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Understanding the Relationship Between Mental Health and Substance Use

Studies consistently show that those who struggle with mental health issues are statistically at higher risk for substance abuse. Making the connection between why people with mental health issues have a higher likelihood of substance abuse and addiction can help people understand damaging patterns and break the cycle of abuse and mental health issues.    

To help explain the connection between mental health and substance abuse, our team at Phoenix House Florida, a substance abuse treatment center in Tampa, shares some of the basics of this complex topic.

Understanding Co-occurring Disorders

It can be difficult to distinguish between whether a substance abuse problem is a result of mental health struggles, or if it is the cause of the addiction. As simple as it would be to declare one answer over the other, it’s simply not that cut and dry. 

About 50 percent of people suffering from severe mental illness also struggle with substance abuse, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. The same research found that 37 percent of alcohol abusers and 53 percent of drug abusers also have at least one serious mental illness, and of all people diagnosed as mentally ill, 29 percent abuse alcohol or drugs. As you can see, those struggling with this issue are far from alone. 

When this happens and you have both a substance abuse problem and a mental health issue such as depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety, it is called a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis. Co-occurring disorders can have different symptoms from substance abuse alone, and vary from person to person. 

Co-occurring disorders should be diagnosed by a mental health professional, but in many cases you’ll see these disorders come as a packaged deal — often with the mental health issue causing self-medication.

Breaking the Cycle of Addiction

The key issue with co-occurring disorders is that they may directly affect each other. For example, alcohol abuse can cause depression to worsen, leading to more alcohol abuse, and the cycle will continue without intervention. 

The simple most important step in breaking this cycle is to get help in treating both the addiction and the mental health disorders. You’ll need a qualified mental health counselor and doctors who can treat your mental health issues with either medication, talk therapy, or both, while also having access to specialists in addiction recovery.

Where to Get Help

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse related to mental health disorders, you are not alone. Substance abuse recovery in Tampa is available with Phoenix House Florida. Licensed therapists will help address and unlock the causes behind the addictive behaviors and will work to help address the physical, psychological, and social changes needed to succeed in the journey of recovery.  

For information to assist those struggling with addiction, speak with Tampa substance abuse recovery specialists. To schedule a consultation with Phoenix House Florida, please request an appointment today.


Disclaimer: The contents of this website are for general educational purposes only. All content and media on the Phoenix House Florida website does not constitute professional medical advice nor is the information intended to replace the services provided by Phoenix House Florida or other qualified medical professionals. If you believe you are having a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.

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At Phoenix House Florida, we have a passion for healing. If you or your loved one are in need of subtance use treatment, we are here to help. Give us a call or submit our appointment request form today.

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How Can We Help?

At Your House

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At Our House

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The Derek Jeter Center

The Derek Jeter Center Adolescent program in Brandon, FL provides comprehensive outpatient services that help families deal with teen substance use and related mental health conditions.