Which Comes First: The Addiction or the Co-Occurring Disorder

Determining whether addiction or mental health disorders come first has been a baffling task for scientists over the years.  With the plethora of substances and wide array of various mental health disorders, the causal order can be easily blurred.  Recent studies have begun to help researchers understand the connections of a dual diagnosis.
Dual diagnosis is described as a person who suffers from a mental health disorder as well as addiction.  Each of them are separate illnesses, so they need separate treatment.  Some mental health disorders have been shown to present themselves in childhood, long before the use of addictive substances.  Disorders such as Schizophrenia and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) typically develop first and cause the individual to be more prone to addiction.  Some people who suffer from these illnesses actually use drugs as a form of medication for their disorder.  Many problems can arise from doing this because certain drugs, such as marijuana, can trigger paranoia or hallucinations, both of which a person may already suffer from.  It is unclear why an individual would choose a substance that could exacerbate their disorder, but those who have a dual diagnosis do not typically rationalize clearly.
There are some mental health illnesses that have been said to be caused by addictions to various substances.  Cocaine, for example has the ability to cause anxiety disorders.  Someone under the influence of cocaine may become very paranoid and think people are talking or coming after them.  People who suffer from depression, for some reason, are more likely to use depressant drugs, such as heroin or alcohol.  Taking a central nervous system depressant when you’re already depressed can lead to severe depression and suicidal thoughts.
There is no black and white answer about whether addiction or a mental health disorder comes first in dual diagnosis.  Each case is reviewed on an individual basis to determine the cause and severity of each.  While dual diagnosis can be quite challenging to treat, many treatment centers are trained to provide assistance for both.  Some people who suffer from a mental health disorder find it hard to maintain the use of proper medication for their illness.  Once their medicine regulates and they feel better, they often abruptly stop using it, resulting in a chemical imbalance in the brain.  The cycle of coming off and on medication is quite unhealthy and can trigger substance abuse.  Seeking treatment to help identify underlying issues associated with addiction and mental health disorders can be the best decision you make in your life.
Treatment and recovery for addiction should be simple. Simple Recovery offers dual diagnosis treatment for men and women in a multiphase format encouraging growth and development. Going back to school, back to work, or engaging in volunteer work, our clients waste no time starting their new lives as they continue to heal in mind, body, and spirit.
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