Understanding the Connection Between Alcoholism and Mental Illness

If you or someone you love is stuck in the harmful cycle of alcohol addiction, you may feel at a loss when it comes to determining the best action to take. This can be especially true for individuals living with co-occurring disorders or a dual diagnosis. Fortunately, effective and highly individualized treatment is attainable in the St.Louis area. Read on to learn more about the connection between alcohol addiction and mental illness and how you can get started working towards well-being today. 

What Are Co-Occurring Disorders? 

A co-occurring disorder, also known as dual diagnosis, refers to the presence of both a substance use disorder and mental illness. There are two main reasons for this: mental illness causes of alcoholism and alcohol addiction can permanently disrupt chemicals in the brain which results in mental illness. For example, alcoholic personality disorder, also known as borderline personality disorder and drinking often accompany each other, as well as chronic depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders. The mental illness may be diagnosed first and the sufferer uses alcohol consumption as a means of coping or self-medicating. Fortunately, treatment designed to address mental illness and addiction simultaneously is available. 

How Does Dual Diagnosis Treatment Work? 

Dual diagnosis rehabilitation provides in-depth mental health services on-site in addition to recovery support. Some of the most popular therapies used for alcoholism and mental illness include the following: 

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)

Each type of therapy focuses on different aspects of the healing process. Individual counseling, a type of one-on-one therapy, provides a safe space for clients to discuss anything that is on their mind with a compassionate counselor. It is an excellent tool for learning how to work through challenging situations such as cravings in a healthy manner. CBT on the other hand centers around identifying and ultimately replacing self destructive behavioral patterns with new ones. Individuals who have a dual diagnosis often benefit from this option especially because it can equip them with new coping skills and end the vicious cycle of self medicating with alcohol. 

Group therapy and group based activities in general are offered in both outpatient and inpatient rehabilitation programs because they help clients socialize with others in recovery and develop a support system. Group therapy also shows you that you are not alone on your journey to lifelong sobriety and wellness. During group sessions, a counselor may utilize trust building activities or simply encourage members to share their experiences based on relevant topics. 

At Northbound, we are proud to provide individualized addiction treatment services to the St. Louis region. Whether you are ready to find the right program for your needs or have questions about the treatment process, our team of addiction specialists is ready to assist you. Contact us today! 

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.

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