by Marianne Wylie, MSW, RSW
There are a lot of misunderstandings about addiction and mental health, especially about how the two relate. For #WorldMentalHealthDay, let’s take some time to get to know this relationship.
Addiction can be understood as the compulsion of engaging in a behaviour or substance despite harmful consequences or desires to avoid it.
Mental health is the state of our emotional, behavioural and psychological well being. A mental illness is a mental health condition that causes impairment in functioning (e.g., depression and anxiety). Addiction is a recognized mental illness that a person can be diagnosed with.
“People with a mental illness are 2 times as likely to have a problem with substance use” and those “with a substance problem are up to three times more likely to have a mental illness” (CAMH: Mental Illness and Addiction: Facts and Statistics, 2019, www.camh.ca).
Clearly, addiction and mental health are vastly connected.
But how do they relate? The relationship between the two can be explained in part by the following.
There is help and support for both. Addressing both addiction problems and mental illness together often increases the success rate of treatment. Providers of addiction and mental health services are recognizing this correlation more and more, and have been working towards incorporating programming to help those who experience both.
If you struggle with both addictions and mental health issues, you are not alone.
Foundations Recovery Network: Dual Diagnosis. https://www.dualdiagnosis.org/mental-health-and-addiction/the-connection/
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. https://www.camh.ca/en/driving-change/the-crisis-is-real/mental-health-statistics
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