The complex relationship between substance use disorders (SUDs) and mental health conditions is a critical concern in American health care. Often referred to as co-occurring disorders, the simultaneous presence of these conditions can severely impact an individual’s quality of life and create a variety of challenges for treatment. Learning more about the connection between substance abuse and mental health can help people make better choices regarding their substance use. It can shed light on the possible causes of several mental health challenges.
Co-occurring disorders are best treated by specialized programs that address both conditions. There are many options if you live in Georgia and have been looking for a dual diagnosis treatment program in Atlanta, GA. Reach out to an addiction treatment center to find out your options for recovery.
What Is the Connection Between Substance Abuse and Mental Health Conditions?
Substance use disorders are a group of conditions characterized by the compulsive use of one or more substances, despite the negative consequences they may cause. Mental health conditions, on the other hand, encompass a wide range of conditions that impact an individual’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, such as:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
One possible explanation for the connection between substance abuse and mental health conditions is that people are trying to self-medicate. Individuals with mental health conditions may turn to substances to alleviate their symptoms, find relief from distress, or cope with the challenges related to their mental health. However, this self-medication can lead to dependence on the substance, creating a cycle of addiction and worsening mental health.
The relationship between substance use disorders and mental health conditions goes both ways, meaning that each issue can contribute to the development or worsening of the other. The prolonged use of substances can lead to worsening mental health conditions. Co-occurring disorders, or dual diagnosis, refer to the simultaneous presence of a substance use disorder and a mental health condition in an individual.
Behavioral Therapies for Co-Occurring Disorders
Integrated treatment approaches simultaneously address substance use and mental health conditions and are considered the most effective method for managing co-occurring disorders. These approaches often include a combination of pharmacological interventions, behavioral therapies, peer support, and family involvement. However, the core is almost always behavioral therapy, as this approach is often effective.
There are several different treatment modalities for behavioral therapy, depending on what is needed by the client. Some of the more popular types of behavioral therapy include the following.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is an evidence-based therapy that focuses on identifying and modifying maladaptive thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that contribute to developing and maintaining substance use disorders and mental health conditions. Through CBT, individuals learn to recognize triggers, develop healthier coping strategies, and build resilience against relapse.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
DBT is a form of CBT that emphasizes the development of mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness skills. DBT is particularly effective in treating individuals with co-occurring disorders who exhibit self-destructive behaviors or struggle with wild emotional swings.
Motivational Interviewing (MI)
MI is a client-centered, goal-oriented counseling approach that focuses on resolving doubts and enhancing a person’s natural motivation to change. This therapeutic approach is instrumental in addressing the doubt that often accompanies the decision to seek treatment for co-occurring disorders.
Most programs for drug and alcohol addiction treatment in Georgia will offer one of these three types of behavioral therapy, or some other evidence-based type of psychotherapy.
Get Help for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Conditions
Co-occurring disorders are a unique challenge that must be addressed with specific techniques and treatment modalities. Thankfully, several treatment centers specialize in integrating mental health therapies and medication for co-occurring disorders. Getting professional mental health treatment in Georgia is always the best course of action when dealing with two intertwined disorders.