What Is The Role Of Behavioral Health In Addiction Treatment? What do most people think of when they hear the term behavioral health? The most common thought is that it has something to do with mental health. So what does it have to do with addiction? A great deal, especially when people realize that addiction is a mental health issue.
Co-Occurring Disorders Nearly 50% of people struggling with substance abuse disorder also struggle with one or more other disorders. Some common problems faced by those with addictions include: • Depression • Anxiety • Panic disorder • PTSD • Trauma • Bipolar disorder • Schizophrenia • Eating Disorders
It’s not uncommon for someone to be suffering from, for example, depression, PTSD, and addiction, or bipolar disorder and addiction. There are other disorders that may be present, but the above list contains some common examples. • Some may wonder if it is the addiction that causes the other disorder, and the answer is it depends. In some cases, substance abuse can bring on symptoms of anxiety, depression, and psychosis, but it’s also common for people who already have mental health issues to develop addiction problems. • The connection between drug and alcohol abuse and mental health is significant because people who suffer from mental health issues often look to substances to help them cope.
Treating Only One Problem Doesn’t Work • All of this is important because when people get help for addiction, they often have other issues that must be addressed. • When mental health problems are ignored, there is a greater likelihood that addiction treatment will be ineffective, or that relapse will occur. • For example, a person who has chronic depression or bipolar disorder may wish to get clean and sober, but if they don’t get help for their mental health, they may relapse when their symptoms resurface.
People who have unaddressed PTSD are also vulnerable to relapse if they don’t get help for it because PTSD symptoms are often dealt with by drinking or using drugs.
How Behavioral Health Treatment Can Help • Behavioral health services in addiction treatment can make all the difference for the addict with a co-occurring disorder.By addressing mental health issues in treatment, there is a greater likelihood of a good outcome. • Services may include counseling, education, medication or referrals to agencies that can provide additional services • This means not discharging someone from treatment without addressing their mental health issues.
In the past, addiction treatment and mental health services were kept separate. Because of this, too many people fell through the cracks, never getting the help that was needed • If they were in active addiction, they couldn’t get mental health services • If they were in the midst of a mental health crisis, they couldn’t get addiction treatment services. People would get clean and sober, get released from treatment and then go back to using because their mental health issues surfaced and they didn’t have the tools to cope.
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