Substance use and mental health are often intertwined, with one often impacting the other and potentially leading to the other. 

This is believed to be due to the fact that many illicit substances alter your state of mind chemically, and therefore can lead to developing certain mental health disorders over a prolonged history of use. A similar process is believed to be at work in reverse, where serious mental health issues like depression can cause a person to seek out substance use for self-medication. 

That is why dual diagnosis treatment is so important in the substance use and mental health space, because it’s believed that treating both disorders together, rather than separately, can improve symptoms overall – according to several studies published in the National Library of Medicine on the subject.

The Impact of Substance Use and Mental Health on Individuals

Substance use and mental health are closely linked but the why behind this connection is complex. It can be attributed to various factors and appear differently from person to person. Some of these factors include, but are not limited to:

  • Self-Medication: Many individuals with mental health issues turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with their symptoms. This is known as self-medication and can provide temporary relief, but ultimately leads to more significant problems.
  • Genetics: Research has shown that there is a genetic link between substance use and mental health. Individuals with a family history of mental illness or substance use disorders are more likely to develop these issues themselves.
  • Trauma: Traumatic experiences, such as abuse, neglect or experiences of homelessness, can increase the risk of both substance use and mental health disorders because of the impact trauma has on the brain.
  • Brain Chemistry: Substance use can alter brain chemistry, leading to changes in mood, behavior and thought patterns. Furthermore, altered brain chemistry due to a pre-existing mental health condition may increase likelihood of seeking out substances.

Common Co-occurring Disorders with Substance Use

Substance use is often associated with the following common co-occurring disorders:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Eating disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Schizophrenia

These disorders can co-occur with substance use, complicating the treatment process and requiring a comprehensive approach to address both issues effectively. 

When disorders co-occur, this can be called comorbidity in the medical community. It’s important to understand the impact that comorbidities can have on the experience of the disorder, as this can affect how treatment for co-occurring disorders should be administered.

Addressing Substance Use and Mental Health in the Recovery Journey

In order to achieve long-term recovery, it is essential to address both substance use and mental health issues together. This can be done through a comprehensive treatment plan that includes:

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Dual diagnosis treatment is a highly specialized and comprehensive approach to addressing the complex and intertwined nature of substance use disorders and mental health conditions. This innovative treatment method acknowledges and emphasizes the undeniable connection between these two commonly co-occurring issues, recognizing that each can greatly impact the other. 

By providing integrated and simultaneous care for both substance use and mental health disorders, individuals are given a unique opportunity to receive the full range of support and resources needed to effectively address their specific needs and goals for recovery. This holistic approach allows for a more personalized and thorough treatment plan that can help individuals achieve lasting wellness and improve their overall quality of life.


Therapy plays a vital role in the recovery process, serving as a valuable tool that allows individuals to delve into and address the root causes of their struggles. By facilitating introspection and self-reflection, therapy enables individuals to gain insight into their thoughts, feelings and behaviors, ultimately helping them navigate their challenges more effectively. 

In addition to this introspective aspect, therapy also provides individuals with the necessary skills and strategies to cope with stress, manage their emotions and build healthier relationships. Through regular therapy sessions, individuals can work on understanding and modifying their maladaptive patterns of thinking and behavior, ultimately paving the way for a more sustainable and fulfilling recovery journey.

By consistently engaging in therapy, individuals can build a support network, develop a sense of accountability and stay motivated to maintain their progress. Therapy also provides individuals with a sense of structure and routine, which can be particularly beneficial during times of stress or uncertainty. Ultimately, therapy equips individuals with the tools and resources they need to navigate the ups and downs of substance use and mental health, and is crucial in preventing relapse.


When it comes to managing symptoms of mental health disorders and reducing cravings for drugs or alcohol, medication is often prescribed as a helpful tool. Working hand-in-hand with a medical professional is crucial in this process, as they can provide valuable insight and guidance to help determine the most suitable medication and dosage for each individual’s unique needs. Through this collaborative effort, the individual can receive the best possible treatment plan tailored specifically to their condition and circumstances.

Support Groups

Support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), can be incredibly beneficial for individuals on their journey to recovery from addiction. By regularly attending these groups, individuals are able to connect with others who have had similar experiences and can provide empathy, understanding and guidance. 

In these group settings, individuals can freely share their stories without fear of judgment, creating a supportive community where they can feel understood and accepted. Additionally, by hearing the stories of others who have successfully overcome addiction, individuals can gain hope and inspiration for their own recovery journey.

Seeking Help for Substance Use and Mental Health Issues

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use and mental health issues, it is essential to seek professional treatment. Old Vineyard has several programs, including inpatient, outpatient, and partial hospitalization programs (PHP) that can help you create lasting change for your mental health and substance abuse. Call today at 855-607-5920, or fill out the online contact form to see if treatment with Old Vineyard is right for you.


Old Vineyard Behavioral Health Services

Old Vineyard Behavioral Health Services is a treatment center that provides compassionate inpatient and outpatient treatment to help those achieve meaningful mental health and wellness. We treat a variety of behavioral health disorders including trauma, depression, mood disorders and more.

Our team of dedicated staff pride themselves on creating a safe and welcoming environment for all of our patients and their loved ones. Some of our services include our treatment, specialty and outpatient programs. Located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, we provide a beautiful, campus-like atmosphere.

To schedule a consultation with us or for more information, please call 855-602-5920.