It’s no secret that alcohol abuse and mental health are closely linked. In fact, about one in eight adults in the United States struggle with both conditions at the same time. For many people, alcohol abuse is a way to self-medicate and cope with the symptoms of mental health concerns. But what most people don’t realize is that alcohol only makes mental health problems worse.
Grace Counseling’s alcohol addiction treatment program prepares you for the unique challenges that come with treating both conditions. Our team of specialists is equipped to provide the comprehensive care you need to overcome addiction and improve your health. Call us at 844.564.0712 and get the help you need today.
What Are Co-Occurring Disorders?
The term “co-occurring disorders” refers to the presence of both a mental health disorder and a substance abuse disorder. Generally, the person is using substances to cope with their mental health disorder. And, over time, this can lead to addiction.
While it’s not always clear which comes first, the two often go hand-in-hand. When someone is struggling with mental health, they may turn to alcohol as a way to cope.
The Link Between Alcohol Abuse and Mental Health
There are many reasons why alcohol abuse and mental health are linked. Alcohol abuse can lead to changes in the brain that can worsen mental health issues. Chronic alcohol abuse can lead to changes in the way the brain produces and processes neurotransmitters. This can lead to problems with mood, sleep, and more.
Some crossovers between the two conditions include:
- Self-medication – Alcohol can temporarily numb the symptoms of mental health conditions, but it only makes the problem worse in the long run.
- Anxiety – Alcohol is a depressant, so it slows down the nervous system. This can lead to feelings of anxiety, agitation, and even panic.
- Depression – Commonly, alcohol abuse can cause or worsen depression. Alcohol interferes with the brain’s ability to modulate serotonin, which is a chemical that helps regulate mood. This can lead to feelings of depression, sadness, and hopelessness.
- Psychosis – In some cases, alcohol abuse can cause psychosis. This serious mental health condition causes a person to lose touch with reality. Symptoms can include hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – For people who have experienced trauma, alcohol abuse can worsen symptoms of PTSD. Alcohol can interfere with the brain’s ability to process and store memories.
The link between alcohol abuse and mental health is complex. But, at its core, it boils down to this – alcohol abuse can make mental health problems worse, and mental health problems can make alcohol abuse more likely.
The Dangers of Self-Medicating
There’s a reason why alcohol is one of the most commonly abused substances in the world. It’s legal, easy to get, and can be very effective in numbing emotional pain. That’s why so many people turn to drinking as a way to cope with life’s challenges.
But self-medicating with alcohol is a dangerous game because it can lead to:
If you’re using alcohol to cope with problems, it’s easy to spiral out of control and develop a dependence on the substance.
Worsening Your Problems
While it may temporarily numb your pain, alcohol will not make your problems go away. In fact, it can actually make them worse. That’s because alcohol can impair your judgment and make it more difficult to deal with difficult situations.
Drinking too much alcohol can lead to a whole host of health issues, including liver damage, heart disease, and cancer. If you’re self-medicating with alcohol, you’re putting your health at risk.
Accidents and Injuries
Because alcohol impairs your judgment and coordination, it increases your risk of accidents and injuries. If you’re drinking to cope with problems, you could end up hurting yourself or someone else.
Self-medicating with alcohol is not a safe or effective way to cope. Get help from our team of professionals. They can help you understand your diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.
How Grace Counseling Can Help
Grace Counseling offers comprehensive treatment for co-occurring disorders. We offer a variety of services, including:
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
- Individual counseling
- Group therapy
- Family counseling
- Alumni program
We understand that everyone is different, and we will work with you to develop a treatment plan that will give you the best chance for success.
Contact us today at 844.564.0712.