Is It Possible to Have Alcohol Use Disorder and Mental Illness?

Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol use disorder, and the abuse of alcohol is so common. About 16 million people in the U.S. have alcohol use disorder or in a more common phrase, an alcohol problem. Most of those are adults, many are adolescents.

What is startling is the overlap between alcohol use disorder and mental illness. About 37% of alcoholics suffer from some type of mental illness. Many of these people have multiple mental illnesses and may struggle with those issues throughout their life.

Individuals struggling with addiction and mental illness will benefit from a rehab center that helps with dual diagnosis.

What is Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis is what happens when a person has a mental issue and suffers from addiction. What happens here within the medical side of things is that it becomes very unclear if the person is addicted because of the mental illness or if their mental illness is a result of the drinking.

Alcohol use disorder for example may stem from someone who was experiencing anxiety or depression. Additionally people may suffer from PTSD, or OCD and feel that the alcohol helps them relax or escape the extent of their anxiety disorder.

The depressant elements of alcohol make it appealing to someone who is facing mental illness without the support they need.

Is Alcohol Use Disorder a Mental Illness?

Alcoholism is a medical disorder, not a mental disorder. The balance between the two is that this medical disorder affects the physical, emotional, and mental health of the person. Whereas a mental illness impacts the mental an emotional health, and any impact on physical health is a result of decisions made not on the body’s reaction to the condition.

Alcohol addiction requires treatment, but unlike other medical disorders the treatment is almost always therapy based. There’s no magic pill or solution for alcoholism. It’s a long and arduous road that is challenging for everyone. Sobriety is not an easy choice, but it is the choice that can help you start taking control over your mental illness.

Who Can Diagnose Mental Illness?

A diagnosis must come from a doctor, and a mental illness requires a diagnosis from a psychiatrist. Before you get to a psychiatrist you may go through a primary doctor, psychologist, and therapist. They may have their suspicions but for a full diagnosis you need to see a psychiatrist.

Typically recovery centers will work with psychiatrists to identify mental illness and ensure that people are getting the best chance at recovery as possible. They will likely run lab tests, conduct a physical exam, and a full psychological evaluation.

Mental illness is not an umbrella statement that gives a full scope on its own. No, within the scope of “mental illness” there are psychotic disorders, neurodevelopment disorders, bipolar disorders, depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, and compulsive disorders.

You’ll need to work with your medical team to identify the particular mental illness you have and what you can do to build a better recovery plan.

Treatment for Dual Diagnosis and Management

During treatment for addiction you’ll likely have a counselor that will coordinate different types of therapy. Then you’ll meet with them regularly to discuss the effectiveness of the therapy and how you’re feeling about it.

In dual diagnosis you’ll have a psychiatrist or a psychologist working specifically on managing your mental illness. If you’re bipolar than you might explore medicinal options, and therapy plans to help you build coping skills for your mental illness. Staying on medication and abstaining from drugs or alcohol will be critical elements in managing your dual diagnosis.

Staying clean is absolutely critical because often mental illness plays a major role in people falling off the wagon. What happens is that recovering addicts stop taking the medication for their mental illness and revert to self-medicating through alcohol. Or they stop taking their medication because it means they can’t drink. Many anti-psychotics, and anti-depressants can’t be mixed with alcohol.

Work With A Qualified Center to Start Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder and Mental Illness

A qualified rehab center should have the medical staff available to make an accurate diagnosis and dissect the trauma that you’ve experienced in the past. It’s very possible that your current alcohol use, and the overuse which comes with the disorder. As part of treatment the person facing addiction will work with a team to identify any underlying issues, mental disorders, or physical disorders which may have led to the onset of self-medicating with alcohol.

You can start your pathway to a clean life, free of alcohol, while getting the help that you need to take charge over your other challenges in life.

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