Substance Abuse and Mental Health in North Carolina

North Carolina struggles with high rates of substance abuse and mental illness. In fact, NAMI - the National Alliance on Mental Illness - reports that as many as 20 percent of all the adults in this state live with a mental health disorder. Unfortunately, less than 70 percent of these adults receive the treatment that they need to overcome their mental illness. This is due to various factors, including but not limited to ignorance, lack of awareness, personal misunderstandings, financial issues, and social stigma.

Even so, it is important to seek professional help when you have been dealing with any behavioral or mental health disorder or living with emotional issues. This need is even higher if you are also struggling with a substance use disorder over and above your psychological problems.

When this happens, you could be said to be living with a dual diagnosis. A dual diagnosis is a situation in which you abuse drugs and alcohol and are addicted to these substances as a result but you are also struggling with a co-occurring mental or behavioral health disorder.

This condition is quite common in North Carolina, with studies showing that about 16 percent of all the people who are enrolled in treatment programs and centers across the state struggle with both addiction and mental illness.

Co-Occurring Substance Abuse and Mental Health Disorders

As mentioned above, having a dual diagnosis means that you have an addictive disorder occurring at the same time as a mood or mental health disorder, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, or anxiety disorder. This means that you would be suffering from these disorders that are completely separate but also co-occurring and affecting each other at the same time. Although the issues might be separate, they are usually complexly intertwined and related.

That said, there is no starting point where you will receive a dual diagnosis for co-occurring disorders. This means that your mental illness might precede the addictive behavior - and vice versa. Additionally, any of these disorders could propel the other in no particular order.

Even so, research studies show that mental illness often tend to be the cause of the substance abuse problem. Luckily, it is possible to find recovery options and support systems in place in North Carolina that can provide you with the integrated dual diagnosis treatment that you need to overcome all these disorders.

Common Mental Health Problems Associated with Drug Abuse in North Carolina

Most of the people living in North Carolina with a mental illness also struggle with other disorders involving alcohol and drugs. when this happens, it is known as a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders.

Most often than not, struggling with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders also means that you would also be struggling with another additional disorder. This is because your mental illness - which used to exist as a stand-alone condition - could cause you to turn to alcohol and drugs. this is because you would be trying to self-medicate the effects of your mental illness.

Although this might seem to work especially over the short term, it would only exacerbate the symptoms of your mental health disorder. In the long term, you would be struggling with a dual diagnosis that could be difficult and complicated to treat.

It is also difficult for treatment practitioners to properly diagnose your co-occurring disorders. This is because most of the signs and symptoms of one of the disorders that you are struggling with could mask or mimic those caused by the other.

While living with a mental illness, you might not even realize it. This means that you would leave it untreated for a long time. However, the adverse symptoms of the illness might cause you to start seeking out the pleasurable and sometimes calming effects caused by alcohol and drugs.

According to the CDC - the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - more than 12 percent of the residents of North Carolina have received a diagnosis for anxiety. Another 16 percent have also received a diagnosis for depression while it is estimated that another 4 percent experience severe psychological distress. Among these people, people between the ages of 25 and 55 and women tend to be the most susceptible.

There are also some groups of people that have a higher vulnerability to develop mental health disorders. They include people living in nursing homes and postpartum women. In fact, it is reported that about 10 percent of all the postpartum women in North Carolina experience feelings of hopelessness and depression. Another 9.2 percent of these women report not feeling depressed but still struggling with little pleasure and interest in doing things.

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These numbers are higher for the residents of nursing homes, particularly those who are above the age of 65 years. For instance, the CDC has reported that over 67 percent of these senior residents struggle with at least one mental illness - such as a mood disorder, anxiety, dementia, or Alzheimer's disease.

The unfortunate thing for many people is that mental health disorders are not the only problems that they struggle with. In fact, it is now clear that most of the people living in North Carolina also struggle with a dual diagnosis of addiction and a co-occurring mental illness.

Although these conditions can and do exist independently, they often tend to go hand in hand. This is because living with a mental illness could cause you to turn to alcohol and drugs for self-medication. This is even when you have a clear knowledge of the fact that these substances will only worsen your illness.

But which are the most common mental illness that co-occur with substance abuse and addiction in North Carolina? Research studies have reported that most of the addicts in this state also deal with mental illnesses such as sadness, anxiety, depression, irritability, loss of motivation and energy, attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder

Types of Treatment

If you have been abusing drugs and alcohol in North Carolina, it is recommended that you check into an addiction treatment center. This way, you will go through an intensive evaluation and assessment procedure to determine the severity and extent of your substance abuse as well as check if you also display the signs and symptoms of mental illness. In case this is found to be the case, you will be recommended for integrated dual diagnosis treatment.

The goal of this form of integrated treatment is to ensure that you get the help that you need to address all the disorders that you have been diagnosed with. You will be provided with varying levels of care to take care of all the disorders and guide you on the road to recovery.

The intake assessment process can be useful at uncovering all these disorders as well as ensuring that you get the highly individualized and personalized treatment plan that you need to get started on the road to recovery.

Combining the strategies of addiction and psychiatric treatment would also be crucial in taking care of all your needs and requirements. Through these integrated recovery plans, you will also be encouraged and equipped to overcome the side effects of your substance abuse and addiction as well as those arising from your mental illness. Examples of these effects include anxiety, loss of motivation, reduced attention span, and diminished socialization.

These integrated dual diagnosis treatment programs can also provide medication management services to address your substance abuse and addiction as well as deal with the symptoms of your mental illness. This is because these recovery programs do not hesitate prescribing the psychotherapeutic medications that you might need.

In the same way, these programs offer a wide variety of recovery services - including evidence-based treatment modalities such as cognitive behavioral therapy, individual therapy, motivational interviewing, group therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, family counseling, medication management, couples counseling, aftercare programming and planning, relapse prevention, and referral to other ongoing care services.

They can also provide you with alternative and complementary therapy and counseling services that are designed to treat you as a whole person - in mind, body, and spirit. These alternative therapies might include yoga, meditation, massage therapy, animal-assisted therapy, art therapy, music therapy, Ayurvedic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, and acupuncture, among others.

By addressing your mental health disorders and co-occurring substance abuse and addiction simultaneously, they will also ensure that the deal with all the unique triggers that could cause you to suffer a relapse later on after you have gone through the treatment problem.

That said, there are different forms of integrated dual diagnosis treatment available in North Carolina. They include but are not limited to residential or inpatient treatment where you live in the treatment center for a period of time until you achieve stability or full and long term recovery.

You can also find outpatient treatment programs that will not require that you live in the recovery facility. Instead, you can check into the center a few times every week for your treatment sessions. These programs are also classified into partial hospitalization programs, regular outpatient programs, and intensive outpatient programs.

The important thing is to ensure that you are enrolled in an integrated dual diagnosis treatment center that can offer you the highly individualized and personalized recovery services that you need to overcome both your substance abuse and addiction as well as the co-occurring mental health disorder(s) that you have also been struggling with.

Learning what treatment is best for you or your loved one is easy. Speak to one of our trained counselors and let them guide you to the best treatment options available for your specific needs.


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