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Dr. Cassidy Blair, Psy.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist | PSY 22022

Dr. Cassidy Blair, Psy.D.

Understanding the Link Between Addiction and Mental Health
Understanding the Link Between Addiction and Mental Health

Mental Health Disorders and Addiction Disorders often go hand in hand. With numerous common symptoms and risk factors between the two, it isn’t always easy to understand how these disorders interact. Mental Health Disorders and Addiction Disorders might develop one after the other or worsen each other as time goes on. There is a co-morbidity of Addiction issues and Mental Health Disorders.

Understanding both types of disorders as well as where they originate is the key to addressing your mental health challenges, overcoming symptoms, and getting proper treamtent. If you live with co-occurring Addiction and Mental Health Disorders, the team of professionals at Blair Wellness Group is here to help. To learn more about these disorders and how a Licensed Clinical Psychologist can help, please continue reading this guide on understanding the link between Addiction and Mental Health Disorders.

Overlapping Risk Factors

One of the biggest challenges when evaluating Addiction Disorders and Mental Health Disorders is that there are many shared causes between the two. Factors like family health history, environmental influences, childhood history, social history, relationship history, educational history, traumas, and more can cause or worsen both Addiction and Mental Illness. While it’s true that Mental Health Disorders can exacerbate Addiction Disorders and vice versa, it’s important to look at the underlying causes of all these issues.

Working with a Licensed Clinical Psychologist who specializes in Addiction and its effects on other Mental Health Disorders will help you understand the root of these issues. Addressing your disorders at their source will identify the most effective treatments to help you acheive your clinical objectives.

Social History

Social history can create risk factors for both Addiction Disorders and Mental Health Disorders, particularly during adolescence. Peer pressure or association with individuals who use drugs or alcohol can increase your risk of developing an Addiction Disorder.

Relationship History

Relationship history can also be a risk factor. Relationship issues like infidelity or abuse can lead to mental health problems or a desire to cope with addictive behaviors and substances.

Educational History

Finally, educational history can play a role in the development of Addiction and Mental Health Disorders. Low standardized test scores, poor attendance records, and similar academic problems can create self-esteem issues, relationships with deviant peers, and further professional struggles later in life. All these obstacles can lead to the development of Addiction Disorders or Mental Health Disorders.

Family History and Genetics

Your family health history can be a contributing factor to the Mental Health Disorders or Addiction Disorders you are experiencing. This is because genetics play a strong role in the development of these disorders. Certain genes create vulnerabilities to various Mental Health Illnesses and Addictions. Family history of a Mental Health Disorder is an indicator that you might be predisposed to that condition.

Genetic influence can be a direct or indirect cause of Mental Health Illness or Addiction. Direct genetic influences might affect how an individual responds to certain drugs or how predisposed one is to alcohol or drug dependence.

Indirect genetic vulnerability, on the other hand, stems from genetic interactions with environmental influences. For example, a teenager who frequently uses marijuana has a higher risk of experiencing psychosis as an adult. Certain gene variants might increase that risk even more, making the individual more susceptible to a Mental Health Disorder that is seemingly caused by substance abuse.

Environment and Epigenetics

Environmental factors such as stress and trauma can lead to both Addiction Disorders and Mental Health Disorders. However, these environmental factors can also affect gene activity. Epigenetics refers to the study of how environmental factors influence gene activity and expression, particularly in the developmental stage. Both environmental and epigenetic factors can increase one’s predisposition to Mental Health Disorders and Addiction Disorders.

Environmental factors such as diet or maternal diet, chronic stress, or drug administration can interact with an individual’s genetics during specific developmental periods. These interactions can cause long-term genetic alterations. While these alterations don’t affect the DNA sequence, they can pass down to the next generation, creating more genetic vulnerabilities in the family.

Age and Childhood Experiences

Physical or emotional traumas are common underlying causes of Mental Health Illnesses and substance abuse. Experiencing trauma or other adverse conditions at an early age can put you at higher risk of developing these types of conditions. For example, a child who experiences drug or alcohol exposure at an early age is more vulnerable to that same addiction as an adult. Likewise, a child who suffers abuse or neglect from a parent who has an Addiction Disorder is more susceptible to depression, anxiety, or other Mental Health Disorders.

Mental Illness Contributing to Substance Use

Another key part of understanding the link between addiction and mental health is observing the ways that mental illness contributes to substance abuse. Individuals with Mental Health Disorders might turn to alcohol, drugs, or other addictive substances or behaviors as a form of self-medication. While these substances might provide some temporary relief from symptoms, they do far more harm than good over time. Furthermore, using addictive substances can lead to dependence, which then creates or worsens Addiction Disorders.

Alcohol and other addictive substances offer no cure for Mental Health Illnesses. Only a Licensed Clinical Psychologist can help you find a treatment plan that addresses the source of your condition.

Substance Abuse Contributing to Mental Illness

Substance abuse can affect the same parts of the brain that Mental Health Disorders like Schizophrenia, Mood Disorders, or anxiety disorders affect. Abusing drugs, alcohol, or other detrimental substances can alter brain structure and function in these areas. This in turn leads to the development of Mental Health Illnesses, especially if the individual has an underlying vulnerability to certain mental health conditions.

A Licensed Clinical Psychologist can analyze the ways that substance abuse has affected your brain activity and the development of Mental Health Disorders. The more your doctor finds out about where your disorders come from and how they interact with each other, the easier it is to address symptoms and find effective treatment.

Co-Occurring Disorders Exacerbate Each Other

One of the biggest dangers of co-occurring Addiction Issues and Mental Health Disorders is that each worsens the other. The symptoms and behaviors associated with an Addiction Disorder influence the symptoms and behaviors of a Mental Health Disorder and vice versa.

For example, someone suffering from depression might turn to substance use for temporary relief. This can build dependency and addiction, which in turn affect job performance, relationships, and more. The detrimental effects of addiction lead to increased feelings of guilt, isolation, and other symptoms of depression. Addiction and mental illness can create a cycle that becomes harder and harder to break as time goes on.

Treating Co-Occurring Addiction and Mental Health Disorders

Seeking professional treatment for co-occurring Addiction and Mental Health Disorders stops the cycle and puts you back in control of your life. Dr. Blair is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with expertise in addiction treatment and how it interacts with other mental health conditions. She and the team of addiction psychologists at Blair Wellness Group will work with you to build a specialized treatment plan that addresses the unique intersection of every disorder you face.

Evidence-based treatments from Licensed Clinical Psychologists are the way to overcome and treat your Addiction and Mental Health Disorders so that you achieve proper remedies and heal from these disorders. Take the first step toward recovery today by reaching out to Blair Wellness Group.

Understanding the Link Between Addiction and Mental Health

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