Mental Health & Addiction
Mental disorders can lead to drug abuse, possibly as a means of "self-medication". Patients suffering from anxiety or depression may rely on alcohol, tobacco, & other drugs to temporarily alleviate their symptoms.
Drug use disorders & other Mental Illnesses are called 'Developmental Disorders'- when they begin in the teen years or even younger when the brain experiences 'dramatic developmental changes'. Early drug usage/abuse might change the brain in ways that increase the risk for mental disorders. Early symptoms of a mental disorder can increase the rise for the person to self medicate with street drugs or other prescription mis-use. That is why you may want to become familiar with the definitions listed below.
Co-occurring Disorders or Comorbidity
If you struggle with drug or alcohol problems, there's a strong chance that you may also be fighting depression, anxiety, mood swings or compulsive behavior (mental Illness). It's not uncommon for people with mental health disorders to abuse street drugs (often referred to as self-medication), prescripition medications or alcohol as a way to cope with their moods or control their fears.
The term "comorbidity" describes two or more disorders or illnesses occurring (co-occurring) in the same person. They can occur at the same time or one after the other. Comorbidity also implies interactions between the illnesses that can worsen the course of both.
Drug Addiction is a Mental Illness
Addiction changes the brain in fundamental ways, disturbing a person's normal hierarchy of needs & desires, and then substituting new priorities connected with procuring & using the drug. The resulting compulsive behavior that weakens the ability to control impulses, despite the negative consequences, are like the disease model of any illness.
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Dual Diagnosis/Co-Occurring Disorder Definitions from National Organizations
Dual Diagnosis.org - 45% of people with addiction have a co-occurring disorder according to the National survey on Drug Use and Health 2010.
NIDA - National Institute on Drug Abuse "The Science of Drug Abuse & Addiction."
NIH - National Institute of Mental Health, is the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes & Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting & supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common & rare diseases.
Nora Volkow - How our brains become addicted
SAMHSA - Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration
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