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Mental Illness And Alcohol Addiction

Which Mental Disorder Is Most Commonly Comorbid With Alcoholism

Rosalinds Story: Living with Serious Mental Illness and Alcoholism

May 24, 2021 | Blog

People with substance abuse disorders often become addicted when they attempt to self-medicate. Some get addicted to drugs or alcohol after suffering a severe physical injury. Others are prescribed anti-anxiety medications, become addicted and turn to street drugs when their doctor stops writing prescriptions. Unfortunately, since alcohol is the easiest drug to obtain, it is the most abused substance used by individuals seeking relief from mental health problems.

According to the National Institutes of Health , three mental disorders most commonly comorbid with alcoholism are major depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder. Less frequently co-diagnosed with alcoholism is post-traumatic stress disorder , dependent personality disorder and conduct disorder.

Which Substances Can Affect My Mental Health

In this section we have listed some of the different types of substances that could have an impact on your mental health. Please be aware that this list is not a list of all substances.

Taking any substances can be dangerous. They can also have bad interactions with any medications or other substances you might use.

For more information on different substances you can visit the website of Talk to Frank. They are a specialist charity that provides information on drugs. You can find their website here:


Cannabis is one of the most commonly used drugs in England. According to one study, 1 in 13 people aged 16-59 had used it in the last year. Young people aged 16-24 are more likely to use cannabis. The same study shows that just under 1 in 5 young people had used cannabis between 2018 and 2019.

Some people take cannabis because it makes them feel relaxed or happy, but It can also make you feel anxious or feel paranoid. Some people may experience things that aren’t real. This is a sign of drug-induced psychosis. Some studies have shown that the risk of psychosis may be higher if you:

  • use cannabis for a long time,
  • use it frequently, and
  • use high-strength cannabis, like skunk.

If you have been using cannabis and you feel that it is affecting your health, make an appointment to see your GP as soon as you can. Your doctor should not judge you and should not tell other people you use drugs.


New Psychoactive Substances


Tip : Manage Stress And Emotions

Learn how to manage stress. Drug and alcohol abuse often stems from misguided attempts to manage stress. Stress is an inevitable part of life, so it’s important to have healthy coping skills so you can deal with stress without turning to alcohol or drugs. Stress management skills go a long way towards preventing relapse and keeping your symptoms at bay.

Cope with unpleasant feelings. Many people turn to alcohol or drugs to cover up painful memories and emotions such as loneliness, depression, or anxiety. You may feel like doing drugs is the only way to handle unpleasant feelings, but HelpGuide’s free Emotional Intelligence Toolkit can teach you how to cope with difficult emotions without falling back on your addiction.

Know your triggers and have an action plan. When you’re coping with a mental disorder as well as a substance abuse problem, it’s especially important to know signs that your illness is flaring up. Common causes include stressful events, big life changes, or unhealthy sleeping or eating patterns. At these times, having a plan in place is essential to preventing a drink or drug relapse. Who will you talk to? What do you need to do to avoid slipping?

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Treatment Options For Co

If you are diagnosed as having both an addiction and a mental health disorder, itâs crucial that treatment addresses both simultaneously for the best chance of recovery.

Failing to treat a co-existing mental health disorder alongside addiction can make it more difficult for you to abstain from drugs, often leading to relapse. You may also find that your mood and mental health symptoms worsen as treatment for addiction progresses and youâre no longer self-medicating.

Conversely, you canât treat mental health conditions without addressing addiction, given substance abuseâs harmful impact on mental and physical health, relationships, daily functioning, and other aspects of our lives. Drug and alcohol use can also make some medications for mental health conditions less effective.

Itâs recommended by the SAMHSA and the APA, that treatment of co-occurring disorders takes an integrated approach. That means treating mental health/addiction at the same time, usually with the same team of professionals, and using multiple and personalized therapeutic and pharmacological interventions. Integrated therapy has been found to significantly reduce the rates of relapse of both substance use and mental illness.

Integrated treatment for co-occurring disorders can be accessed at both inpatient rehab facilities and on an outpatient basis. However, when a patientâs case is complex, as it is with a dual diagnosis, a period of inpatient treatment is often recommended.

When Should Someone Seek Help

How Alcohol Effect on Brain and Declines Cognitive Ability

Individuals often hide their drinking or deny they have a problem. How can you tell if you or someone you know is in trouble? Signs of a possible problem include having friends or relatives express concern, being annoyed when people criticize your drinking, feeling guilty about your drinking and thinking that you should cut down but finding yourself unable to do so, or needing a morning drink to steady your nerves or relieve a hangover.

Some people with drinking problems work hard to resolve them. With the support of family members or friends, these individuals are often able to recover on their own. However, those with alcohol dependence usually can’t stop drinking through willpower alone. Many need outside help. They may need medically supervised detoxification to avoid potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures. Once people are stabilized, they may need help resolving psychological issues associated with problem drinking.

There are several approaches available for treating alcohol problems. No one approach is best for all individuals.

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How Alcohol Affects Your Body

In the short-term, drinking too much can lead to alcohol poisoning, sleep problems, an upset stomach, bloating and migraines. It may make you behave recklessly or aggressively, have an accident or become the victim of violence.

Drinking a lot for many years will take its toll on your body. Long-term alcohol misuse increases your risk of serious health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, liver disease and cancer. It can lead to social problems such as relationship break-ups, unemployment, financial difficulties and homelessness.

Dealing with physical health problems, debt and housing issues can all affect your mental health.

Provincial And Territorial Health And Support Services

Health and support services in British Columbia

  • Drug and alcohol treatment, detox, self-help and counselling options
  • 24 hour services
  • Mental health and substance use information, resources, and peer support to families across BC
  • Speak to a health services navigator, who can help you to find health information and services, or connect you directly with a registered nurse
  • 24/7 health advice
Health and support services in Saskatchewan

  • Free mental health and addictions support 24/7 in a safe, caring and confidential manner
  • Registered nurses and social workers can offer crisis support, advice to help you manage your situation, and connections to resources in your community
  • Saskatchewan residents at risk of an opioid overdose or who might witness an opioid overdose are eligible for free training and a free Take Home Naloxone kit
  • Naloxone is also available for purchase at pharmacies across Saskatchewan
List of pharmacies that carry naloxone
Health and support services in Ontario

  • Free 24/7 access to healthcare services information, including addictions services.
  • Free and confidential support 24/7
  • Nurses can help you with any health matters, including addiction concerns
  • Help finding substance use health/addictions support, services, and care
  • Referrals to services with support for Eastern Ontario
  • Free, confidential support services for post-secondary students

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How Do Alcohol Use Disorders Affect People

While some research suggests that small amounts of alcohol may have beneficial cardiovascular effects, there is widespread agreement that heavier drinking can lead to health problems.

Short-term effects include memory loss, hangovers, and blackouts. Long-term problems associated with heavy drinking include stomach ailments, heart problems, cancer, brain damage, serious memory loss and liver cirrhosis. Heavy drinkers also markedly increase their chances of dying from automobile accidents, homicide, and suicide. Although men are much more likely than women to develop alcoholism, women’s health suffers more, even at lower levels of consumption.

Drinking problems also have a very negative impact on mental health. Alcohol abuse and alcoholism can worsen existing conditions such as depression or induce new problems such as serious memory loss, depression or anxiety.

Alcohol problems don’t just hurt the drinker. Spouses and children of heavy drinkers may face family violence children may suffer physical and sexual abuse and neglect and develop psychological problems. Women who drink during pregnancy run a serious risk of damaging their fetuses. Relatives, friends and strangers can be injured or killed in alcohol-related accidents and assaults.

What Is Alcohol Addiction

Alcoholism – The deadly truth about its stigma | Sarah Drage | TEDxFolkestone

People with an alcohol addiction typically cannot stop or control their drinking even in the face of negative consequences and may feel emotional distress or withdrawal symptoms when they are not using alcohol.

The term addict has carried unfair stigmatization for decades. Even though the American Medical Association identified alcohol addiction as a chronic medical disease in 1956, alcohol addiction continues to be viewed by many as a weakness or moral failure.

The AMA updated its definition of alcoholism in 2018, stating it is, a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individuals life experiences.

Clinicians refer to alcohol addiction as alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder . While AUD refers only to alcohol addiction, SUD may refer to either a drug or alcohol addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse urges all people, including healthcare workers, to use the terms alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder rather than addiction, to avoid stigmatization.

Alcohol is a depressant, slowing mental and physical responses, and affecting mood, energy, coordination, concentration, and decision making. Those under the influence of alcohol are more likely to engage in risky or violent behavior and to exhibit suicidal ideation.

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Alcohol Is Linked To Suicide Self

Alcohol can cause people to lose their inhibitions and behave impulsively, so it can lead to actions they might not otherwise have taken including self-harm and even suicide.13 There is a strong association between drinking heavily and suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, and death from suicide.

Extreme levels of drinking can occasionally cause psychosis, which is a severe mental illness where hallucinations and delusions of persecution, for example occur. Psychoses can be caused by both acute intoxication and withdrawal, and can be more common in cases when drinkers who are dependent on alcohol suddenly stop drinking.

If youre experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which could lead to suicide, Samaritans provides confidential, non-judgemental emotional support, 24 hours a day. You can call them on 116 123 or email them at . It is best to call them when you are able to have a conversation and have not been drinking.

Get Treatment For Alcoholism Today

Is alcoholism a mental illness? Find out more by visiting a treatment center and talking with a treatment specialist. You can get the help you need for your addiction plus long-term care that promotes a lifelong recovery. To find out more about your treatment options, visit an inpatient alcohol rehab center in your area. You can get on the road to recovery today.

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Don’t Hesitate To Get Help

Dual diagnosis necessitates much more than conventional therapy can provide. Because alcohol addiction often aggravates the symptoms of the mental health problem, rehabilitation requires a significant amount of time, patience, and compassion. However, with the proper treatment program, you or a loved one may resume a regular life.

Making an accurate diagnosis of both an addiction and a mental health disorder is critical to a patients recovery. When this happens, their chances of recovery improve. In addition, as the screening and treatment of co-existing illnesses improve, so will the stigma attached that makes people so hesitant to seek necessary care.

Are you ready to take back control of your life? Then, contact us, we will safely detox you from drugs or alcohol, and we will give you traditional and holistic therapy that is personalized, comprehensive, and effective!

What Is Binge Drinking

Alcohol Addiction, Dependency &  Abuse

Binge drinking may impact anybody, regardless of age or background. However, it is more prevalent among young people who are out with friends and are egged on to do so or want to push their alcohol limits.

Binge drinking, which is defined as consuming vast quantities of alcoholic beverages in the shortest time, has regrettably become somewhat accepted in todays culture. This is particularly so amongst students and young adults.

We see a lot of it, and its more challenging to treat since going out and drinking a lot in such a short amount of time is considered normal among the younger population. Going out to drink is still okay, but it becomes a problem when it leads to hazardous conduct and memory losses or blackouts.

The quantity of alcohol that is deemed safe varies from person to person binge drinking is defined as more than four drinks at one time for women and more than five drinks at one time for males. However, regardless of the quantity, if it causes memory loss, lack of control, or hazardous conduct, it may indicate binge drinking.

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How Does Alcohol Induce Mental Illness

There is evidence to suggest the relationship between alcoholism and mental illness comes almost exclusively from the effects of alcohol on the brain.

Alcohol can causes significant and long-term changes. It can disrupt the levels of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin.

The dysregulation of dopamine, serotonin, and GABA is heavily involved in the development of depression. So, when these neurotransmitters become out of balance, your mood can be significantly impacted.1

Alcohol can also influence neuronal circuit activityor the messaging system in your brainwhich is crucial for decision-making and behavior. It can also impact your epigenomewhich is a group of chemicals that gives your genes instructions. Both of these can influence your mental health and the worsening or developing of mental illness.8

Alcohol use can also reduce white and gray matter volumes and the microstructure of nerve fibers in the brain. It is hypothesized that changes to the white and gray matter and the nerve fibers are related to major depression.1

Excessive Drinking Can Lead To Mental Illness

Numerous studies have shown that long-term alcoholism can lead to a variety of mental illnesses including psychosis, anxiety, depression, borderline personality disorder, or even bipolar disorder. The brain can only handle so much alcohol use over time. Drinking for several years can cause brain function to slowly decline.

This is another reason why alcohol addiction treatment includes forms of therapy such as evidence-based treatment or holistic therapy. An individual ending their addiction to alcohol needs psychiatric care in addition to physical healing. This is why many treatment specialists classify alcoholism as a mental illness.

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Characteristics Of Appropriate Programs

Desirable programs for this population should take a more gradual approach. Staff should recognize that denial is an inherent part of the problem. Patients often do not have insight as to the seriousness and scope of the problem. Abstinence may be a goal of the program but should not be a precondition for entering treatment. If dually diagnosed clients do not fit into local Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous groups, special peer groups based on AA principles might be developed.

Clients with a dual diagnosis have to proceed at their own pace in treatment. An illness model of the problem should be used rather than a moralistic one. Staff need to convey understanding of how hard it is to end an addiction problem and give credit for any accomplishments. Attention should be given to social networks that can serve as important reinforcers. Clients should be given opportunities to socialize, have access to recreational activities, and develop peer relationships. Their families should be offered support and education.

Drinking & Depression: A Vicious Cycle

Changing the Stigma of Mental Health & Addiction | Erika Ball | TEDxPaloAltoCollege

Drinking heavily and regularly is associated with symptoms of depression, although it can be difficult to separate cause and effect. This means its not always clear whether drinking alcohol causes a person to experience symptoms of depression. What we do know is that alcohol affects several nerve-chemical systems within our bodies which are important in regulating our mood.2 Studies show that depression can follow on from heavy drinking.3 And that reducing or stopping drinking can improve mood.4,5,6,7,8

Medications prescribed for depression should not be mixed with alcohol.9 Some commonly prescribed anti-depressants tend to increase the risk of relapse to heavy drinking in people who are trying to cut down or abstain from alcohol, so antidepressants should be only taken with great caution and only when prescribed by your doctor.10,11,12

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Mental Illness Can Lead To Drinking

It is not uncommon for someone with a mental illness to abuse drugs, alcohol, or prescription medication. For instance, a person who is dealing with depression or anxiety disorder may turn to alcohol as a form of self-medication. They may drink to relax the mind and escape from their stress.

However, prolonged excessive alcohol use actually contributes to mental illness, making it worse on various levels. A person who drinks may not realize that they are bringing out aspects of their mental illness that intensify. They may continue to drink thinking that they are making the situation better, when, in fact, they are making it worse. This is why the first step to dealing with mental illness is to enter an inpatient alcohol rehab center.

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