Dual Diagnosis: Alcoholism and Mental Illness

Slips and setbacks happen, but, with hard work, most people can recover from their relapses and move on with recovery. We aim to support the widest array of browsers and assistive technologies as possible, so our users can choose the best fitting tools for them, with as few limitations as possible. One of the most unique things about treatment at Asana Recovery is the commitment we show to our core values in the course of treatment. At the center of the “Asana Way” are our core values of gratitude, mindfulness, teamwork, stewardship and creativity.

Can long term alcohol abuse cause mental illness?

Alcohol abuse can cause signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety, psychosis, and antisocial behavior, both during intoxication and during withdrawal. At times, these symptoms and signs cluster, last for weeks, and mimic frank psychiatric disorders (i.e., are alcohol–induced syndromes).

It can be difficult to pinpoint when social drinking progresses into problematic alcohol abuse. Licensed medical professionals use criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) to find out whether a person has alcohol use disorder and determine its severity. Although one is tempted to regard AUD as the cause of sober house the above-mentioned social and psychological problems, many additional factors may contribute to poor adjustment. For example, alcohol-abusing patients with mental disorders also are prone to abuse other potentially more toxic drugs, to be noncompliant with medications, and to live in stressful circumstances without strong support networks (Drake et al. 1989).


It has previously been categorized as a personality disorder, but in the 3rd edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, it was identified as a mental health disorder. When someone suffers from alcoholism, they tend to go through three different phases of drinking. The first stage is to drink enough to get either intoxicated or inebriated. Once that happens, if the person doesn’t keep drinking, the alcohol will begin to wear off, and they will start to experience withdrawal symptoms both physically and mentally. Like all other types of addiction, alcoholism, also called alcohol abuse or alcohol addiction is a disease.

is alcoholism a mental illness

In short, if your drinking or drug use is causing problems in your life, you have a substance abuse problem. And admitting you have a problem and seeking help is the first step on the road to recovery. The coexistence of both a mental health and a substance use disorder is referred to as co-occurring disorders. The National Institute for Mental Health’s Mental Health Information page has information about specific conditions and disorders as well as their symptoms. These include, but are not limited to, depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and anxiety. Many people may not even realize they have these illnesses because they are apprehensive about seeking professional help, guidance, and care.

Help with Mental Illness and Alcohol Addiction

Another aspect of structural discrimination, compulsory treatment, was examined in the 1996 USA survey. Thirty nine per cent of respondents approved of compulsory out-patient treatment, 25% endorsed compulsory medication and 41% supported compulsory hospital treatment for people suffering from alcohol dependence (Pescosolido et al., 1999, 2000). Ten years later, support for legal coercion had not changed significantly (Schnittker, 2008).

  • The results of the assessment can offer initial guidance to the drinker about what treatment to seek and help motivate the problem drinker to get treatment.
  • Dr. Beth Dunlap, a board-certified addiction medicine and family medicine physician, and is the medical director at Northern Illinois Recovery Center.
  • But the prospects for successful long-term problem resolution are good for people who seek help from appropriate sources.
  • For those who are experiencing an addiction to alcohol, a future free of alcohol dependence exists.
  • Alcohol affects your brain, making you feel relaxed in a small amount of time.
  • You might not recognize how much you drink or how many problems in your life are related to alcohol use.

Recovery plans typically begin with medically supervised alcohol detox, followed by residential rehab, then outpatient treatment, and finally, aftercare addiction treatment and support that incorporates the Al Anon 12 Steps. Medical treatment of drug addictions and alcoholism involves several evidence-based approaches. Treatment centers develop a customized plan for each patient depending on the severity of the alcohol use disorder and the presence of another co-occurring disorder. Environmental factors influencing alcoholism are also taken into account.

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Our Clearbrook rehab offers alcohol treatment in Massachusetts that incorporates medical detox, inpatient care, therapy, and aftercare services to support long-term recovery. Because of the ways in which AOD-use disorders complicate severe mental illness, comorbidity rates tend to be particularly high among young males and clients in high-risk settings, such as hospitals, emergency rooms, and homeless shelters. The high rates of AOD-use disorders, especially among young adults, may be due partly to changes in the United States’ mental health care system during the past few decades. An entire generation of people with severe mental illnesses developed their disorders during the era of deinstitutionalization. These people resided predominantly in their communities rather than in hospitals; they received few vocational, recreational, and social opportunities but experienced regular exposure and ready access to AOD’s. As a result, the rates of diagnosed AOD-use disorders in mental health settings have continued to rise.

To make the situation more complicated, the co-occurring disorders also affect each other. When a mental health problem goes untreated, the substance abuse problem usually gets worse. And when alcohol or drug abuse increases, mental health problems usually increase too.