The Psychological Aspect of Addiction

 In Addiction & Recovery Ins and Outs, Psychology & Alcohol Abuse

Mental Health and Addiction

The common disease model used in the addiction field is bio-psycho-social-spiritual model. There are many factors that contribute to a person’s risk for developing addiction and their ability to recover from addiction. Today, we are looking a little closer at the psychological aspect of addiction.

Mental health problems can make someone much more likely to develop addiction. Simultaneously, we know that substance abuse, especially when it is chronic, can cause psychological conditions. In active addiction, many people develop depression, anxiety, PTSD, and degrees of psychosis.

Co-Occurring Disorders with Addiction

Sixty to eighty percent of people addicted to alcohol or drugs have other psychological disorders simultaneously. When someone has substance use disorder and another psychological condition, it is called co-occurring disorders.

This is a huge factor of addiction and recovery. The most common disorders that are co-occurring with substance use disorder are depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, and PTSD. In fact, fifty percent of alcoholics suffer from depression.

Treating Co-Occurring Disorders with Addiction

When someone has a co-occurring disorder, both disorders influence and affect each other. When treating someone with a co-occurring disorder, the substance use is arrested immediately. This is necessary to determine which condition preceded the other.

The famous question in addiction treatment is: chicken or egg? Which is the cause?

Mental Illness Leads to Addiction

Many alcoholics began drinking to self-medicate for depression, though they may not have known it. That is because alcohol actually helps to alleviate some symptoms of depression. Eventually it stops helping, but by then the addiction has formed.

People who have conditions that cause anxiety often turn to drugs to feel calmer and more comfortable. Living with psychological disorders can be frustrating and isolating, and so many people use drugs just to feel better temporarily.

Self medication is never an effective solution to the disease cause by psychological disorders. It isn’t healthy and the negative effects greatly outweigh any positives.

Addiction Leads to Mental Illness

On the other hand, addiction to substances leads to isolation, as drinking or using drugs becomes a person’s priority. Isolation can cause depression. The shame cycle that happens in active addiction also leads to depression. People in active addiction often put themselves in risky situations that may lead to violence and abuse, which are never processed in a healthy way and so cause PTSD.

Of course, the chemical imbalances in the brain that tolerance to alcohol or drugs causes is a big part of this as well. Anxiety and depression are caused by these chemical imbalances, especially when withdrawal symptoms occur. Delusional thoughts and behaviors are also caused by these chemical imbalances.

Mind-altering substances like alcohol and drugs change a person’s perceptions by chemically interfering with the brain’s regular function. It only makes sense, then, for these substances to simulate or actually cause psychological conditions that are so closely tied with functions in the mind.

Find Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders

Most addiction treatment centers consider co-occurring disorders as we continue to discover how dramatically linked addiction is to them. Call (877)670-8451 to talk to someone about treatment for addiction that includes mental health assessment and treatment for co-occurring disorders.

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