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Dual Diagnosis: Substance Abuse and Mental Health

A recent Cochrane review concluded that ‘the evidence base for the effectiveness of medications in treating anxiety disorders and comorbid alcohol use disorders is inconclusive. The limited evidence on treatment approaches to co-occurring alcohol dependence and mood disorders support the role of integrated treatment. As with other addictions, groups are very helpful, not only in maintaining sobriety, but also as a safe place to get support and discuss challenges.

is alcoholism a mental illness

Treatment includes basic education about your disorder and related problems. You may benefit from joining a self-help support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. A support group gives you a chance to lean on others who know exactly what you’re going through and learn from their experiences. Slips and setbacks happen, but, with hard work, most people can recover from their relapses and move on with recovery.

Understanding the Progression of an Alcohol Use Disorder

The diagnosis is made when drinking interferes with your life or affects your health. Alcohol use disorder is a medical condition involving frequent or heavy alcohol use. People with alcohol use disorder can’t stop drinking, even when it causes problems, emotional distress or physical harm to themselves or others. You have advanced to the stage of alcohol addiction if you are using it in a risky way, and it is causing problems in your life. You have not yet been physically or mentally addicted to this drug, despite the fact that you abuse it.

is alcoholism a mental illness

Moderate alcohol use disorder requires the presence of 4 to 5 symptoms, and severe AUD requires the presence of 6 or more. Alcoholism may also be referred to by doctors, addiction specialists, and the general population alike as a mental disorder, or mental illness. Our focus at BlueCrest is on solutions to addiction and mental health challenges, not living in the problem. Our integrated treatment model addresses the spiritual, physical and mental components of addiction.

Anxiety Disorders

Even a single binge can cause serious irregular heartbeats called atrial fibrillation. Heavy drinking can result in inflammation of the stomach lining , as well as stomach and esophageal ulcers. It can also interfere with your body’s ability to get enough B vitamins and other nutrients. Heavy drinking can damage is alcoholism a mental illness your pancreas or lead to inflammation of the pancreas . In some people, the initial reaction may feel like an increase in energy. But as you continue to drink, you become drowsy and have less control over your actions. Brain tumor, breast cancer, colon cancer, congenital heart disease, heart arrhythmia.

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When Was Alcoholism Officially Recognized as a Mental Illness?

Very high blood alcohol levels can lead to coma, permanent brain damage or even death. Alcohol withdrawal includes a variety of physical and mental problems, such as insomnia, anxiety, bodily tremors, nausea, a racing heart, or seizures. Alcohol addiction and mood disorders can influence each other negatively; if you’re having a tough time getting sober it may be because of an underlying problem. Just make sure your group is accepting of the idea of co-occurring disorders and psychiatric medication. Some people in these groups, although well meaning, may mistake taking psychiatric medication as another form of addiction. If certain people, places, or activities trigger a craving for drugs or alcohol, try to avoid them.

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