Breaking the Stigma: Understanding the Complex Relationship between Mental Illness and Addiction

There is a strong connection between mental health and addiction. Many people with mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) also struggle with addiction. In fact, addiction is often referred to as a “co-occurring disorder” or “dual diagnosis” because it frequently occurs alongside mental health issues. Aayushmana Foundation believes, one reason for this connection is that substance abuse can be a form of self-medication for individuals with mental health disorders. People may turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to numb painful feelings or cope with overwhelming symptoms. However, this often leads to a vicious cycle where substance abuse worsens mental health symptoms, which in turn can lead to increased substance use. Additionally, the brain chemistry of individuals with mental health disorders may make them more susceptible to addiction. For example, people with depression may have low levels of serotonin, which can lead to cravings for substances that increase serotonin levels, such as alcohol or sugar. Treating both mental health disorders and addiction at the same time is crucial for recovery. At Aayushmana Foundation, we believe this often involves a combination of medication, therapy, and support groups. It is important to address both the underlying mental health issue and the addiction in order to break the cycle of self-medication and achieve long-term recovery.