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Is your drug addiction treating a mental illness?

Drug addiction is a serious problem, whether it involves licit or illicit drugs. It becomes even more complex if someone is self-treating a mental illness by using illicit substances. This can land a person in the criminal justice system when all that was needed was proper mental health treatment. According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, chronic drug abuse often occurs in conjunction with mental illnesses identified by the American Psychiatric Association. This includes disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder, bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Some disorders actually have an increased risk of drug abuse:

  • Antisocial personality disorder - 15.5 percent
  • Manic episodes - 14.5 percent
  • Schizophrenia - 10.1 percent

Military vets often struggle with PTSD and mental health problems, but many are reluctant to go into treatment. This might be out of a fear of losing military benefits or their career. Some may think it's easier to drink or turn to illicit drugs than to confront the drug abuse head on. Victims of abuse also often deal with drug abuse and mental disorders.

Many times, chronic substance abuse and mental disorders go hand in hand. Sometimes people with mental disorders do not have insurance or health care. To deal with the symptoms, a person may begin to smoke marijuana or drink to cover the negative effects of the mental disorder. If a person does have insurance and is taking medication prescribed by doctors, this medication can lead to adverse side effects, including restlessness, sleeplessness or depression. Using illicit drugs lessens these effects.

Research has shown that chronic drug abuse can lead to mental disorders. Ecstasy has been shown to produce serotonin deficits in the brain. This can cause depression and anxiety. Teenagers who are chronic drug abusers are a big concern because of the way their brains are forming. Drug abuse can contribute to mental disorders during these years of development. Another possibility is that chronic drug abuse and mental disorders are independent of each other. Only a trained psychologist can tell how these issues co-occur.

Can mental illness and chronic drug abuse be treated?

Researchers are studying how best to treat co-occurring conditions. In some circles, it's thought that the two conditions must be treated simultaneously for it to be effective, but they often are treated separately. Individuals are sent back and forth between substance abuse centers and mental health treatment facilities without regard to the other condition. If the criminal justice system is involved, it gets even more complicated. Drug charges make it more difficult to get a job and housing, which makes it more difficult for a person to become stable.

Help is available. Instead of being sent through the criminal justice system, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who can navigate the difficult waters of the legal system to get you the help you deserve. You can get back on the right path with the right advocate by your side.

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Sutton Law Group, P.A
7721 SW 62nd Avenue | Miami, FL 33143
Phone: (305) 667-4481 Toll Free: (800) 375-5497 Fax: (305) 666-2118
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