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What Is Comorbidity?

 

Addiction and substance abuse is a widespread issue that generally has many underlying causes. This problem can come from a number of reasons including environmental factors, emotional behavior, genetics, family history, and mental health.

While mental health has become more and more talked about in recent years, many people still don’t realize the full impact that your mental health can have on your body and your behavior. Unfortunately, oftentimes with people who have certain mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety, they may use drugs or alcohol to try and escape their situation and will develop an addiction. This is sometimes referred to as comorbidity.

 

What Is Comorbidity?

The term comorbidity refers to two or more disorders or illnesses affecting the same person at the same time. In this case, it can mean depression and alcoholism or anxiety and a prescription pill addiction. While it is hard to know which problem came first, it is important to understand that comorbidity also implies that the interactions between the two illnesses can worsen and exacerbate the situation for both of them. Essentially, these two illnesses will play off of each other and cause a cyclical problem that makes both problems worse.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 7.7 million adults have co-occurring mental and substance abuse disorders and nearly 40 percent of those with substance use disorders also have mental illnesses. Conversely, among the 42 million adults with mental illness, about 18 percent also had a substance use disorder.

Unfortunately, for those who are dealing with co-occurring mental and substance abuse disorders, only about 9 percent of people received care for both mental health and substance use. The worst part is that over 50 percent of those with this problem received neither mental health care or substance abuse treatment.

 

Comorbidity Treatment

It is important to understand that for patients to get the best possible care available and to have the highest chance of overcoming their addiction and committing to long-term sobriety, not only will their substance abuse problem have to be treated but underlying or co-occurring disorders will also have to be dealt with.

Unfortunately, there are certain barriers that can interfere with a patient’s ability to get the proper and necessary care that they need to conquer their problem. For one, the cost can be a constant problem for those looking for treatment. For others, some may not know exactly where to go while others have fears and anxieties related to treatment.

One widespread issue that many deal with is that different treatment organizations address substance use and mental illnesses separately. Overall, it needs to be understood that for patients to have the greatest chance of success, these problems are related and need to be treated separately.

Luckily, some forms of rehab have different types of evidence-based therapy such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical-behavioral therapy, and more have shown promise for treating comorbid conditions. These treatment methods, along with effective medication management will not only help with treating substance abuse addiction but many mental disorders as well.

 

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