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How Counseling Addresses Mental Health and Substance Abuse Together

Around one, half of people suffering from a serious mental illness also suffer from a substance abuse problem. It is only logical that doctors treat both mental illness and substance abuse at the same time. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, counseling is an extremely effective way to treat both disorders at once. In order to understand this relationship, it is important to look at how counseling addresses both mental health and substance abuse together.

Identifying the Problem

The first step to using counseling to address co-occurring disorders is identifying the problems. The factors that contribute to these problems are:

  • treatment history – if you were treated for a mental illness without being treated for the substance abuse or you were treated for the substance abuse and not the underlying disorder and it failed, combining the treatment might be the best way to accomplish both goals.
  • sensitivity – if you find yourself particularly sensitive to mental illness or you are extremely sensitive to drugs or alcohol.
  • family history – if your family has a history of mental illness or addiction there is a chance that you will wind up with one or both conditions.

Why do Substance Abuse and Mental Illness go Hand in Hand?

Mental illness and substance abuse often go hand in hand for several reasons. A few of these reasons are:

  • drugs are often taken in place of legitimate medication. Some people prefer to use illegal drugs rather than see a doctor about their problems.
  • drugs are the easy way out. Instead of choosing intensive therapy to treat a mental illness people choose the easy way to feel better.
  • most drugs cause some form of negative mental effect, usually depression. Many people start using drugs and then discover they cannot live normally after taking them for long enough.
  • Some drugs create lasting mental illnesses in some people. These people usually have to seek medical assistance and counseling to help cope with it.
  • people being treated for mental illness often abuse various substances to alleviate the unpleasant side effects of the medication.
  • drug use in younger adults and adolescents have a higher risk of mental illness later in life.

Counseling is a major part of drug treatment in all of these scenarios. The majority of the time one disorder causes the other. Either the substance abuse causes the mental illness or the mental illness causes the substance abuse. The psychological symptoms of either issue need to be addressed. A way to do this is through the various forms of counseling.

How does Counseling Help Treat Mental Illness and Substance Abuse

When people have co-occurring disorders, they need treatment for both the drug abuse and the mental illness. There are many treatment options available but there is only one that does not involve some form of drug treatment for a drug problem. This is counseling.

The many types of counseling offer:

  • a way to cope,
  • hope to those who have not been able to conquer drug addiction using other methods,
  • a way to discover to cause of the addiction,
  • a way to solve the problems relating to the addiction, and
  • a way to work through the mental illnesses that co-occur when you have an addiction.

This is how counseling addresses both mental health and substance abuse. There are many forms of counseling that can help and there is no one size fits all treatment for any disorder including substance abuse and mental health issues.

Where to Find Counseling for Mental Illness and Substance Abuse

mental health and substance abuse

It is important to seek help if you are suffering from mental health and substance abuse problems.

When you have an addiction and are considering treatment, it is important to find help right away. Many addicts waiver back and forth in their resolve to seek help. Knowing where to find counseling help for both mental illness and addiction is very important. You can find counseling for both in:

  • inpatient treatment – inpatient treatment centers are probably the best place to get addiction and mental health support. Here the counseling is intensive and happens on a daily basis. Most addiction counselors in an inpatient setting are well versed in both mental illness and addiction counseling.
  • outpatient treatment – in outpatient treatment centers most counselors are both substance abuse counselors and mental health specialists. They offer frequent therapy sessions and are capable of providing combined therapies for patients.
  • individual counseling – this is a popular method found in both inpatient and outpatient centers. You meet with a counselor one on one and can work through a variety of issues.
  • group counseling – in group therapy you have both counselor support and peer support for addiction. It offers help from people who have been in your situation with both the substance abuse and mental health issues.

Most health departments, hospitals, and private treatment centers have counseling for both mental health issues and substance abuse.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the majority of people who have a substance abuse problem need to be treated for a mental health problem as well. Without a comprehensive program many substance abuse or mental illness treatment fail and you fall into relapse. Combining treatment for both substance abuse and mental illness gives you a better chance at successful resolution for both problems.

For more information about how counseling can address both mental health issues and substance abuse, call us at 800-895-1695. We can help you find the treatment combination that works best for you.

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