Sometimes, a person addicted to drugs can also suffer from mental illness. The presence of two or more disorders in a person at the same time is often known by the term ‘comorbidity’. It is estimated that the rate of mental illness in drug addicts are two times when compared to mental illness among people who do not use drugs. Being affected by both drug addiction and mental illness can be extremely tough to deal with since each of the illnesses can end up worsening each other.
4 Major Factors for Drug Addiction And Mental Illnesses
Knowing which of the disorders affected the person first can be quite difficult since drug use has been observed to induce psychosis and other mental disorders. Similarly, people with mental illnesses have also been observed to seek out drugs to deal with their situation. The following are some of the common factors that can trigger these two disorders
1. Genetic Factors
Some people will have certain overlapping vulnerabilities when it comes to genetics that can make them open to both addiction and mental illness, with both disorders influencing one another. And in case these people suffer from any single disorder, they will also be at high risk of being afflicted with the second one. So, a person with such a genetic vulnerability who is diagnosed with mental illness has a higher chance of using drugs.
2. Brain Abnormalities
It has also been observed that people affected by certain brain abnormalities can suffer from both mental illnesses and drug addiction at the same time. For example, if the region of the brain that deals with risk and reward is affected by drug use, then that abnormality can also result in mental illness in the person.
3. Past Trauma
If a person was exposed to extreme trauma in the past, then they are also likely to have shared illnesses. So, someone who was sexually abused at a young age can develop mental illnesses if they are unable to resolve the trauma. And subsequently, such people are also more likely to use drugs as a means to escape from the memories of the trauma.
4. Developmental Issues
The comorbidity of the two disorders can also be caused due to developmental problems. A person who has been using drugs since their teenage days is at a higher risk of mental illness. This is because the brain is rapidly changing during the teenage years. As such, if the person regularly consumes drugs at the time of such massive brain developments, it is very likely that they will suffer from mental disorders later in their life.
Any treatment for drug addiction and mental illness needs to be comprehensive enough to deal with the both of them without making one trigger the other. As such, a treatment for drug abuse should not push one into behaviors that might trigger mental illness. In the same way, a treatment for mental illness should not force one into more drug use. The specific method of treatment to be used will depend on how addicted a person is on drugs and how mentally ill they are. Generally speaking, the comorbidity between drug use and mental illness is usually dealt with a combination of medication and behavioral therapies.
Though medications are available for dealing with addiction to specific drugs, very little research was ever done to find out a medication that can be effective against the comorbid occurrence of the two disorders. But a medication named bupropion has been observed to help people reduce their addiction to the drug methamphetamine even though it is primarily used for the treatment of depression. Attempts at finding a similar medication that will help people suffering from drugs and mental problems are ongoing across the world.
2. Behavioral Therapies
Many behavioral therapies have been created to deal with people suffering from the comorbidity between drug addiction and mental disorders. The drug rehabilitation centers usually customize the therapies according to the age, sex, and history of drug abuse and mental illness of the patient. While some therapies are designed specifically for healing adolescents, some are directed more towards groups and families.
The Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) found out that almost half of the people who suffered from severe mental illnesses have a history of substance abuse including drugs. Unfortunately, this was never a much-discussed topic in the past. In fact, the deep connection between drug use and mental illnesses is only being explored in detail at present times. With new medications and therapies being created, people who suffer from both these issues will likely have a more comprehensive care available for them in the future.