A mental disorder is a wide range of conditions that affect mood, thinking, and behavior (Mayoclinic, 2015). Most common types of mental disorder include; Clinical depression which is characterized by persistently depressed mood, Anxiety disorder, which is characterized by feelings of worry, anxiety or fear and Bipolar disorder, characterized by episodes of mood swings. Although many people have a mental health concern, it becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect the individual’s ability to function.

Addiction, on the other hand, can be defined as the uncontrollable and compulsive use of a particular substance or as the uncontrollable and compulsive indulgence in a particular act despite adverse consequences (Wikipedia, 2018). Addiction varies from person to person. The individual’s biology, age, social environment and stage of growth affects how likely the person becomes addicted to a particular drug. Also, a strong genetic link to addiction can affect an individual also.

Many individuals who develop substance use disorder (SUD) according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) are also diagnosed with mental disorders, and vice versa. Findings showed that about half of those who experienced a mental illness during their lives also had experience in substance use disorder (addiction). This is due to the fact that these individuals self-medicate the mental health symptoms that they find disruptive or uncomfortable by using alcohol and drugs. Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol often do little to address the underlying mental health symptoms and ultimately create a whole new batch of problems for the patient while also increasing the severity of the original mental health symptom or symptoms.

The figure below shows that more than half of patients with an addiction problem also have a mental disorder and vice versa, leading to co-occurring disorders.

Fig. 1.1: a pictorial chart of Drug Addiction and Mental illness relationship (

From the above chart, we can infer that over 50% of individuals who are addicted to any substance are mentally ill, as well as a cross-relation between mental illness and addiction.

In conclusion, there is clearly a connection between mental disorders and substance abuse, and any number of combinations can develop, each with its own set of unique causes and symptoms, as well as its own appropriate intervention and dual diagnosis treatment method.

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