Drug Addiction & Mental Illness: The Basics on Comorbidity

Not only is April Stress Awareness Month, it’s also Work Life Enrichment Month — which means it’s a great month to focus on mental health in your workplace wellness program.

One aspect of mental health that many people misunderstand is drug addiction. Many people feel that addiction isn’t a true disease, and that it’s merely a personal choice or weakness. Yet research has shown that addiction changes the chemistry of the brain, and drug addiction is often accompanied by mental illness.

To clear up some misconceptions, we’re sharing the details about drug addiction and mental illness.

How Drug Addiction and Mental Illness Are Linked

Drug Addiction: a Mental Illness?

Experts agree that drug addiction is a mental illness because it alters the brain in key ways. Overall, it interrupts your regular needs hierarchy, meaning you prioritize getting and using the drug. As a result, you’ll engage in compulsive behaviors that make it difficult for you to acknowledge negative consequences and control your impulses. These effects are similar to the effects of many other mental illnesses.

What Is Comorbidity?

When one person has multiple illnesses or disorders, either at the same time or one after another, it’s called comorbidity. Sometimes, these diseases can interact in ways that worsens or complicates the other.

Comorbidity of Drug Addiction & Mental Illness

Many drug addicts are diagnosed with mental disorders. In fact, those suffering from drug addiction are twice as likely to have mood and anxiety disorders. Test Smartly Labs | Drug Addiction, Mental Illness, & Comorbidity

Why are drug addiction and mental illness linked? Research suggests that the following could be the root of this connection:

  • Use of illegal drugs can trigger or exacerbate symptoms of other mental illnesses, such as how marijuana users exhibit more signs of psychosis.
  • Those grappling with mental illness such as depression or anxiety may turn to drug abuse as a way to self-medicate.

  • There could be shared risk factors for both drug addiction and mental illness, such as genetic predispositions or environmental triggers such as stress, mental or physical trauma, and early drug exposure.
  • Similar regions of the brain are involved with drug addiction and mental illness, particularly the areas dealing with stress response and rewards.
  • Both drug addiction and mental illness are developmental disorders that start in a person’s youth when the brain is undergoing major changes. When a person is exposed to drugs at a younger age, their brain can change, increasing the risk of both drug addiction and mental illness.

Find Help For Drug Addiction

If you or someone you know is suffering from drug addiction and mental illness, it’s time to get help. When you need to verify suspicions about a friend, loved one, or employee’s drug addiction, Test Smartly Labs offers accurate, confidential drug testing.

To learn more about our drug testing services, find your nearest Test Smartly Labs today!

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