Addiction is a chronic disease. A form of mental illness that cannot be cured, like all mental health disorders, only treated. It’s worth pointing out, before the article proceeds, that people with any form of mental illness are far more likely to experience a substance use disorder, than those without a history of conditions like depression or bipolar disorder. Spun in a different way, it is extremely common for people who meet the criteria for an alcohol or substance use disorder to also have a co-occurring mental illness.
With that in mind, organizations dedicated to treating addiction have a more difficult task when it comes co-occurring cases—also known as a “dual diagnosis.” If treatment is to be successful, that is, resulting in a continued program of recovery, it is paramount that both the addiction and the other form of mental illness is treated at the same time. Treating one without addressing the other, almost always results in relapse.
Recovering from addiction and a co-occurring disorder is not easy, but it is possible with the help of experienced professionals employing the use of science-based methods. It is of utmost importance that people living with a dual diagnosis understand the risks associated with failing to work a continuous program of recovery and keeping the symptoms of other forms of mental illness at bay with the use of medication and/or therapy.
The Prevalence of Depression
The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a year-long campaign called, “Depression: let’s talk”. The goal, as you could probably guess, it to open discussion about the disorder, encourage people suffering from depression to seek help and to ensure that they have access to such assistance. The organization points out that, with more than 300 million people worldwide living with depression, the condition is believed to be the leading cause of poor health and disability on the planet. In that light, depression could be considered a pandemic.
“These new figures are a wake-up call for all countries to re-think their approaches to mental health and to treat it with the urgency that it deserves,” said Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO.
WHO has made the disorder the main focus of World Health Day this Friday, April 7, 2017. The organization defines depression as having persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities (anhedonia). As a result of which, people are unable to manage daily activities, for 14 days or longer. It is vital that people with depression feel able and safe to talk about what they are experiencing. An inability to do so means that such individuals will be disinclined to seek help, and without help, self-medication with drugs and alcohol typically ensues. People with depression are not only at greater risk of substance abuse, but suicide as well.
“The continuing stigma associated with mental illness was the reason why we decided to name our campaign Depression: let’s talk,” said Dr Shekhar Saxena, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at WHO. “For someone living with depression, talking to a person they trust is often the first step towards treatment and recovery.”
Treatment is the Answer
At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat we are committed to helping break the stigma attached to any form of mental illness. Our experienced, professional staff fully grasps the need for treating the whole patient, both substance use and any other form of mental illness that may accompany the insidious disorder. Please reach out to HVRC today, to begin the journey of recovery.
Naturally, people working in the field of mental health can only do so much for the cause. Encouraging people to open up about their mental illness in order to get help can only be accomplished if we, as a society, are committed to ending the stigma of mental health disorders.