If you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or another form of mental illness, you might already know that it requires the right treatment. Depression will likely require antidepressant medication along with psychotherapy. Anxiety and bipolar disorder will also often require medication and talk therapy. However, when a person has an addiction, that illness must be addressed as well. In fact, they need to be addressed simultaneously. If they are not, there’s a chance that either the mental illness or the addiction will make the other worse.
It’s very common for men and women to experience both illnesses – addiction and a psychological disorder – at the same time. In fact, commonly someone will have depression, begin to drink to feel better, and that drinking will lead to an alcohol addiction. It’s just as common for someone to struggle with an addiction and slowly become more and more depressed. Experts agree that there isn’t a general order (such as first the addiction and then a mental illness). Instead, either addiction or a psychological disorder can trigger the other.
However, no matter how it starts, both need to be treated at the same time. The following are the facets of treatment that one might experience when faced with both an addiction and a psychological disorder.
Psychotherapy – This part of treatment can address the mental illness. It can provide one with better coping tools as well as an exploration of any underlying issues that might be contributing to the mental illness.
Behavioral Therapy – This form of treatment might be used to address the addiction. Therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy include an exploration of thoughts, feelings, and behavior. By examining one’s thoughts and feelings, a person might be able to make different choices, particularly the way they’ve chosen to cope with difficult feelings in the past. Behavioral therapy can provide one with the ability to make new choices, even when faced with negative thoughts or challenging feelings.
Medication – This might be able to address both the addiction and the mental illness, depending on the circumstances. It’s common for those who are in early recovery to take medication in order to ease the withdrawal process. At the same time, someone who is depression or anxious might take medication to ease their symptoms.
Family Therapy – For some people, the underlying issues that might have contributed to addiction or mental illness stems from their family environment. Family therapy might be offered to someone whose family could use support in developing healthy relationships.
12-step Meetings – Often, addiction treatment will require the attendance at 12-step meetings. In addition to the staff at a treatment center and the professional support a person has, 12-step meetings also gives someone a community of people who are also reaching for sobriety. These meetings can also be supportive in that they can be educational and provide guidance on how to create a life without alcohol or drugs.
The above list is a sample of what a person might experience when he or she is in treatment for both an addiction and a mental illness. As mentioned above, it’s necessary that both be treated at the same time.
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