The National Alliance on Mental Illness has found that almost half of the people diagnosed with a mental health disorder also have a substance abuse problem, and that 37 percent of those who abuse alcohol, and 53 of those who abuse drugs also have a mental health issue. The relationship between mental illness and addiction can be complex and seemingly overwhelming.
Both mental illness and addiction can easily make you feel like you’re drowning, and out of control of your own brain. There are many options for treatment to support you and help you live a life free from the direct control of addiction and mental illness. Here are some ways to assess if treatment for dual-diagnosis is right for you.
Addiction is characterized by feeling out of control and hopeless. Your use of alcohol or drugs may have stopped being “fun” or seemingly helpful a long time ago, and may be causing you discomfort or harm, but you don’t know how to stop. You may have tried to cut back, manage your use, or stop, but ended up going back to old habits. Do you find yourself more likely to use drugs or alcohol when you have unpleasant feelings, or to help you cope when things seem overwhelming or too hard to deal with? If so, there is a better way to deal with your troubling thoughts and feelings, and now is the time to start.
Start with Sobriety:
In and of itself, substance abuse can generate a lot of out-of-control feelings or mental fuzziness that can resemble mental illness. Heavy drug and alcohol use can damage your brain chemistry, exacerbating or causing symptoms of a mental illness. Using to suppress your emotions is not getting rid of them, but only pushing them down further and getting in the way of true recovery. In addition, mental illness and drug use can sometimes create similar effects, that can muddy the waters in determining what’s really going on in your brain.
For all these reasons, stopping active use of alcohol and drugs can be an important step in separating substance abuse from the underlying mental health disorder. By starting the recovery process and removing the veneer of active drug use, you can begin to untangle the underlying mental tensions.
The next step is to work with a mental health specialist, expressing concerns and then undergoing a series of assessments to diagnose your condition and better determine how addiction and mental illness may be intertwined. The assessment will consist of some targeted interview questions seeking to determine the mental illness that are taking place alongside your substance abuse.
There are a wide variety of assessment tools, Some things that may be tested include cognitive skills, or your ability to think and process information, your personality and level of self-confidence, the state of your emotions, impulse control and attention span, and the ways you relate to others. Often these assessments may be given more than once, to see how things are changing based on the work you are doing following your treatment plan.
While some of the questions may be uncomfortable or difficult to answer, do you best to be thoughtful and honest. The interviewer will not judge you no matter what, but more information can help him or her better determine the way to care for you. It is important to communicate your comfort level, and help your care providers know what they can do to better listen to you and help you feel safe and supported. Together, you can design treatment plan that works for you and will help to guide you to living a thriving life.