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Are Mental Illness and Substance Use Related?

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Are Mental Illness and Substance Use Related?

A woman considers types of mental illness before seeking treatmentThere is a strong connection between mental illness and substance use. There are many types of mental illness that can cause or heighten the severity of substance use disorders. For many, using substances is their way of coping with unaddressed mental illness.

Many drug rehab centers offer a treatment plan to address both the substance use disorder and the mental illness. In addition to counseling and therapy, treatment centers also teach lifestyle skills and encourage activities to help clients better manage their daily stress.

What Types of Mental Illness Affect Substance Use?

There is a sweeping number of ways mental illness and substance use are related. Often, someone begins using a substance to overcome the insecurities or challenges of their mental illness. Many substances produce euphoric or desirable effects that can momentarily dull any hardships or confusion they’re dealing with.


Anxiety is a common mental illness that people use substances to cope with. People dealing with anxiety may use opiates such as prescription medications, heroin, or morphine because they put the user in a deep state of relaxation. Unfortunately, these drugs are highly addictive and can quickly lead to substance addiction. To overcome this kind of addiction, a person should look for an anxiety treatment program that can address their specific needs.


Many people with substance use disorders may also have issues with self-image or self-esteem. For example, a student may be insecure about their performance in school. In order to be more productive and have better focus, they may abuse amphetamines such as Adderall.

Peer Pressure

For young people, there is an added risk of peer pressure that leaves them vulnerable to all substances. A desire to fit in or fear of being bullied may expose them to a dangerous substance that later snowballs into an addiction.

Panic Disorders

Sometimes, users happen across a substance legally but then use it improperly. Xanax is a common benzodiazepine that medical professionals prescribe to treat people with panic disorders. Similar to opiates, Xanax creates desirable, euphoric effects that incentivize the user to abuse the substance.

While these are just a few examples of the types of mental illness that relate to addiction, there are many more that a professional care facility can identify with a dual diagnosis assessment and then provide co-occurring disorder treatment.

How Do I Manage Mental Illness and Addiction?

The first step to managing types of mental illness and addiction is getting a dual diagnosis assessment. Often, a professional at a drug rehab center does this. They can determine what type of care you need. It’s likely that you will need a combination of counseling and lifestyle skills education to help you manage the mental illness as well as addiction.

Managing a mental illness can be a lifelong endeavor. When you add addiction to the mix, only professional help will do. A rehab center like Red Oak Recovery® will help you determine the best strategies for handling stress in your everyday life in a healthy and sustainable manner. If you’re ready to overcome your addiction and learn how to handle your mental illness, contact us at 866-457-7590 today to start your dual recovery.