Drug Addiction and Mental Illness are a Common Combination

Many people that suffer from drug addiction also suffer from a mental illness. The severity of the mental illness varies in each person, for many, it is mild and rarely detected by those around them. An abundance of therapies for addiction treatment are available, including some holistic options. Connecting to yourself spiritually helps redirect negative energy out of the body to focus on clear thinking and sober living.


Medicine CabinetSelf-medication often occurs in those suffering from severe mental illnesses including severe depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It is a way for these individuals to escape their perception of difficult realities. Self-medication often leads to the addiction of stronger drugs, such as those not prescribed by a physician.

Choosing the Right Treatment Path

Medical MarketingThere are a variety of treatment paths to choose from. Some are more spiritually based while others are facilitated in a medical facility setting. Many dually diagnosed persons benefit from spiritually based programs as facilities resembling hospitals and institutions lead to further mental illness disruptions. It is important to select a treatment path that will benefit the addict the most. Allowing them to select the facility often leads to a greater opportunity for success with longevity in sobriety.

Redirecting Temptation into Productive Behaviors

Temptation is one of the most difficult things to overcome. For addicts with mental illness, it is more difficult to resist temptation. Learning behaviors that remedy temptation by participating in productive behaviors or events can prevent a relapse.

When hobbies or activities are plentiful in a recovering addict’s life, there is more to do. As less boredom is noticed, the urge to use and relapse decreases. The activities chosen should not be one that would trigger the want to use. Activities that are interactive, calming and focus-based are ideal.

Group Therapy Sessions

 Jungian TherapySeveral dual diagnosis treatment programs use group therapy sessions to help those with the same or similar mental disorders/addictions for support of all of the group members. It helps others to listen to the stories of those with similar issues to get through their own battles and fight their own demons.

It creates a trusting bond between the group’s members. It is common for the members of therapy groups to remain in contact after treatment. The comfort of speaking to someone that saw them at their worst, or close to it, helps them stay on track with sobriety and reassures them that they are not alone in the struggle to stay sober.

Individualized Treatment Plans

Individualizing a treatment plan is vital for successful sobriety. Every individual responds differently to each step of the recovery process. This is similar to classroom learning throughout schooling. What works for one patient is not necessarily going to work for another, so by finding what a patient does respond to, helps them be more successful in quitting their drug of choice and having more control over their mental illness.

Getting to the Root of the Addiction

PsychotherapyUnderstanding what triggered an addictive personality or dependency on a drug is what helps the treatment process really get started. There is a reason that an addict chose to pick up a drug. Something in their lives was traumatic or stressful enough to make them “need” something to aid them in getting through it. For some, drugs are used to block out painful, traumatic experiences in their lives.

Knowing what event triggered the behavior makes it easier for a therapist or addiction counselor to help redirect those thoughts when they arise, and choose a different method for coping with those moments. This step of the recovery process is often the most difficult. It is hard to recount painful memories and speak about them openly.

Finding a Focus after Treatment

Tens TherapyFor many addicts, getting involved with a group or organization after treatment helps them remain focused on continued sobriety. For those with a dual diagnosis, a group activity or regular meeting for open discussions may work well. Popular therapies include art classes, dance classes or learning to cook different types of cuisine. Animals are also great therapy for those with both mental illness and addiction as they are calming and require focus.

The variety of therapy and treatment programs available allows each person to find the center that is right for their specific needs. Continued support and individual therapy after treatment is completed does assist with continued sobriety. It also helps with the development of more healthy relationships moving forward in recovery as well.

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About Ferland Manuel

Dr, Manuel Ferland is health care specialist,