In Relation to Mental Illness and Addiction, How Do the Two Correlate?
With addiction and mental illness, the two particular conditions that were looking for are obviously anxiety and depression. Often times alcohol is used to assuage symptoms of a medical condition, for example, alcohol is used as a medication to decrease anxiety. Often times our patients use alcohol because they have rushing thoughts or anxiety or the inability to sleep at night so they will begin using alcohol in ever-increasing amounts so they can at least get some rest.
In reality what’s happening is they’re disrupting their sleep cycles because the use of alcohol prevents the brain from resting and prevents the brain from getting into a REM 4 sleep. What it’s actually doing is knocking the patient out so they believe they are resting, but what happens is you wake up even more fatigued and become more and more anxious and the only way to fix that is by consuming more alcohol. That then becomes a cycle of using medication to decrease the anxiety or depression and the increasing cycle then develops the dependency on the use of a substance to assist with their mental illness.
It’s extremely common that patients at a very early age, also the patients here, began using something at an early age. Age of onset at Addiction Treatment Strategies is about year 14 where our patients are using alcohol or marijuana to decrease symptoms. What we have found here are the most commons symptoms for our patients are anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder for males. We then have a combination of anxiety, ADHD, and addiction and they all three seem to go with males.
Treat Co-Occurring Conditions
What we have to do is treat that co-occurring condition by addressing both the addiction issues, which is a neurobiological as well as a psychological issue, of anxiety and depression at the same time because as you decrease one, the other two may increase, hence co-occurring condition. What you have to be able to do is treat the whole patient for all of those symptoms at the same time so that the patient gets healthy and stable through an extended period of time and that takes a great deal of sophistication. Often times this extends twelve to eighteen months.
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