The Tangled Web of Anxiety, Depression and Substance Use

Edited by Paul Alexander

Last updated May 5, 2016

While addiction and mental health disorders are often viewed separately, substance use disorders are considered a mental illness. This is because of the way that substance abuse impacts the brain. It is not unusual for a person struggling with addiction to also have a mental illness. However, these conditions are treatable, and it is possible to live a happier, healthier life.

Which Comes First: Anxiety and Depression or Substance Use?

It can be very difficult to determine whether mental illness or substance abuse occurred first. Some people turn to drugs and alcohol as a way of self-medicating and trying to cope with the symptoms of mental illness. For others, substance use exacerbates these symptoms and makes mental illness worse. Alcohol can actually increase feelings of anxiety or depression, leading to more substance abuse and a vicious cycle that can be hard to break. There is not always a clear connection or cause and effect. Both conditions impact the brain, how people think and act, and quality of life.

Treating Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders

The good news is that through dual diagnosis treatment, it is possible to treat both disorders. Addressing these conditions simultaneously is important in supporting recovery and preventing relapse. It allows clients to better understand how they are interrelated and impact one another. Clients can determine what works best for them and their needs since everyone experiences co-occurring disorders differently.

Only treating one disorder and not the other can increase risk of relapse because underlying issues are being overlooked. Quitting drinking does not necessarily resolve anxiety or depression. They are still mental illnesses that need therapy and monitoring. There may be similar strategies in treating the conditions, but it is important to understand how they work together. When both conditions are treated together, clients can work toward creating a healthier lifestyle. If you are struggling with substance abuse and depression, anxiety, or another mental illness, Northbound’s dual diagnosis treatment could be the right place for you to start your recovery journey.

It’s difficult to come to the conclusion that you need help. There is hope. We understand and we’re here to help. Give us a call today to get started.

Article Reviewed by Paul Alexander

Paul AlexanderPaul Alexander is the founder and CEO of Northbound Treatment. He received his Certified Addiction Treatment Specialist training at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA, and was awarded Outstanding Alumni Service Award in 2002. Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology, Law and Society, Summa Cum Laude, from University of California, Irvine, and a Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. He believes wholeheartedly in transformational leadership, organizational health and effective, fully integrated substance use disorder treatment.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *