Mount Sinai Wellness Center

Why mental health disorders & addiction must be treated together

Mental disorders and addiction go hand in hand—in fact, research suggests that 50 percent or more of all patients with psychiatric disorders also abuse some type of drug. Despite this knowledge, it’s only recently that more rehab centers have begun to develop dual diagnosis programs to treat addiction and mental disorders together. But why is it so important to treat both at the same time?

The main reason is that mental disorders and drug addictions exacerbate one another—mental disorders can increase your risk of drug addiction, and vice versa.

Turning to drug and alcohol use, for example, is a common coping mechanism for people battling disorders like depression and PTSD. Some people with depression abuse alcohol or drugs to produce a euphoric high, while those with PTSD might drink to forget about the trauma they’ve experienced. When these individuals check into rehab and only their addictions are treated, the root of the problem—their mental health—isn’t being addressed. This greatly increases the risk of relapse after rehab completion.

Along the same vein, a person who is only treated for their mental disorder may see their symptoms return if they abuse drugs or alcohol, as substance abuse is proven to trigger mental illnesses. Alcohol, for instance, is a depressant that can cause depression over time.

Some common co-occurring disorders include:

  • Cocaine addiction and depression
  • Alcoholism and PTSD
  • Drug obsession and schizophrenia

Signs of a Dual Diagnosis

One of the most challenging parts about identifying a dual diagnosis is the fact that many symptoms of addiction and mental disorders are the same. This is why rehab centers and doctors question patients in length to get an understanding of their history.

Some common signs of a dual diagnosis include:

  • Having a history of trauma: If you were abused as a child or experienced a traumatic event, this greatly increases your risk of developing a drug or alcohol addiction
  • Using drugs or drinking to overcome feelings of anxiety, fear, or stress
  • Having a family history of mental illness: Mental disorders are hereditary—if a relative of yours has been diagnosed with a mental illness, you have a higher risk of developing a mental health issue
  • Intense or prolonged feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness: If you’re experiencing extreme feelings of despair that last for long periods of time, you may have a mental health issue
  • You’ve relapsed after being treated for addiction: Relapse is common among all who go through rehab, but a mental disorder may increase your risk of using drugs or alcohol again

How Dual Diagnosis Treatment Works

Thankfully, we’re living in an era where rehab centers acknowledge the importance of treating both issues at once. One of the benefits of a dual diagnosis program is that it acknowledges your addiction must be treated differently than others when a mental disorder is involved.

Some of the most effective dual diagnosis programs offer detox services to help patients get sober, as well as behavioral therapies and medicines to help address the mental issues at hand. Support groups can also drive human connection and help patients learn how to deal with day-to-day challenges.

We Treat Co-Occurring Disorders

Mount Sinai Wellness Center has several programs designed to help our patients address their behavioral health problems. In our dual diagnosis problem, we can ensure that all aspects of your health are addressed to increase your chances of a successful recovery.

Some of the therapies we offer in our program include cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and an intensive trauma track for those suffering from PTSD or complex trauma. Every person is unique, and our team is prepared to address your unique needs by customizing your treatment plan.