Substance Use and Co-Occurring Mental Health Conditions

Substance Use and Co-Occurring Mental Health Conditions

Calendar-IconNovember 7, 2022  |  Drugs, Mental Health Conditions, Substance Use
substance use and co-occurring mental health conditions

A substance use disorder (SUD) is a mental condition that causes sufferers to struggle to control their use of legal or illegal drugs and substances, like alcohol or prescription medication.  


Symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe, with the most extreme form of SUD being addiction.  


SUD affects a person's brain and often leads to undesirable behavior that can affect their professional and personal life.  


People who experience SUD may also struggle with another mental health condition. The most common co-occurring conditions include anxiety conditions, depression, ADHD, bipolar, personality, and schizophrenia.  


SUDs and other mental conditions commonly co-occur, but one does not cause the other.  


In this post, we will go over some background information on SUDs and their co-occurrence with other mental health conditions.  

What Do I Need to Know About Substance Use Disorders? 


SUDs are a medical condition defined by the inability to control the use of a particular substance despite harmful consequences.  Recently in the US, 4 million people are suffering from SUD. 


SUDs can range from mild cases to severe depending on the number of diagnostic criteria the individual meets.   


Only a doctor or mental health professional can properly diagnose a SUD, so those who suspect they may have a SUD should seek a professional opinion before seeking treatment.  


How Do SUDs Co-Occur with Other Mental Health Conditions? 


Mental conditions and SUDs commonly co-occur, but one is not caused by the other.  


There are three mainstream possibilities as to why SUDs and other conditions may co-occur.  


Common Risk Factors Can Contribute to Both SUDs and Other Mental Health Conditions 


SUDs and mental health conditions can both arise from genetic predispositions. In addition, environmental factors like stress and trauma can cause genetic changes that are passed down through generations. This can contribute to the manifestation of an SUD or another mental health condition.   


Mental Health Conditions Can Contribute to a SUD 


Mental conditions like anxiety, depression, and PTSD can cause individuals to use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. These drugs can temporarily help treat symptoms of these mental conditions; however, they can worsen symptoms over time.  Additionally, brain changes in people with mental health conditions can enhance the reward effect of substances, making it more likely they will continue to use the substance over time. 


Substance Use and SUDs Can Help Contribute to the Development of Mental Health Conditions 


Substance use can change the user’s brain chemistry and function, resulting in the person developing a mental health condition.   


How to Seek Treatment for SUDs and Co-Occurring Conditions 


In most cases, treating the SUD and the co-occurring mental condition together is best.  


For a proper diagnosis, a healthcare provider must evaluate people seeking treatment for each condition. As symptoms can overlap, the provider must use a comprehensive assessment to reduce the chance of a missed diagnosis. 


Treatment will often include therapy and medication and be constantly tailored to the individual's specific combination of conditions and symptoms. Additionally, the person's age, misuse of substances, and specific mental condition will also be considered.


Individual and Family Therapy from Child Focus 


One of the key ingredients to treating SUDs and other mental health conditions are regular therapy and substance abuse prevention.  


Individuals can seek substance use disorder therapy, or they can attend family therapy for those cases where the condition affects the family unit.  


For the best individual and group therapy available in the Cincinnati area contact Child Focus. We provide mental health and substance use disorder treatment services for adults, children, and the whole family.  

If you are looking for superior individual or family therapy reach out to Child Focus today. 


Satisfied with Child Focus? Write us a review here!