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Dual Diagnosis: The Relationship Between Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorder

According to research by the National Institute of Mental Health, about 51.5 million adults in the U.S. live with a mental illness. When this information is compared to the 20 million adults who have substance use disorder, it’s not as surprising that nearly 50% of people who have a mental illness also have issues with substance abuse.

The Impact of Co-Occurring Disorders The brain’s chemical mechanisms are highly complex and make drawing any causal links between mental illness and substance use difficult. A wide range of underlying genetic and socio-economic factors can affect a person’s wellbeing. However, several studies have shown that young people who struggle with their mental health are more likely to experiment with drugs or alcohol. Substance use at a young age is also a strong indicator of substance abuse later in life. As a preventative measure, it can be helpful for people between the ages of 17 and 25 to speak with a therapist. Because there’s a statistically significant link between substance use and mental illness, examining a person’s behavioral health early on may lead to more positive outcomes.

Mental Illness and Self-Medication Treating a mental illness or substance abuse is a long-term effort that typically involves medication and lifestyle changes. Co-occurring disorders can complicate a patient’s recovery. Often, people who live with a mental illness use drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism. Because many people don’t have access to a therapist they can see regularly, substances may serve as a practical alternative. However, this behavior tends to exacerbate the symptoms of mental illness, which can make treatment more difficult. Affordable, accessible psychiatry services are an integral first step toward improving mental health. Affordable Care for You or a Loved One At Heart of Ohio Family Health, our mission is to serve our community with exceptional, compassionate care. As a nonprofit medical provider, we recognize the importance of offering accessible behavioral health services to people who may have a mental illness or substance use disorder. Because our priority is to ensure that patients can receive treatment, we have flexible payment options and accept Medicaid, Medicare, and most insurance plans. To schedule an appointment at one of our five locations in the Columbus metro area, call (614) 235-5555.

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