May is Mental Health Awareness Month. While staying physically healthy is vital to living well, spreading awareness about mental health has never been more important. In fact, mental and physical health often go hand-in-hand. People who are addicted to alcohol or drugs often develop mental health disorders, making recovery even more difficult as they have to fight on two fronts.
There are many reasons why a person would choose to drink or use drugs, but usage does not automatically indicate addiction. However, increased usage and a feeling of “need” for a drink or substance can be a sign, especially if it is affecting their behavior and ability to function in their daily life.
Some symptoms of substance/alcohol abuse or dependence include:
• Continuous use even while experiencing negative effects
• Increased usage to get the same “good feeling” they desire—in other words, they have built a tolerance and need more to feel the same effects
• Being preoccupied thinking about their next chance to drink or use the substance, or how to obtain more
• Common withdrawal symptoms like trembling, sweating, high blood pressure, or hallucinations when they try to stop using
People who already have mental health problems are particularly susceptible to become addicted to alcohol or drugs. Some start using them as a way to relieve their stress or pain, which can create a vicious circle in which their usage worsens their mental condition while taking its toll on their body. Common mental health disorders linked to substance abuse include but are not limited to:
• Bipolar disorder
• Borderline personality disorder
• Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
• Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
If you suspect a friend or family member may have a problem with addiction, their mental health, or both, you can help by watching out for symptoms and expressing concern for their welfare. It’s important to express your concerns in a non-judgmental and supportive manner that is less likely to make them get defensive. Sometimes one of the best things you can do is simply listen, which lets them feel respected and understood. Discussing the issue, let alone making the decision to seek help, is an extremely vulnerable moment for them.
Contact Ridgeview Ranch (877-526-7706) if you or someone you know is struggling with addiction and/or mental health problems. We offer a wide range of services treating addiction and mental disorders, from educational programs to carefully designed therapies that give patients every chance to recover.