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What You Need to Know About Substance Abuse & Mental Health

National Recovery Month

One in twelve adults living in the United States suffer from a substance use disorder (SUD). Each September we recognize National Recovery Month.

Uncontrolled substance use is a mental health disorder. Substance use begins with a voluntary decision. Due to changes in brain function, it becomes a compulsive pattern over time. Moderate to severe symptoms can occur, with addiction being the most severe. 

Though the exact causes of SUD are unknown, it is characterized by distorted thinking and behavior patterns. Symptoms of SUD include personality changes, intense cravings, and abnormal behavior. 

What Substances Are Included? 

Substance use disorders can be caused by a variety of substances. Uncontrolled addiction can be caused by legal and illegal drugs, medications, and alcohol. Substances that are commonly used include:  

  • Narcotics and opiates. Painkillers of this type can also cause feelings of joy, elation, and excitement. Narcotic pain medicines, such as opium, heroin, and codeine, are examples of these drugs.  
  • Marijuana. Also known as cannabis. 
  • Depressants. In addition to reducing anxiety, these medications can also cause drowsiness. Benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax), barbiturates, and alcohol are all depressants.  
  • Stimulants. Amphetamines and cocaine stimulate the brain and nervous system. 

Substance Use Disorder & Mental Health  

Mental disorders and substance abuse often go hand in hand. Known as co-occurring disorders, mental health and substance abuse disorders coexist together at the same time.

About half of SUDs co-occur with other mental health disorders, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Mental health conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • Schizophrenia 
  • Depression 
  • Bipolar disorder 
  • Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) 
  • Personality disorders 
  • Anxiety disorders  

Treatment 

It is ideal to treat SUD and other mental disorders together rather than separately, since they often co-occur. Each disorder will be assessed using comprehensive assessment tools. In order to develop a successful recovery plan, individualized treatment is essential.  

A person struggling with SUD might not always be open to change – and treatment is most effective when they are willing to make different choices.  There are several statements to consider: 

  • It’s not about whether you have the willpower to change, but whether you’re READY to do so. 
  • At any particular moment, YOU have the ability to change the ending of your story. Do you have a vision for how your story should end?
  • What are the choices you can make now that will lead you to where you want to be? It is possible to recover from SUD with the right treatment and recovery plan.

Help is available

If you or a loved one is struggling with SUD, help is out there. Contact us and we will work with yout to help you find a Licensed Alcohol & Drug Counselor that is the right fit for you. Alternatively, we can refer you or someone you know to a residential addiction treatment center if required.

Contact us today to set up an appointment. 

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