Both mental health conditions and addiction are recognised as co-occurring disorders. Here’s where both disorders develop and carry effects on a parallel basis, seen as a significant co-occurring connection.

In context, mental health issues are found to increase the vulnerabilities of substance abuse, risking addiction development. Also co-occurring, addiction to drugs and alcohol is found to directly increase symptoms of mental health conditions, along with causing cognitive damage and weaknesses.

Medically recognised as a dual diagnosis, the connection between mental health and addiction can be significant if misdiagnosed, if ignored or if untreated, resulting in the suffering of dual disorders.

Noticing the signs and symptoms of a dual diagnosis is therefore important, as the parallel effects of influences, triggers and side effects can be unbearable and dangerous. Treatable and manageable through completing dual diagnosis treatment, the connection between mental health and addiction can be reduced and controlled, offering sustainable recovery efforts.

At Nova Recovery, we’re a private hospital, offering rehabilitation through such an intense and complicated connection. Reach out to experience dual diagnosis treatment, best completed on an inpatient basis.


Prevalence of co-occurring disorders

Co-occurring diagnoses are much more common than expected. The connection between poor mental health and addiction is so strong, that symptoms of both are usually experienced by our clients here at Nova Recovery.

Research shows that individuals who display mental health issues are at an increased risk of being exposed to addictive substances, with ratings of 44% for cocaine abuse and 38% for alcohol abuse. Emotional instability is seen as a cause for substance abuse, turning into addiction through long-term exposure.

Primary drug and alcohol exposure is also a common influence for mental health deterioration, where on average half of individuals who suffer from addiction, also encounter the co-occurring presence of mental illness. Due to the toxicity of addictive substances, changes to brain structure and chemicals are expected over the timespan of addiction, causing emotional, psychological, and behavioural weaknesses.

Enabling compulsive or emotional habits can, unfortunately, increase the risk of dual-diagnosis symptoms, requiring dual diagnosis treatment. Yet reasonably, control is commonly lacking through both poor mental health and addiction, making it challenging to notice the development of a dual diagnosis.


The connection between Mental Health and Addiction

A dual diagnosis can be a grave encounter. For some, it is manageable if support is accessed efficiently through professional means. Through quality support and treatment, the connection between mental health and addiction can begin to diminish. Yet, for those who unknowingly enable co-occurring symptoms, quality of life is found to suppress through the consequences of change, destruction and obsession.

Recognised as a natural response, poor mental health is highly associated with the use of drugs and alcohol, to suppress emotions and symptoms, while embracing an unrealistic yet accessible escape. Alcohol, stimulants, and hallucinogenic drugs are commonly abused, along with antidepressants, to alleviate mental struggles, tapping into the central nervous system.

As drugs can either slow down the mind or can act as a reward, effects can be sought-after, where consistent exposure can turn into an impulsive addiction.

The connection between mental health and addiction also goes further than this, showing the mental vulnerabilities that excessive drug and alcohol consumption incur. From internal changes to the central nervous system to the external effects caused by addiction, feelings of depression, anxiety, obsession, and panic are common, known to lead to mental illness.

Further factors, such as environments, genetics, influential relationships and people, and trauma can trigger both poor mental health and addiction. Yet the influence of each disorder, like a domino effect, are highly aggressive, supporting their commonality.

Once a brain disorder does develop, increased risks of co-occurring disorders are common, showing the need for greater awareness and uptake of rehabilitation. As psychological suffering can also lead to physical problems, social issues and personal damages, dual diagnosis treatment will be encouraged through this connection.


Noticing the Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of a dual diagnosis reflect some standalone diagnostic signs of either mental health disorders or substance abuse/addiction. However, alongside existing signs and symptoms, the connection between both will be displayed as a vicious cycle.

Noticing the signs and symptoms of substance abuse and mental health problems is very important, as an early diagnosis can reduce their connection. It is however likely that mental health treatments and addiction therapies will be recommended, no matter how mild the connection is, to improve wellbeing and reduce the risks of relapse.

Common signs and symptoms of a dual diagnosis include:

  • Drugs and alcohol are used to work through, suppress and manage mental health struggles
  • Withdrawal symptoms are experienced throughout consumption
  • Symptoms of mental health issues are consistent
  • Poor mental health is felt through substance abuse
  • Feelings of hopefulness, irritability and isolation
  • Physical and psychological signs of drug and alcohol dependence
  • Physical and psychological signs of psychological instability or suppression
  • A history of behavioural problems
  • The inability to break the cycle, due to both poor mental health and ongoing addictive needs
  • Reduced quality of life due to the connection

Where both drug and alcohol abuse is common, alongside any degree of mental vulnerability, a dual diagnosis could be developing, strengthening the connection and risk of co-occurring disorders.


Dual Diagnosis Treatment Options

In the event of a dual diagnosis, dual diagnosis treatment will be a necessary process to complete, in order to understand, treat and manage both conditions. To target the connection between mental health and addiction, simultaneous programmes will be promoted, to complete relevant treatment options.

To treat a drug and alcohol addiction, detoxification, treatment options of a therapeutic nature such as individual therapy, exposure therapy, relapse prevention planning and aftercare will be recommended.

To work through mental health disorders, mental health treatments, again including talking therapies, such as dialectical behavioural therapy and lifestyle management will be advised.

Combined together, dual diagnosis treatment can be experienced to influence dual rehabilitation, best completed via a drug and alcohol rehab clinic. Here at Nova Recovery, while we’re a private hospital, we’re experienced and qualified within dual diagnosis recovery, to help you through this connection.

The connection between mental health and addiction will continue without intervention. Source suitable support through our services.

Back to all posts

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: September 8, 2023

John has travelled extensively around the world, culminating in 19 years’ experience looking at different models. He is the European pioneer of NAD+ (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide) treatment to Europe in 2010; and recently back from the USA bringing state of the art Virtual Reality Relapse Prevention and stress reduction therapy. His passion extends to other metabolic disturbances and neurodegenerative diseases. The journey continues. In recent times, John has travelled to Russia to study and research into a new therapy photobiomudulation or systemic laser therapy working with NAD+ scientists and the very best of the medical professionals in the UK and the USA, together with Nadcell, Bionad Hospitals own select Doctors, nurses, dieticians and therapists. Johns’ passion continues to endeavour to bring to the UK and Europe new developments with NAD+ Therapy in preventive and restorative medicine and Wellness. In 2017 John Gillen was made a visiting Professor at the John Naisbitt university in Belgrade Serbia.