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Mental Health Month: The Connection Between Addiction and Mental Health Grows

While mental health has become a widely talked about topic in recent years, May is the official observance for mental health awareness.

In its 70th year, Mental Health Month was launched by Mental Health America in May of 1949 with a mission of reaching millions of Americans through the media, local events and publicized screenings. This year’s theme is an expansion upon last year’s #4Mind4Body theme, which explores spirituality, humor, work-life balance, recreation, social connections as well as animal companionship through pets and support animals.

At Spectrum Health Systems, we have a deep understanding of the correlation between mental health issues and substance use disorders and work hard to raise awareness, reduce stigma and provide quality, evidence-based treatment for both conditions – clinically referred to as co-occurring disorders.

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) reports that there is a “definite connection between mental illness and the use of addictive substances.” In fact, it states that people who are diagnosed with a mental health disorder also report binge drinking (69%) and cocaine use (84%).

One of the most common threads that connects mental health to substance use is self-medication. Someone experiencing depression may use drugs to numb their pain while someone with social anxiety may binge drink alcohol in order to feel more comfortable in social situations. People with frequent panic attacks often take Xanax or Valium to alleviate their fears, and others take Adderall for a boost of energy. While the use of prescription drugs is safe when taken as prescribed, some may take too much, too often and find themselves dependent on them. All too often, overuse escalates into addiction and more dangerous substances.

Mental illness and addiction can create an ongoing cycle, where one symptom triggers another, eventually creating larger problems. What can you do if you’re someone struggling with mental illness and addiction? First, it’s important to find a treatment program that has experience addressing co-occurring disorders.

If you’re struggling with addiction and mental health issues, call Spectrum Health Systems today at 1-877-MyRehab. Take a free mental health screening at Mental Health America.

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