addiction treatment and mental health disorders, new jersey

Mental health disorders go hand-in-hand with drug and alcohol addiction in New Jersey. Those who suffer from depression, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, bipolar illness, eating disorders and other psychiatric illnesses often abuse drugs to self-medicate. Conversely, chemical abuse and addiction can also cause or exacerbate a host of psychiatric and psychological problems. In fact, recent scientific studies show that addiction and mental illnesses may co-exist due to developmental changes in the part of the brain linked to fear, anxiety and other emotions. Because the occurrence of psychiatric illness in addicts is much higher than in the general population, and addicts are more likely to suffer from more than one mental illness, practitioners in rehab facilities must be skilled in treating individuals with dual diagnoses.


The most common mental health disorder, depression has been blamed by the National Institute of Mental Health for more than $40-billion dollars in yearly business losses due to absenteeism, decreased productivity and treatment costs. In addition, depression frequently coexists with substance abuse and addiction. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of depression include: minimal interest or pleasure in doing things; feeling hopeless, problems with sleep, fatigue, appetite problems, feeling bad about yourself, trouble concentrating, and slowed thinking, Although most of us feel this way occasionally, a depressed person feels this way continually for weeks or even months. Alcohol, drug abuse, genetics, stress, personal and professional problems, and some medications have been known to cause or aggravate depression. People who suffer from persistent depression also face greater risk of suicide.

Depression is among a class of psychological illnesses known as mood disorders. In addition to typical depression (also known as unipolar or clinical depression), mood disorders also include various levels of bipolar disorder (formerly known as manic-depression). People with bipolar disorder tend to alternate between moods of depression and elation with varying degrees of severity. These individuals are particularly prone to problems with drug and alcohol abuse and addiction, especially in the manic phases of the disorder. Additionally, clinicians have discovered that some patients suffer from substance induced mood disorders, which can be caused by drugs and alcohol. People with substance induced mood disorders can exhibit features of mania or hypomania as well as depression. Stimulants such as amphetamines, methamphetamines and cocaine can cause mania and hypomania as well as episodes of depression.

Anxiety Disorders

Individuals with substance abuse issues are also prone to anxiety disorders, again as either a causative or exacerbating agent. Those who have anxiety disorder exhibit a pattern of constant worry about a range of activities. Other signs of anxiety disorder include fatigue, difficulty concentrating, thoughts that jump from subject to subject, irritability, sleep problems and restlessness. Many addictive and frequently abused substances, particularly cocaine, marijuana, hallucinogenic chemicals, and alcohol often cause symptoms of anxiety. These chemically induced symptoms of anxiety disorder can include constant worry and nervousness, panic, sleep problems, memory loss, accelerated heart rate, sweating, nausea and vomiting. When these drugs are used to great excess, the symptoms of anxiety will often remain for several days, even weeks, frequently inducing the user to continue to abuse drugs in order to self-medicate.

Beyond being at risk for depression, mood disorders and anxiety disorders, people who engage in drug and alcohol abuse are prone to an even more serious array of psychiatric illnesses. Again, the cause and effect relationship isn't readily apparent in all cases. Some individuals develop mental disorders primarily because of substance abuse, while others engage in substance abuse to escape the horrors of their mental disorders. The most common serious mental disorders that are seen frequently in chronic drug abusers are schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, antisocial personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress. The hallucinogenic drug known as Ecstasy has been known to result in long-term deficits of serotonin in the brain, which can cause depression and anxiety. Chronic drug abuse by kids during their formative years often contributes to the development of mental disorders because it is believed that they interfere with their normal socialization and cognitive development.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders also have been shown to have a strong link to substance abuse. In fact, a study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University demonstrates that as many as 50% of all those who suffer from eating disorders abuse alcohol or illegal drugs, in comparison to only a 9% substance abuse rate among the general population. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are the eating disorders most commonly linked to substance abuse. People who suffer from anorexia commonly starve themselves and indulge in excessive exercise because no matter how slim they are, they believe they are overweight. Those who have bulimia, frequently indulge in binge eating, after which they purge themselves by consuming laxatives or vomiting. People who have anorexia nervosa and bulimia often use a substances such as diuretics, laxatives, emetics, amphetamines, cocaine and heroin to curb their appetites or to cope with emotional issues.

If you, a friend or a member of your family suffers from depression, anxiety or any other mental health related disorder, it might be associated with drug or alcohol abuse.

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