Sometimes substance abuse is more than just a bad habit. It can be linked to things like mental illness. When there’s a dual diagnosis like this, it’s not always so simple to tackle the issue at hand. 

Mental health can play a huge part in how the addiction controls your emotions, and the right kind of addiction treatment would be needed. Not every addiction treatment center would be equipped to handle a dual diagnosis, so it’s best to look for the most effective treatment.

Mental health struggles

Ridding yourself of addiction can be incredibly hard, and you’re not going to get rid of it in a day. That situation is made even more complicated when there are mental health issues that make your addiction even more difficult to overcome. Mental health issues could have led to drug addiction, or the addiction could have led to mental health issues – in either case, the right treatment is necessary.

When there are mental health issues as well as substance abuse addictions, it’s called a dual diagnosis – which is important to know in drug rehab if you’re going to get the right treatment. It’s important for treatment centers to recognize when there are mental health issues in the equation. Untreated mental health problems can make the addiction increasingly difficult to get past.

It’s worth noting that mental health and substance abuse are diagnosed together quite commonly. As nearly 50 percent of individuals experiencing severe mental health issues or disorders are also dealing with drug addictions. There is a considerable correlation between the two.

How it starts

The reason mental health issues, substance abuse, and alcohol abuse are often correlated is that individuals may use these substances as a way to treat or relieve their symptoms. 

Mental health issues can present an overwhelming amount of pressure or negativity, and substances provide a short respite from that. Leaving these mental health issues untreated may increase the need for substances, or else the symptoms become even stronger.

Mental health issues aren’t always the cause, and in some cases, substance abuse can lead to mental health issues. Mental health issues can affect someone at any time, and a drug or alcohol problem can be all that’s necessary to bring them out. For this reason, once the individual has become addicted to the substance, it can be increasingly harder for them to quit.

Not only can substance abuse cause mental health issues to arise, but it can also worsen the symptoms. These mental health issues can make it much easier to become reliant on the substances, and going without them can make the symptoms much harder to deal with than they would without said issues.

Treating dual diagnosis

As there are two different issues that need to be treated, dual diagnosis isn’t always treated the same way as other forms of addiction treatment. It may be obvious to the counselor that the drug issue isn’t going to go away without the mental health issue going first, so the approach would try to treat both issues at the same time.


Individuals who are experiencing substance abuse addictions and mental health issues need someone they can trust with their issues. Someone who is confidential, which is why counselors are so important when it comes to recovery. 

Whether you’re on an outpatient program or a partial hospitalization program, a counselor is there to make sure you’re staying on track and listening to your troubles. Feeling heard and talking out your feelings is a huge step in overcoming your addiction.

Your counselor may try a number of different therapies on you to find the most effective course of action. CBT can be used to treat both drug addictions and mental health issues, so it can prove to be effective when it comes to a dual diagnosis. Mindfulness is another helpful practice you may learn with your counselor to help you be more in control of your thoughts and emotions.

Lifestyle changes

All the while you’re seeking care and aid with your addiction, lifestyle changes are necessary to help you avoid temptation. Trying to lead a more healthy lifestyle can help you to clear up some of your mental health symptoms, allowing you to feel a lot healthier. 

Of course, this can be difficult without help, but after seeing your counselor you may find that you’re more up to making these positive lifestyle changes. Even things as simple as a sleep pattern or your diet can make a lot of difference.


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