Comorbidity: Relationship Between Mental Illness and Drug Abuse

Could your addiction be tied to a comorbid disorder? Learn about the relationship between mental illness and drug abuse.

Addiction may seem like an inherent flaw in our ability to break bad habits, but (given the benefit of the doubt) centers cannot account for the complexity of some disorders which wiggle their way into their host on the backs of another problem. This concept is called comorbidity. The comorbid disorder definition describes two or more illnesses or disorders present in the same person whether they are simultaneously or linearly inhabiting them. The truth is that the relationship between mental illness and drug abuse is not uncommon. In fact, people with addictions are about twice as likely to suffer from mood and anxiety disorders, and vice versa. So how do you combat something of this nature?

First, understanding this relationship between mental illness and drug abuse help diagnose other, underlying issues. Drug addiction is considered a mental disorder because it distorts the fundamental needs and desires of our brain, inserting the acquisition and practice of the drug higher on the ladder than things like family or well-being. This kind of activity can be seen in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder when the hierarchy of needs is interrupted by the constant need to obsessively think about and compulsively behave toward lesser important things.

Comorbid drug abuse and mental illness can result from the sharing of certain symptoms between two different disorders. Alcoholism and depression share many of the same symptoms, and alcoholism can prolong the course of depressive episodes. Alcoholism can also result from the constant use of alcohol to cope with depression. As you can see there is the possibility for linear and simultaneous interaction of the two, making diagnosis that much more complicated.

Methods of treating these comorbid disorders include behavioral therapy and medication. The latter can be tricky, as research on the relationship between mental illness and drug abuse comorbid and tis medical solutions is under constant research. However, some solutions have been found for treating both addiction and mental disorders at the same time. Bupropion, also known as Wellbutrin or Zyban, has been approved for treating depression as well as nicotine and methamphetamine addiction.

If you are currently being treated for addiction and notice other symptoms outside of the ones known to that drug, do not hesitate to let your doctor know of the possibility of comorbid drug abuse and mental illness.



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