Substance use disorders and mental illnesses are closely associated as individuals addicted to drugs are at risk of developing anxiety and mood disorders two times higher as compared to non-addicts, and vice-versa.
Co-occurrence: A coincidence or more
The high prevalence of co-occurring drug use disorders and mental illnesses is not dependent on a causal association between these. Moreover, it does not specify any particular sequence at the start of the problem, simply because several factors may contribute to AMI and SUDs, and most of them are independent.
For example, it is essential to see if signs have progressed to a definite level (per DSM) to confirm the diagnosis of any mental illness. However, subclinical signs may also lead to substance use. Although it is always hard to tell which comes first between SUDs and AMI. However, three probabilities seem to exist.
Drug use may lead to mental illness
Drug or substance use may be the reason for causing one or more indications of a mental disorder in the user. The evidence associated with the possibility comes from the known connection between the high risk of marijuana and psychosis in some users.
Mental illness leading to drug use
Researchers have also been speaking about the potential role of mental illnesses leading to drug use. Individuals reporting subclinical, evident, or even mild mental illnesses are susceptible to substance use disorder as self-medication. Slowly, as the individual feels more enabled by the use of the substance, he/she becomes dependent on it, developing an addiction.
There are definite factors including brain deficits, genetic vulnerabilities, and/or early exposure to trauma or stress, which may cause both SUDs and AMI.
All these three states may express themselves in making a situation for a co-occurring SUD and AMI.
Exploring common factors
Genetics plays role in both, a SUD and an AMI. Genetic factors can be a noteworthy common connection between these two states, which is known to add to the development of both mental illnesses and addiction. According to scientists, genetics make a 40-60 percent impact on one’s susceptibility to addiction. At the same time, genes can also act incidentally contributing to the occurrence of SUD by altering the person’s response to anxiety or one’s affinity to develop novelty-seeking and risk-taking behaviors.
Similar brain regions are involved. It may be more than a concurrence that in the situation of both AMI and SUD, the same brain areas are affected. For example, any substance use disorder and mental illness such as anxiety and other psychiatric disorders affect the level of dopamine, a chemical that transmits impulses from neuron to neuron.
This correspondence of brain regions affected by SUDs and AMI may indicate a probability of some brain alterations that may result from any one of these, affecting the other.
Getting timely treatment
Different therapies have been proven effective in the treatment of comorbid conditions. However, it is essential to consider other linked factors like a person’s age and particular drug used among other stuff while going ahead with the scheduled treatment.