Addiction

Comorbidity: Addiction & Mental Illnesses


Finding the right treatment path for an individual at the beginning of their recovery can be difficult when underlying mental health issues may be part of the substance abuse disorder.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines this as comorbidity, or when two disorders or illnesses occur in the same person simultaneously. Another term you may see used to describe the same condition is dual diagnosis.

While it is possible to have co-occurring diseases with an addiction—like hepatitis C with a heroin use disorder or smoking while having cancer—the links between mental illnesses and addiction have important implications for the success of recovery and preventing potential relapse.

How Common is Comorbidity?

Drug addiction is considered a brain disease that is characterized by the compulsive use and seeking after the drug despite the consequences. Addiction gets classified as a disease because of the effects on the user’s brain structure and function. For more on this read our Science of Addiction blog.

The data suggests that people who have been diagnosed with mood or anxiety disorders are about twice as likely than people without to also have an addiction problem. The reverse is also true: people with substance abuse disorders are about twice as likely to also have mood and anxiety disorders occurring simultaneously.

Correctly Diagnosing Comorbidity

The effects on the brain’s function and structure that addiction brings, often occurs in the same areas of the brain that mental illnesses like anxiety and depression occur. This makes accurately diagnosing what is actually going on in an individual that much more important.

Getting the correct diagnosis of the overlapping symptoms between drug addiction and mental illnesses is crucial to ensuring effective treatment and the best chance for recovery. This is why our addiction treatment tracks at Beauterre Recovery Institute provide neuropsychological assessments to incoming patients.

Contact Us today for more information on how to get your path to recovery started.