What Comes First: Addiction or Mental Illness?

Addiction treatment is not a cut-and-dry process, especially when co-occurring disorders are involved. When a client is struggling with a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder, this can make recovery more challenging – but not impossible.

Many people want to know which developed first, addiction or mental illness, but there is not always a clear answer. There is not necessarily a causation relationship between the two, though they may contribute to one another. Co-occurring disorders often have overlapping symptoms making it more difficult to distinguish one from the other. In a dual diagnosis case, both conditions exist independently of one another, even though they may affect each other.

Due to the interrelated nature of addition and mental illness, it can be hard to say which came first. A person may use drugs or alcohol as a way of self-medicating and trying to cope with the symptoms of mental illness. Signs of Alcoholism should be treated immediately after recognition. Alternatively, their substance use may exacerbate underlying symptoms making them worse and more noticeable. Conditions such as depression and anxiety can also be side effects from excessive drinking or drug use.

What is important to understand is that these conditions are treatable. Clients can learn to manage their mental health and abstain from substance use. Crossroads treats addiction and mental health simultaneously in dual diagnosis treatment. This helps clients to understand the impact each condition has on the other and on their recovery. They may need to implement different strategies than someone who does not have a mental illness. Treating one condition but not the other can increase risk of relapse and make sustaining recovery more difficult.

Dual diagnosis treatment addresses the needs of the client as a whole and focuses on the specific challenges that they face. Crossroads offers gender-responsive, trauma-informed approaches to treatment to support clients in thriving in recovery and remembering who they wanted to be.

[cta] Share with us how dual diagnosis treatment has changed your life for the better, and why you’d encourage others to seek treatment at Crossroads. [/cta]