Comorbidity: Substance Use Disorders and Mental Illness - Research Paper Example

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Comorbidity: Substance Use Disorders and Mental Illness Abstract This is a research paper discussing the comorbidity aspects of substance abuse and accompanying mental illness. Reverse case also is true. The paper has discussed the various obstacles in isolating mental illness from drug abuse and vice versa and the problems concerned with dual diagnosis…
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Comorbidity: Substance Use Disorders and Mental Illness
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Download file to see previous pages Introduction Comorbidity is characterized by the presence of concurrent illnesses in the same person. Drug abuse disorders often coexist with mental disorders. As such, drug abuse can lead to mental disorders and vice versa. This suggests that both the illnesses have some common risk factors. It has been found that at least 60 % of the people with drug abuse disorder acquire another form of mental disorder. This phenomenon is known as comorbidity. But it does not mean, one disorder caused the other although one might have surfaced first (NIDA, 2007). People with substance abuse and psychiatric comorbidities also have attendant issues such as “relationship problems, problems with support, housing and employment” (Hesse, 2009, p 328). Poor prognosis People with alcohol addiction and drug addiction are found to have comorbid depression though not all of them. Depression forces a person with drug abuse disorder to seek treatment for addiction. They tend to stop using the drugs and seek treatment for de-addiction so that their depression could be overcome. It can be suggested therefore that depression can mitigate the possibilities of continued drug use whilst on treatment or afterwards. When comorbid symptoms become chronic, quality of life suffers. As such the clinician should therefore bestow greater attention even though the symptoms are due to drug abuse or not. Depression has also been found to be remitting in drug users whether on treatment or on abstinence. It is because patients present for treatment when their problems become acute. However, the patients continue to experience comorbid symptoms during and after treatment in spite of treatment for drug abuse. Clinicians have to prioritize various concerns of the patient and draw a pragmatic treatment plan. (Hesse, 2009). It has been already demonstrated that patients with substance abuse present with psychiatric disorders (Grant et al, 2005) Question arises whether comorbid mental illness can be treated whilst on substance abuse treatment. That is, whether there are indirect benefits of treating comorbid conditions on the outcomes of substance use treatment. It is suggested that it is quite possible if the mental illness comorbidity is a direct result of drug abuse or an important obstacle for recovery from substance abuse disorders (Hesse, 2009) Some of the causes for the common co-occurrence of drug abuse and mental disorders are. overlapping genetic vulnerabilities, overlapping environmental triggers, involvement of similar brain regions, developmental nature of drug abuse and mental illness ( (Brady & Sinha, 2007). Research has shown that the gene catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) is of two types: “Met” and “Val”. One of them is known to cause schizophrenia. The variant Val found in the individuals is responsible for causing symptoms of psychosis and schizophrenia when they start using cannabis in their adolescence. As such there are complex interactions between genetic disposition, drug abuse and age towards risk for development of mental disorder (Caspi, et al., 2005). There may be a genetic pre-disposition in individuals towards mental illness and addiction or towards a tendency to have the second disorder as soon as the first one appears. Overlapping of environmental triggers such as stress, trauma due to sexual abuse for instance, and early exposure to drugs can result in addiction to drugs and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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