The History of Addiction and Mental Health Treatment

April 10, 2014

A graphic of a brain with waves going through it

Addiction and mental health issues often go together. If a person is struggling with an addiction, many times he will also be struggling with mental health issue. This condition is called having co-occurring disorders, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests that those with an addiction are about twice as likely to suffer from at least one mental health issue, and vice versa. While having co-occurring disorders is now a common diagnosis in the medical field, its recognition in the treatment industry is relatively new.

Past Addiction and Mental Health Treatment

In the past, medical professionals usually only identified and treated one issue, and left the other unacknowledged. This practice caused problems for people suffering from co-occurring disorders, since addiction and mental health issues often influence each other. Treating only one disorder frequently results in the untreated disorder growing much worse as well as negatively influencing the treated disorder.

For example, if a person with depression and an addiction to heroin seeks treatment for her depression but not for her heroin addiction, she may find that her heroin addiction continues to grow worse despite her depression treatment. Similarly, she may also find that her depression is not improving because her treatment program does not address her addiction.

A survey from 1989 suggests an even higher connection between mental disorders and smoking addiction, with more than 70% of all respondents listing that they have both a mental health issue and a smoking addiction. The National Comorbidity Survey from 1997 showed that respondents with an alcohol addiction were two to three times more likely to report having an anxiety disorder than respondents without an alcohol addiction.

Healthday News discusses another study, conducted in 2010, that names addiction and mental health issues as the leading cause of non-terminal health concerns around the world, reflecting the need for greater understanding and study of these issues in order to treat and ultimately prevent them.

Future Addiction and Mental Health Treatment

The medical field’s growing understanding of co-occurring disorders has also expanded its practice of treating co-occurring disorders. This process, called integrated treatment, assesses an individual for the whole spectrum of mental health issues, both addiction-related and otherwise.

Once an individual is diagnosed with co-occurring disorders, her healthcare professional will then work with her to develop a holistic treatment plan that allows her to rehabilitate and recover from both her addiction and her other mental health concerns. Recognizing the presence of co-occurring disorders allows both the healthcare professional and the patient to understand and address the ways that the two disorders interact with each other.

The study of co-occurring disorders is still in its early stages, and therefore researchers and medical professionals still have a lot of important questions about them, such as:

  • What environmental and genetic factors affect an individual’s likelihood of developing co-occurring disorders?
  • Which diagnosis methods are most effective for early identification and treatment of co-occurring disorders?
  • How can medical professionals adapt the treatments used in treating one mental health issue to effectively treat co-occurring disorders?
  • Does having one mental health issue lead to the development of co-occurring disorders?

Next Steps to Take

As the medical field continues to gain a greater understanding of how co-occurring disorders affect an individual, healthcare professionals strive to provide the most effective and appropriate treatments for their patients. At Foundations Recovery Network, we seek to provide a well-rounded rehabilitation and recovery plan for our patients.

Our rehabilitation centers are among the best in the nation, specializing in co-occurring disorders treatment and focusing on patients’ physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual needs. Give us a call at 615-490-9376 for more information about our treatment options.

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