Drug Rehab Centers and Mental Health Facilities
The more we learn about addiction, it is increasingly clear that mental health and addiction interact in significant ways. Drug rehab centers and mental health facilities are not necessarily mutually exclusive. A comprehensive recovery involves physical health and mental health, which is something any effective center will understand. At Mountain View Recovery, substance abuse disorders are the primary diagnosis that we treat. We do understand though that mental health is a significant part of addiction and recovery. Co-occurring disorders, when someone suffers from addiction and a mental disorder, are common and something we can treat.
Currently, we’re able to treat clients with:
- Bipolar Disorder (treated)
- Treated Schizoaffective
- Anxiety/Personality Disorders
- Other Axis II Disorders
In order to effectively treat co-occurring disorders, it’s important for us to understand a person’s background as fully as possible. This means understanding their genetic history and the various environmental factors that impacted them as they grew up. Addiction is complex and unique to each person. Individualized treatment is essential to an effective treatment plan. Thus, it’s important that we work with individuals to understand as much as possible about how their background has impacted their mental health and addiction.
Genetics, Environment, and Mental Health
There are countless factors behind what affects someone’s mental health. Two significant aspects include genetics and environment. Someone’s environment includes their family, social life, work, and culture among other possibilities. This will vary widely for different people. In order to develop thorough and effective treatment plans, it’s important that we fully understand each patient’s history. With family, there’s the possibility a person was adopted, in foster care, or another situation where they rarely lived with their immediate blood relatives. Whatever the case, it is still helpful to look at genetics and understand how that is impacting a person today. If someone is unable to provide any familial genetic history, that is okay and there are still ways to look at how genetics are impacting them.
A person’s environment impacts their potential for mental health problems in a variety of ways:
- Work: Stress from work is a problem for many people. This includes interpersonal relationships at work, high-pressure expectations, jobs that are stressful no matter what, and having time cut or being fired.
- Economic: There is clear evidence that economic downturn negatively impacts mental health.
- Culture: A shared set of beliefs, norms, and values. This impacts people’s ability to address mental health or illness, whether they seek treatment, or if treatment is even easily available.
- Social: A social life impacts mental health; this may be a robust social life, a lack of one, or even a social life that includes negative influences.
Genetic and environmental factors do not tell for certain if someone will have a mental illness. However, they do provide insight into the potential for developing mental health disorders. Family environment and genetics can mix in a variety of ways to impact one’s mental health. Someone could grow up in a dysfunctional family with or without a genetic predisposition for mental illness; alternatively they could grow up in a well-adjusted family that still has a higher risk for certain mental illnesses. It’s possible for any mix of these situations to impact a person’s mental health.
Other environmental factors might cause mental health disorders or they could worsen the disorders for some people. Economic burdens also significantly impact people’s mental health, relationships, and overall quality of life. A stigma around mental health and lack of resources certainly worsens mental health issues for many. Some of the stigma has lessened, but those with a severe mental illness still deal with a significant amount of stigma and shame.
Genetics, Environment, and Addiction
Just as genetics and environment impact mental health, they also have a serious effect on addiction. Again, neither mean someone absolutely will deal with addiction just like they won’t have a mental illness because of them. However, it can also provide insight whether someone is potentially genetically predisposed, meaning they are at a higher risk of developing a substance abuse disorder or addiction. In a study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the authors write, “Addictions are moderately to highly heritable.” This isn’t to say if your parents or other relatives had an addiction to a certain substance, you’ll have that same addiction. Our genetics in part determine our behavior, our ability to deal with things like stress, and our overall health. For certain people, they might inherit behaviors and health issues that leave them vulnerable to substance abuse and addiction. It could be something like the inability to deal with stress and then someone turns to substances to cope.
Environmental factors influence addiction in a number of ways:
- Work: Many people use substances to cope with stress related to the work itself or interpersonal relationships.
- Economic: In addition to economic downturn causing negative mental health affects, it also leads to increases in substance abuse disorders. Many people use substances to cope with the negative mental health affects.
- Additionally, the economic background someone is raised in has a significant impact. Are substances widely available? Substances like meth, heroin, and crack cocaine are typically associated with those from poorer economic backgrounds. Wealthier economic groups still deal with addiction, and it can also be severe, but they’re not typically substances as addictive as meth, heroin, or crack cocaine.
- Social: Many people try substances out of curiosity and peer pressure. Peer pressure is not always an insidious as it might seem. It could simply be friends or a social group convincing someone to try a substance.
- Abuse: Research studies have shown correlation between abuse and addiction. In particular, those who suffered from childhood abuse were “...1.5 times more likely to report illicit drug use in the past year compared to healthy, nonabused [people]...”
While genetics and environment do not equal addiction, they can quite often play a part in it. It’s important for us to completely explore as many of these possibilities as we can to thoroughly help each patient. Each factor will help determine treatment and will also help us determine how to best help someone even after they leave treatment. Treatment for genetic factors include psychotherapy to address inherited behaviors and addressing any biochemical imbalances that might be leaving someone vulnerable to addiction. With environmental factors, there will always be stressors and issues present in every person’s life. For those who have gone through neglect and abuse, addiction often results from trying to cope with the trauma and pain. It’s important to develop healthy coping skills to deal with challenges in a constructive way. Unfortunately, most people lack the skills and resources to effectively cope.
Addiction and Mental Health
Genetics and environment both impact addiction and mental health. Quite often these issues coincide. Addiction can be a result of trying to cope with mental health issues. It’s also possible for new mental health issues to arise from substance abuse and addiction, or for existing issues to worsen. When someone is suffering from severe mental illness, like unipolar depression which is persistent and can result in a lack of interest in most activities, they may have no motivation and feel that life is pointless. This might lead to abusing substances, especially as they may perceive low or no risk since they are dealing with severe mental health issues. Furthermore, for people that use substances to cope with mental health disorders, they often in fact worsen their mental health as substances obviously do not help.
Someone seeking treatment for co-occurring disorders may wonder if they will ever achieve a state of sound mental health. It’s important for them, and anyone, to know that it is possible to treat mental health disorders and to significantly improve one’s overall mental health. However, they should also understand that there is no final level of achievement that people reach. Everyone needs to take care of their mental health throughout their lives, including those who are perceived to have great mental health. Mental health resources and addiction resources are not going to cure a disorder, but they can help. They should help someone work through issues through therapy, for their mental and physical health, and provide them with tools to help throughout their life.
At Mountain View Recovery, we also believe and put into practice the idea that group support is essential to recovery. Recovery is complex and something best done with support. With co-occurring disorders, we work to identify and treat as many of the underlying causes as possible. In doing so, we are giving each individual the best possible chance at maintaining sobriety, but also at dealing with relapse if and when it happens. Through therapy like Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing and Somatic Experiences, we work to address traumas that may have caused addiction or resulted from addiction. Outdoor therapy (adventure-based) helps individuals process trauma, achieve new accomplishments, and develop healthy ways to cope with addiction and mental health issues. We also have an alumni program, with no time limit, that provides an opportunity for sober living and meeting with a group twice a week. We know how essential support is in recovery as well as providing means to heal. If you or a loved one needs help, contact us today.