Mental Illness, Diseases and Substance Use Disorders Often Go Hand-in-Hand Says Heritage CARES
COPPELL, TX / ACCESSWIRE / October 27, 2021 / People with mental health issues are at high risk for substance use disorder (SUD), says Heritage CARES, the leading virtual support program designed to help individuals struggling with stress, substance …
COPPELL, TX / ACCESSWIRE / October 27, 2021 / People with mental health issues are at high risk for substance use disorder (SUD), says Heritage CARES, the leading virtual support program designed to help individuals struggling with stress, substance use and suicidal thoughts.
A 2019 national survey from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates nearly 50% of individuals with a severe mental illness reported engaging in drug or alcohol use. The diagnosis is called co-occurrence or comorbidity. Additionally, we know with certainty that COVID-19 has impacted that number and that the number of individuals struggling have skyrocketed because of it.
"Self-medicating mental illness with drugs and alcohol is prevalent," says Heritage CARES EVP and Executive Director Rich Jones, MA, MBA, LCAS, SAP. "Most of us in recovery also have some type of co-occurring diagnosis. For example, alcohol does a great job of taking the edge off anxiety and stress. Likewise, cocaine can motivate people who are depressed. The problem is that substance use makes the underlying problem worse."
CARES is an acronym for Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Education and Support. The virtual program provides participants and their families convenient access to support from trained engagement coaches on any mobile device at any time. This significantly increases the potential for long-term recovery success for patients who have been through SUD treatment programs.
Jones explains that it's very subjective as to who will develop a co-occurring disease. He says it's a matter of access, opportunity and exposure - and how a person is wired. For some, substance use will have a positive effect, but for others, a negative impact.
At Heritage CARES, the most common co-occurring disorder combinations our participants' experience are:
- Alcohol and depression
- Alcohol and anxiety
- Alcohol and bipolar disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and opioids
Which comes first: SUD or mental illness
"As we say in the industry, the first diagnosis depends on which door you enter," says Jones. "That's to say if you show up to a drug and alcohol facility, the SUD will be the primary condition diagnosed. If you seek care at a mental health facility, that condition will be the primary diagnosis."
For example, a man in his 30s has low-lying depression and a drinking issue, but neither has been formally diagnosed. He goes to a football game one night, drinks too much and drives home. Two potential scenarios might play out.