- Posted by Austin Swim
- On February 13, 2015
- 0 Comments
- mental illness, substance abuse treatment
Is Mental illness the Cause or the Effect?
Mental illness and addiction are often found together. People experiencing addiction are twice as likely to suffer mood and anxiety disorders, 6 in 10 people who have a substance abuse disorder also have a mental health condition. Experts are not sure what comes first because it’s not always clear says research behind comorbidity.
What is comorbidity? If two disorders or illnesses happen at the same time in an individual, they are called comorbid. At the onset of an addiction and mental illness there are three known scenarios that could be taking place that a therapist would need to consider. Drug abuse causes the illness, mental illness leads to abuse, or drug abuse and mental health disorders are both the effect of other probable risk factors. Therapists routinely dissect the situation to see what is the true cause, because no two people are the same.
Similarities between addiction and mental health disorders
Science shows that there are fundamental similarities between drug addiction and mental health disorders. The same parts of the brain are responsible for drug abuse and mental health disorders. There are brain circuits that are tied to both dopamine reward processes and stress responses, making suggested treatment solutions the same as well. In addition, both addiction and mental health disorders can be considered developmental disorders in the field, for abusing drugs at an early age can also lead to mental health orders later on in life. Scientists still researching the similarities of these two disorders can better understand the root causes by taking a more holistic approach and seeing the two disorders as a singular problem.
Professionals Can Overlook That One Disorder Can Lead to Another
In someone experiencing comorbid disorders, it’s possible that the each disorder happened at different times. However that does not mean that they do not exist as a cause or effect of one another. Health professionals may not pick up on the link, or even the existence of the comorbid disorders. As a result both disorders remain left untouched. Let’s say that a drug abuser is suffering from bipolar disorder but masking it through addictive tendencies, that addictive tendency towards marijuana, for example, may appear to health professionals as a discrete mental disorder in itself. This becomes a problem as the individual isn’t taken seriously for their marijuana addiction, despite having even more serious underlying problems which are left unaddressed.
The Existence of Marijuana Addiction with a Mental Health Disorder for Insurance
Therapists are trained to take a holistic approach to treatment. Often times that means treating the root cause of a more serious mental health condition. In a comorbid situation, one issue leading to another as mentioned earlier is a common scenario. If treating the root cause of the problem is thwarted by the insurance company, then what is the next step? For our example of marijuana addiction, some studies have shown that it is a precursor to mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.
In order to get insurance coverage for treatment, a checklist of qualifications have to be passed by the individual before getting coverage. It’s a way for insurance companies to make a blanket determination whether coverage is necessary or not. Take marijuana addiction for an example of these checklists in action. A person addicted to marijuana would need to prove the necessity to get advanced treatment before getting the insurance coverage for it. Because of failing one of these checklist qualifications, a mental health condition such as marijuana addiction could seemingly continue if left untreated. In the case of marijuana, qualifying all items in the checklist are going to be difficult and one could see how a more advanced mental health condition could arise out of underestimating a lesser addiction such as marijuana.
In conclusion the similarities between mental illness and addiction are hard to ignore. However to determine which came before the other must be determined on a case by case basis. In reality whichever one came first may determine if insurance will help treat the root problem or not.