or without medication assisted treatment (MAT), and progress through addressing co-occurring disorders using behavioral therapies, psychiatry, medications, supportive housing, and support groups.

By utilizing a range of therapies in our dual diagnosis program, we’re able to tailor treatment plans effectively to the needs of each patient. This includes some of the most common therapies used in treating dual diagnoses:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a widely used therapy that helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors. By challenging distorted beliefs and learning new coping strategies, clients can break the cycle of addiction and manage symptoms of their co-occurring mental health disorder.
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). DBT combines elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) with mindfulness techniques. It focuses on helping individuals develop skills to manage painful emotions, improve relationships, and cope with stress. In our dual diagnosis program, DBT can be particularly effective in addressing emotional dysregulation often seen in conjunction with addiction and mental health disorders.
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). ACT encourages individuals to accept their thoughts and feelings rather than trying to suppress or control them. It teaches mindfulness skills and promotes psychological flexibility, allowing clients to live in accordance with their values while facing life's challenges. ACT can be beneficial for those struggling with addiction and mental disorders by fostering acceptance and promoting positive change.

We also utilize other therapies and approaches, including:

  • Bowenian family therapy. Focuses on understanding family dynamics and improving communication to address underlying issues fueling addiction and mental health disorders.
  • EMDR trauma therapy. Helps process traumatic experiences through guided eye movements, essential for individuals with trauma-related co-occurring disorders.
  • Rational emotive behavioral therapy. Identifies and challenges irrational beliefs contributing to emotional distress and dysfunctional behavior, aiding in developing adaptive coping mechanisms.
  • Motivational interviewing. Client-centered therapy resolves ambivalence about change, enhancing readiness for change and treatment engagement.
  • Solution-focused brief therapy. Emphasizes identifying strengths and solutions, facilitating quicker positive changes, especially helpful in dual diagnosis treatment.

Decision Point Center: Hope Begins Here.

Mental health and addiction are formidable challenges, but they are not insurmountable. With the right support, treatment, and dedication, individuals can achieve success.

At Decision Point Center, we’re proud of being known for our ability to provide the comprehensive care and support individuals with dual diagnoses need to overcome obstacles in their journeys to recovery. If you have questions about our Arizona addiction treatment center and programs we offer, give us a call at (844) 292-5010 or contact us online.

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