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Mental Health Issues That Increase Addiction Vulnerability

Substance abuse can affect any individual, but there are people who are more predisposed to addiction due to mental illness and genetics. Common mental illnesses that often coincide with substance abuse range from mood disorders such as depression to personality disorders like schizophrenia. This isn’t to say that all people with mental illness will form some kind of addiction but, when exposed to illicit substances or alcohol, the likelihood of addiction is much higher than in the general population.

How Many People Are Affected by Mental Illness and Addiction?

Studies conducted all over the globe have focused on mental illness and how such illnesses can affect or make one susceptible to addiction. Surveys on gender as well identify how much more likely a person is to experience substance dependency. Patients affected by comorbidity also tend to experience more severe and chronic symptoms of the addiction and illness, as well as social, mental and emotional issues.

Quick Facts About Dual Diagnosis:

  • Approximately 40 to 60 percent of addiction vulnerability is predetermined by genetics.
  • The severity of the illness also plays a big role; those with severe mental illness are one-half times more likely to experience substance abuse, but those with mild cases are only one-third more prone to addiction.
  • Roughly 50 percent of persons with a mental illness are affected by substance abuse and addiction. Of that population, 29 percent of those people abuse substances.

Mental Illnesses That Are Susceptible to Addiction

It is reported that mood disorders, panic/anxiety disorders, and personality disorders are the most susceptible to addiction. These include bipolar disorder, general anxiety disorder (GAD), depression, and schizophrenia, among others. Mood and anxiety disorders along with antisocial and conduct disorders are two times more likely to experience substance addiction. Going further, a study by the National Alliance on Mental Illness reported that those with schizophrenia are four times more likely to develop substance abuse issues (47 percent), while those with bipolar disorder are more than five times more likely (61 percent).

Over a lifetime, the prevalence of substance abuse and mental illness together coincides frequently. According to a report by, schizophrenia, mood disorders, and anxiety/panic disorders again ranked high. Schizophrenics are almost 50 percent more likely to have substance abuse problems, while anxiety and mood disorders hovered around 20 and 30 percent, respectively.

This works in reverse too. Those with substance abuse problems are likely to also have mental illness. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism cited that, among alcoholics, mental illnesses were a key factor. Major depression, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and schizophrenia were common illnesses found among the alcoholics studied. Anxiety and PTSD were classified as the two most frequently diagnosed illnesses. In fact, alcoholics were nearly three times more likely to also have or develop anxiety.

Getting Treatment for Dual Diagnosis

If you suspect that you or a loved one may have a substance abuse problem and mental illness, it is best to seek help immediately. Being predisposed to many of these illnesses puts one at greater risk of developing a dependency on substances. It is a serious problem and it should be handled with the proper care of professional clinicians trained in such areas.  Call us today and we’ll be glad to tackle these difficult problems with you.