Mental health and substance abuse disorders are common, and they often co-occur. The co-occurrence of these two conditions is medically referred to as comorbidity. One in four people with a substance use disorder has at least one co-occurring mental health disorder. These include disorders such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress.1
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Relationship Between Mental Wellness and Substance Use
The relationship between mental health and substance use disorder is complex. Some people develop problems with alcohol or other drugs due to using them repeatedly to manage or self-medicate their mental health symptoms. Although this may make the person feel better in the short term, substance abuse can disguise the person’s symptoms and worsen some symptoms in the long term.
What Is Comorbidity?
The Charlson comorbidity index is primarily used to predict a 10-year survival for individuals with multiple comorbidities. First developed in 1987 by Mary Charlson, the index predicts fatality risk with a year of hospitalization for individuals suffering from specific comorbid substance use disorder. The weighted index features 19 conditions, each assigned a weight from one to six depending on the estimated one-year mortality hazard ratio from a Cox proportional hazards model.
There always seems to be confusion around comorbidities, co-occurring disorders, and dual diagnosis. Dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders is a general term that defines the occurrence of two or more conditions affecting a person, whether mental or physical. On the other hand, comorbidity is the occurrence of mental health conditions and substance drug abuse, even if they are not co-occurring.
Comorbid Substance Abuse and Mental Illnesses
Most Abuse Substance Risk Factors
- Alcohol: As the most abused drug, 85.6% of American adults have reported consuming the drug at least once in their lifetime.3
- Opioids: These are among the leading cause of overdose deaths, with nearly 500,000 American adults succumbing to opioid overdoses from 1999-2019.4
- Stimulants: These drugs increase the activity of the central nervous systems and the body resulting in sympathomimetic effects. Approximately 900,000 American adults abuse prescription stimulants every month.
The Most Common Comorbidities in Substance Abuse
- Anxiety disorders comorbidity
- Major depression comorbidity
- Bipolar disorder comorbidity
- Schizophrenia comorbidity
- Mood disorders comorbidity
- PTSD comorbidity
- ADHD comorbidity
- OCD comorbidity
Signs and Symptoms of Comorbidity
- Issues with the law
- Anxiety and paranoia
- Aggression and irritability
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Difficulty focusing
- Poor personal hygiene
- Mood swings
- Changes in sleep patterns and appetite
Common Signs of Mental Illnesses
- Excessive worrying and anxiety
- Suicidal tendencies
- Alterations in appetite
- Auditory and visual hallucinations
- Increase in violent or aggressive tendencies
Comorbidity Causes and Risk Factors
- Disorder type
- Socioeconomic status
- Environmental factors
- Other factors
Comorbidity Diagnosis and Treatment Options
Mental Illness Treatment
- Behavioral therapies
- Support groups
Treatment for Comorbidity at Ripple Ranch Recovery
At Ripple Ranch Recovery, we specialize in comorbidity treatment, and thanks to our evidence-based approach, we guarantee you will get the highest quality of care. If you feel that a mental condition has led to substance abuse or vice versa, we are here to help you. Contact us today to learn more about common comorbidity in substance abuse.