It is exceedingly common for those who suffer from substance abuse disorders to simultaneously suffer from a co-occurring mental health disorder. Anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder are especially common amongst addicts and alcoholics – in fact, 37 percent of alcohol abusers and 53 percent of drug abusers suffer from at least one serious mental illness, according to reports published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
In some instances, an individual will turn to chemical abuse in order to self-medicate persistent symptoms of an underlying and undiagnosed mental disorder. In other instances, prolonged chemical abuse will lead to chemical changes within the brain, resulting in a concurrent mental disorder.
While it is not always clear which came first – the substance abuse disorder or the mental illness – it is imperative that both are treated simultaneously and thoroughly if long-term recovery is to be achieved and maintained.
While anxiety disorders and mood disorders (namely major depressive disorder) tend to be the most common among addicts and alcoholics, a wide range of mental disorders tend to co-occur with substance dependency. However, it can prove to be quite difficult to diagnose a mental disorder such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder in an individual who is actively abusing chemical substances. We at Next Chapter believe that achieving sobriety is the very first step to adequately diagnosing and treating mental disorders – and we also understand that in order for long-term sobriety to be achieved, all underlying disorders, big and small, must be thoroughly and effectively treated.
For this reason, we carefully evaluate each of our patients upon admission and numerous times throughout their early recovery process, looking for signs and symptoms of underlying mental disorders.
Our team of clinical professionals will evaluate each patient on numerous occasions, seeing as prolonged symptoms of withdrawal are all too frequently confused for (and treated as) underlying psychological issues. We believe in pharmaceutical intervention, but only when it is absolutely necessary. While we at Next Chapter do treat primary mental disorders, we are sure to only treat disorders that we know, for a fact, exist – we do not blindly medicate our patients. If a pre-existing mental disorder is uncovered, it will be thoroughly addressed, and a program of continuous psychiatric aftercare will be set into motion upon graduation from our inpatient program of recovery.
Mental health and addiction go hand-in-hand – after all, addiction is itself a mental disorder. We strive to treat all co-occurring, dual diagnosis disorders, ensuring that each of our patients is equipped with the tools he needs to maintain long-term, meaningful, and fulfilled recovery.
My journey (and growth!) of these last several months has been tremendous, and I could not be more grateful to Next Chapter and all involved for your part in helping me to open my eyes and heart to a self-awareness I have not had in a very, very long time. I took your suggestions from our first initial conversations of getting back to 12 step meetings, counseling and my own inward continued journey. I express genuine, true heartfelt thanks for that