Many patients dealing with substance abuse and addiction, have other mental health concerns. In fact, up to half of all patients with a substance abuse/dependence diagnosis can be diagnosed with a mental health diagnosis. Similarly, up to half of patients with a mental health diagnosis usually deal with substance abuse issues. These would include various anxiety disorders such as panic attacks, general anxiety, and obscessive compulsive disorder. Other examples are depression, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, etc.
It is often not possible to tell as both disorders could have developed together slowly over time. On the other hand, if there is a clear history or documentation of the symptoms of either disorder, this may be possible.
Typically while a patient is actively using illicit mind-altering drugs, it is not possible to make a definitive diagnosis of a mental health disorder. This is because many substances can acutely or chronically produce symptoms of a mental health disorder such as anxiety, or depression. Once a patient has been abstinent, or stabilized on a maintenance treatment without illicit drug use, it may be possible to make a definitive diagnosis.
For a successful treatment of substance abuse, any concurrent mental health disorders should be treated concurrently while in treatment. This approach helps the development of abstaining from drug abuse, and also preventing relapses. For our patients, we offer a variety of
1. Counseling by the physician.
2. The prescription of various psychiatric medications such as anti-depressants and mood stabilizers, if indicated.
3. Referral to outside counseling services.
4. Referral to a psychiatrist.
Generally patients that are motivated and serious about getting better regarding their mental health, are more successful in their goals regarding substance abuse and addiction. Often, patients with mental health disorders have used illicit drugs to self-treat their mental health problems. With effective counseling, patients can gain insight into this and other issues inter-relating their addiction and psychiatric health. With the patient’s insight and effective pharmacological management, treatment outcomes are more successful than without these approaches.