Mental Health and Addiction FAQ

Before getting into the types of mental health disorders that commonly co-occur with substance abuse, let’s take a look at three frequently asked questions about mental illness. Click on any of the following questions to see our answer.

Is substance abuse really a mental health problem?

It can be hard for some to wrap their heads around addiction being a mental illness. That’s not surprising considering how much misinformation about addiction is spread by word of mouth or online. In reality, the medical community has recognized addiction as a mental illness based on the way that the disorder changes how the brain works.
The compulsions that occur after these chemical changes are made cannot be controlled with willpower alone. That’s why effective, personalized treatment for addiction (and any parallel mental health disorders) is so important. The individual is unlikely to heal completely without this support.

What are some of the warning signs of mental illness?

The early warning signs and symptoms of mental illness can be very subtle. If you or a loved one has a family history of mental illness, your risk for developing a mental health disorder is greater.
The American Psychiatric Association recognizes the following symptoms as early signs of mental illness:

    • Inability to perform at work or school
    • Greater sensitivity to light, noise and audio
    • Desire to withdraw from others
    • Intense anxiety or nervousness
    • Unpredictable mood swings

How does addiction affect mental health?

Substance use disorders have a “the chicken vs. the egg” type of relationship with other mental disorders. The symptoms of untreated addiction can often evolve into a separate mental health disorder. On the other hand, the symptoms of a mental illness like depression or bipolar disorder may encourage a person to abuse drugs or alcohol.
More important than figuring out which came first is identifying how to treat both illnesses. Attempting to treat each disorder individually is ineffective. Untreated symptoms from one disorder tend to make the other illness harder to address.
Individuals who seek treatment for both disorders at the same time experience more success. When looking for help for both an addiction problem and a mental health disorder, seek out a program that offers “dual diagnosis treatment.”


Depression Assessment

There’s a big difference between occasional feelings of sadness, emptiness and loneliness and a full-blown depressive disorder. We’re here to clear the confusion and help you assess your situation.

We’ve put together a 14-question assessment that you can take right now to determine if the depressed feelings you’re experiencing right now are a cause for concern, or if they will likely pass without the need for clinical intervention.

Start the assessment now to see if you should seek help for depression.

Or get the conversation started by contacting us via confidential chat or phone: 1-844-313-4448 or by joining our community forum.

*Call 911 if you’re feeling suicidal.