Drug Addiction Riding Behind Mental Illness?


Drug addiction, despite being seen by many as some sort of failing of the mind, is not listed as a mental health disorder.
Substance abuse has escaped that category despite the fact that comparatively less troublesome ailments or sicknesses like social anxiety disorder and (in some circles) insomnia are listed as possible or acknowledged mental health conditions. The facts known about drug addiction show that it is a biological and physiological condition, with the body craving the effects that these narcotics have on the brain. The divide between mental disorder and drug addiction is a very thin, blurry line, but there is a line. However, recent research is starting to reveal information that is making this line seem even thinner and more blurred than it already is. It would appear that drug addiction and mental conditions, such as social anxiety disorder and depression, are not as distinct form one another as initially thought.

In layman’s terms, when one person shows signs of being a drug addict, there’s usually some sort of mental health condition riding the coattails, though not everyone who’s crazy is a junkie, and not every drug addict is insane. The psychological problems tend to vary from patient to patient, though things like social anxiety disorder are common in teenage addicts, along with depression, performance anxiety, and a few behavioral disorders. Schizophrenia, bipolar and unipolar depression, and other personality disorders are also commonly observed to tag along with addictions, though not always with narcotics and other illegal drugs. Nicotine and alcohol addicts also tend to have a host of mental health problems riding in their wake as well.

Some recent studies are showing that damage to certain regions of the brain may be responsible for making people more likely to develop addictions, with the amygdala taking center stage in the study’s findings. This does not take away anything from the natural addictive abilities of substances such as alcohol, opioids, and nicotine, but it does serve to explain why some people appear more likely to become addicts than others on a psychological level. The studies also discovered that addictions for people with damaged amygdala are not only more prone to addiction, they are also less likely to discern from one substance to another in their abuse. Findings showed that it didn’t seem to matter what the substance was or what the effects it had on the mind and body were, so long as they had the potential to be habit-forming and the subjects were exposed to it regularly.

Obviously, since mental health problems such as social anxiety disorder and dissociative identity disorder can make someone more likely to become an addict, there are things that need consideration. A number of drug addicts can and do claim that external factors forced them into their substance abuse, with several of these reasons being highly similar to things that trigger mental illness. With psychological conditions now leading to substance abuse, is there now reason to believe that those who are genetically predisposed towards mental illness are, logically, also more likely to become addicts?

The Symptoms Of Addiction


Addictions are most commonly associated with drug and alcohol addiction.
The truth is millions of people suffer from all kinds of addictions. Common addictions are to alcohol, controlled substances and prescription medicines. Additions you might not think are addictions are related to compulsive behaviors like gambling, shopping, food, the internet.

An addiction of any type is readily recognized by the fact that “it is not a matter of choice.” Individuals who are addicts do not have the ability to “decide” to stop abusing, for example, alcohol or a certain drug, or even the behaviors of gambling or shopping. Addictions affect the user, their family and friends.

What is an addiction? How does an addiction begin? When does the pattern of behavior become an addiction? Some individuals may be able to use a substance or engage in a behavior periodically over a period of years without becoming “addicted.” Other individuals are not capable of stopping and do become addicted.

Are addictions only in certain social, educational or ethnic groups? Absolutely not! There is no such thing as a typical addict.

The causes of addiction have been studied for several years. Addiction is caused by the emotion the substance or behavior brings about in the user. The body and mind become dependent on that feeling and seeks to maintain it.

There are addiction risk factors that make some people more likely than others to become addicts. Studies show that sometimes addictions can be hereditary. The child of an alcoholic may not grow up to be an alcoholic; however, they may become addicted to gambling or some other type of compulsive behavior as an adult.

Besides hereditary, individuals who grow up in families with abuse, neglect and who are impoverished are more likely to become addicts.

For most addicts, it can be extremely difficult to recognize that what they have associated as simply a habit is actually an addiction. While every individual is different there are some symptoms that are prevalent among most addicts and addictions:

Symptom # 1

Unable to meet responsibilities at home, school or office.

Symptom # 2

Continues to use substances or engage in behavior even when it is dangerous.

Symptom # 3

The need increases to engage in behavior or use more of a substance to achieve the same effect or feeling.

Symptom # 4

Has tried but failed to stop using the substance or end the behavior.

Symptom # 5

Continues to engage in the behavior or use the substances even when they are aware of the dangers.

Answering yes to three or more of the above symptoms during a 12 month period may show that you or a loved one has an addiction. The first step to treating an addiction is recognizing that it exists.

There is no cure for an addiction. Treatment and counseling can help an addict to learn how to control their behavior, withstand impulses and recognize the presence of a problem, but an addict is never cured. Treating an addiction can take years and requires ongoing support from friends, families and support groups.

A 12 step program can be particularly beneficial in treating an addiction. One of the most well known 12 step programs is AA, also known as Alcoholics Anonymous. There are similar programs for all types of addictions.

Living with an addiction requires a daily commitment and there is always the possibility of relapsing. An addict that has been “clean” for even 20 years can succumb to temptation just as they did decades before.

There are several treatment programs and centers that can help with the numerous types of addictions that are prevalent today. Many of them are anonymous. Support groups are also available to help family and friends who experience the effects of an addiction in a loved one.

The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to medically diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Always consult a health care practitioner before beginning any health care program.

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