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Dual Diagnosis: Is Your Alcoholism Caused By a Mental Illness?

Nevertheless, the clinician scheduled followup appointments
with the patient to continue monitoring his mood and sleep patterns. Clinicians working in
acute mental health settings often encounter patients who present with psychiatric
complaints and heavy alcohol use. The following sections discuss one approach
to diagnosing these challenging patients (also see the figure). Other psychological problems included borderline personality disorder (BPD) and antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) assessed via the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Personality Disorders (SCID-II) over the lifetime [39]. Finally, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was measured by the six-item Adult Self-Report Scale [40]. CMDs included depression, anxiety, and social phobia and were measured by the Clinical Interview Schedule-Revised.

Inpatient rehab takes place in a residential facility where 24/7 care is provided. This type of treatment is well-suited for individuals who have battled co-occurring disorders, such as depression and alcoholism, over the course of many years. Inpatient facilities offer therapy sessions, support groups and medication-based therapy to treat alcoholism, as well as any underlying mental health conditions. To answer these questions, it’s important to recognize that there are countless types of diseases and mental illnesses, all of which can manifest very differently in different people.

Effects of Alcohol Addiction on The Brain

Stress is an inevitable part of life, so it’s important to have healthy coping skills so you can deal with stress without turning to alcohol or drugs. Stress management skills go a long way towards preventing relapse and keeping your symptoms at bay. If your doctor needs to prescribe medication for your mental health problem, mixing it with alcohol or drugs could have serious effects.

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Sometimes treatment programs for co-occurring disorders provide groups that continue to meet on an aftercare basis. Your doctor or treatment provider may also be able to refer you to a group for people with co-occurring disorders. Treatment for your substance abuse may include detoxification, managing of withdrawal symptoms, behavioral therapy, and support groups to help maintain your sobriety. Learn how to tackle addiction when you’re also dealing with depression, anxiety, or another mental health problem. Similar to widely-known mental health disorders, alcoholism makes an appearance in the 5th and most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). While a clinically depressed person doesn’t necessarily become an alcoholic, alcohol and depression are linked; more than 80 percent of alcoholics have psychiatric complaints at some point.

Is Alcohol Addiction a Mental Illness?

We do offer affordable self-pay and financing options, so reach out and get started on your journey to lasting recovery. Regardless of your situation, we will help you in finding your own personalized treatment solutions – whether that’s our program or is alcoholism a mental illness another – at no cost or obligation to you. One of the caring treatment coordinators at our Southern California drug rehab centers will contact you shortly and walk you through the process of finding the best treatment options that meet your needs.

Is drinking a coping mechanism?

You might think that alcohol helps you cope with stress, but it is not a good coping mechanism, as it is known to increase the symptoms of panic and anxiety disorders, depression and other mental disorders, and the risk of family and domestic violence.

In cases such as these, it may be beneficial to discuss the matter with an alcohol counselor or treatment provider. Dual diagnosis also referred to as co-occurring disorders are when substance abuse and a mental health disorder occur simultaneously. Alcohol abuse carries many well-known dangers to brain function, but ample evidence suggests mental health conditions can also affect alcohol dependency. Some fear the stigma of having a mental illness, or they may not even know they’re ill. On top of this, alcoholism is stigmatized in many social circles and among family members and friends. At this point, the drinker has become ever more dependent on alcohol both physically and psychologically.


Many mental health-centered treatments for AUD can help recovery, from motivational interviewing to mindfulness training. No matter what stage of alcoholism you are in, the good news is there are options available to you to get the help that you need. The first step in the process of getting help for alcoholism is to enter into a detox program. Detox is designed to rid the body of any and all harmful substances, including alcohol. Due to the way the body reacts to detoxing, it is important to do so under the care and supervision of trained medical professionals.

  • Due to AUD’s progressive nature that requires treatment, and how it interferes with the user’s daily life, the answer to this question is yes.
  • Read on to learn why AUD is considered a mental health condition, which mental health conditions commonly occur alongside it, and treatment options.
  • They may also avoid treatment, fearing social interaction and confrontation.
  • To answer these questions, it’s important to recognize that there are countless types of diseases and mental illnesses, all of which can manifest very differently in different people.
  • Whether alcohol use disorder is mild, moderate, or severe is based on the number of questions answered with a yes.

A comprehensive approach to integrated treatment can also be delivered by a multidisciplinary team of clinicians and professionals working together on an individual’s treatment plan. If behavioral or mental symptoms aren’t appropriately treated, long-term alcohol abuse can lead to physical complications such as cirrhosis of the liver, chronic brain deterioration and, the most serious consequence of all, death. In short, the need for addictive substances becomes hardwired in the brain, to the point that the brain can’t distinguish between healthy rewards and drug rewards. The lack of association between hazardous drinking and physical NCDs may be attributable to the way the MHPs and HD groups were created. Guided by the limited sample size, individuals were considered as hazardous drinkers if they scored ≥ 8 on the AUDIT including those who drink at an increasing risk level rather than only those with higher risk drinking or possible dependence.

What Are the 4 Phases of Addiction?

Similarly, white individuals were more likely to be in these classes with NCDs. People in the classes with NCDs were more likely to have no qualifications, although there were more people with degree or above attainment in the ‘Digestive & Bowel Problems’ class. The ‘Physically Healthy’ class included more individuals with GCSE or higher qualification. Individuals who were out of work and social renters were more likely to belong to the classes with physical NCDs, although the number of private/other renters was higher in the ‘Digestive & Bowel Problems’ class.

is alcoholism a mental illness

In addition, alcohol-dependent men are four to eight times more likely to exhibit comorbid ASPD, and alcohol-dependent women are 12 to 17 times more likely. However, it may be driven by a host of other health problems, including mental illness. This combination presents a diagnostic challenge even to well-trained clinicians who deal with a wide spectrum of cases.

At Northbound Treatment, we offer fully integrated alcohol and drug recovery programs at our treatment centers based in the Orange County region of California. Keep reading for more information on how alcohol addiction affects the brain, the stages of alcoholism, and the mental health conditions that often occur in conjunction with the disease. At Northbound Treatment, many clients receive dual diagnosis treatment throughout their recovery journeys. This means that any co-occurring psychological conditions are addressed in conjunction with alcoholism. When a mental health problem is ignored, the drug or alcohol addiction can worsen. When alcohol or drug use increases, the symptoms of mental illness can intensify.

This is also when mental health issues start to kick in, such as feelings of anxiety, depression, aggression, and irritability. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute of Health (NIH), the most common chronic diseases in the US are hypertension, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, pulmonary conditions, and mental illnesses. As mentioned above, substance use disorder and alcohol use disorder are mental disorders, and therefore alcoholism is among some of the most common chronic conditions in the US. As we mentioned, health insurance plans are legally required to cover substance abuse and mental health disorders, so there’s a good chance your policy includes alcohol rehab.

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