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Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders are Often Entangled

Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders are Often Entangled, Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders

Some things in our lives just seem to be natural pairings. 

Peanut butter goes with jelly.

Eggs go with bacon.

Smoke goes with fire.

You can probably think of plenty of additional examples without too much effort. These are the pairings that seem wholly undeniable. You hear one thing mentioned and you immediately think of the other thing.

But here is an example that may not have occurred to you: substance use disorders and mental health disorders.

That pairing may not have leapt immediately to mind, but these two kinds of disorders are often intertwined. It is not as pleasant of a combination as peanut butter and jelly, but it is similar in the sense that they are often found together.

Let’s take a look at the reasons why that might be the case.

Your Mental Health Disorder Might Lead to a Substance Use Disorder

If you are struggling with a mental health disorder, everything can seem incredibly difficult. Any of the various kinds of depression can make it hard to function as you deal with persistent feelings of sadness and a lack of energy and motivation. A panic or anxiety disorder can have you on edge all of the time as you experience persistent worry or sudden panic attacks—or both. A mental health disorder stemming from trauma can upend your life in numerous ways, including devastating flashbacks to the terrible moments you have experienced.

In any of those situations, you might find yourself tempted to turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to “self-medicate” so that you can better manage the symptoms of your mental health disorder. This is a particular danger if you are trying to hide your mental health troubles from others. If you feel embarrassed or are concerned that others will think less of you if they knew you were having difficulties related to your mental well-being, drugs or alcohol might seem like a reasonable (or at least secret) way to address your problems.

Once you start using drugs or alcohol in this way, you immediately put yourself at risk of developing a substance use disorder.

Your Substance Use Disorder Might Lead to a Mental Health Disorder

If you are struggling with drugs or alcohol, everything in your life may be in disarray. You may be struggling at work. Your relationships might be suffering. Your financial situation may be unstable. At the same time, drugs or alcohol are having an impact on your health—both physical and mental. All of those things can combine to spark the development of a mental health disorder.

Ongoing drug or alcohol use may stand in your way as you consider seeking out help for your mental health challenges. After all, you may be unwilling to admit to drug use, and thus be reluctant to seek out mental health care. Instead, you might let your substance use disorder continue to feed your mental health difficulties.

As the symptoms of a mental health disorder start to become apparent, you may find yourself hoping your substance use can help control them—but that hope is not well founded.

The Order of the Disorders Is Not Important

We have considered a couple of different scenarios—one in which a mental health disorder leads to a substance use disorder and one in which a substance use disorder leads to a mental health disorder.

But the order in which the disorders develop is not important at all. What is important is to seek out treatment for both kinds of disorders. Good mental health and sobriety go hand in hand—and that means treatment for each kind of disorder is absolutely essential.

Fortunately, we know a place where you can get the treatment you need. To be a bit more direct about it: We are a place where you can get the treatment you need.

Peak View Behavioral Health is Ready to Help

At Peak View Behavioral Health in Colorado Springs, we offer personalized treatment for mental health disorders and for substance use disorders. We understand the ways in which the two types of disorders are often entangled, and we bring to bear evidence-based approaches to addressing both.

If you are struggling with (or with any combination of) depression, anxiety, trauma-based issues, or substance use, Peak View Behavioral Health is here to help. We can help you improve your mental health, reclaim your sobriety, or both—and we can help you maintain those changes over time. When you are ready to get started, we are ready to serve.


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