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Co-Occurring Mental Illness and Substance Use: What You Need To Know

The relationship between mental illness and substance use is a complicated one. According to a 2021 survey conducted by the Substance Use and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), around 9.2 million people in the U.S. struggle with both substance use and mental illness. When an individual experiences both of these at the same time, they’re referred to as having co-occurring disorders.

What Causes Co-Occurring Disorders?

Substance use disorders and mental illness are a two-way street. Some individuals who live with mental illness turn to alcohol and/or drugs as a form of self-medication. In other cases, people with substance use disorders may experience a deterioration in their mental health as a result of their addiction.

Moreover, mental illness and substance use disorders are often triggered by the same sorts of factors and experiences. For example, both can be caused by genetic predisposition, stress, and trauma, to name just a few.

Treatment for Co-Occurring Mental Illness and Substance Abuse 

Experts generally agree that when dealing with co-occurring disorders, it’s best to treat them together rather than focusing on one or the other separately. Ideally, an effective treatment plan will not only help the person manage their mental illness and end their substance use, but will also help them cope with any underlying factors. 

The best type of treatment will depend on the individual, their circumstances, and the type of substance use and mental illness they are dealing with. In many cases, one or more of the following treatments may be utilized:

If you or someone you know is struggling with co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse, don’t wait to get help. RADIAS Health provides person-centered integrated healthcare services to people experiencing mental illness, substance use, or co-occurring disorders. Our behavioral health services are delivered by compassionate, skilled health care and support staff. In addition, our care includes supplementary services such as case management, supportive housing, homeless services, residential services, outpatient DBT treatment, and more. If you or someone you know could benefit from our mission, contact us today or consider donating!

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