The Correlation Between Mental Health and Addiction – California Mental Health Treatment

The Correlation between Mental Health and Addiction - California Mental Health Treatment
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California mental health treatment centers are seeing an uptick in treating a certain kind of patient -those with dual diagnosis. If you are a person with a substance abuse disorder and also struggle with your mental health (e.g., depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder), the road to recovery can be much longer and require a specialized level of care.

Why is this the case?

When a person has co-occurring disorders, each presents its own set of symptoms that can get in the way of the ability to function. Many mental health practitioners and rehab centers aren’t well-versed in research-based practices for treating dual diagnosis.

The result is an increased number of patients slipping through the cracks and continuing to struggle with mental health and substance disorders. As each disorder remains untreated, things often worsen, and patients suffer.

Understanding the Correlation

So, just how prevalent is dual diagnosis?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) cites that those diagnosed with mood or anxiety disorders are about twice as likely to also suffer from a drug use disorder (abuse or dependence) compared to those without mental health issues.1 The same is true for those with conduct disorders and certain personality disorders.

It’s essential to keep in mind that while addiction and mental and behavioral health issues are linked, they don’t necessarily cause each other. Although sometimes one can lead to another.

The Research on Dual Diagnosis 

Since the 1980s, studies have proved a few things to be true:

Drug abuse can cause those with substance abuse disorders to experience one or more symptoms of another mental illness.

For example, there is a link between marijuana use and an increased risk of psychosis in some people.2  Alcohol can trigger memory loss. It can also bring on anxiety and depression. Amphetamines can cause mania in those with and without bipolar disorder.

Mental illnesses can lead to drug abuse as those struggling with symptoms look for ways to self-medicate.

A 2012 longitudinal study found a correlation between whether self-medication with drugs confers a risk of comorbid mood and drug use disorders. Researchers discovered that among those with comorbid mood and drug use disorders at baseline, self-medication with drugs was associated with the persistence of drug abuse.

They also determined that 25% of new-onset drug dependence in those with mood disorders was caused by respondents trying to ease their mental health symptoms.

Overlapping factors such as underlying brain deficits, genetic vulnerabilities, and early exposure to stress or trauma may cause drug use disorders and other mental illnesses.

Trauma links have been a specific source of concern for the Substances and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). SAMHSA states:

Research has shown that traumatic experiences are associated with both behavioral health and chronic physical health conditions, especially those traumatic events that occur during childhood. In addition, substance use, mental health conditions, and other risky behaviors have been linked with traumatic experiences.

A specific SAMHSA study found that those with substance use disorders were often exposed to one or more potentially traumatic events (PTEs). In addition, there was also a clear link to anxiety (17%) and depression (15%)  that was much higher than the precedence of other issues such as diabetes (5%) or high blood pressure (5.1%.)

Why California Mental Health Treatment Matters

What can be done about this?

Although reducing the prevalence of both mental health and addiction issues, there is hope. Before the 1960s, specialists believed that treatment had to happen separately. We now know better.

California mental health treatment centers committed to introducing integrated services for persons with co-occurring substance use and psychiatric disorders are paving the way. This looks like this:

  • Hiring substance abuse and mental health specialists to work together to ensure all patient needs are met.
  • Marrying psychotherapy and medication when treating co-occurring disorders
  • Involving all household members in the treatment process. This can include partners, spouses, and children.


Don’t wait until alcohol or substance use disorders have permanently robbed you of your chance at a stable life. Contact us today to get help at Clear Life Recovery, an alcohol rehab in Costa Mesa, Orange County. We are experts at dual-diagnosis treatment and believe in treating the whole person, not just a symptom. Talk to your doctor or your mental health care provider about the benefits of California Mental Health Treatment alongside addiction treatment.