Substance abuse is now classified as a mental disorder, and it often co-occurs with some other type of mental illness in what is known as a dual diagnosis. Scientists have discovered that those people who are genetically or environmentally susceptible to one kind of disorder are at increased vulnerability to the other.
This includes your teenager.
Per numerous sources, including the Journal of the American Medical Association:
- 50% of individuals with diagnosable mental disorders also abuse drugs and/or alcohol.
- 53% of drug addicts and 37% of alcoholics have a diagnosable mental disorder.
- Roughly 1 out of every 3 individuals with a mental disorder struggles with a co-occurring Substance Abuse Disorder (SUD).
- Tellingly, this is more than DOUBLE the rate for the general population.
- SUD and PTSD are the most-commonly co-occurring
- Among substance abusers, PTSD is 3X more likely than in the general population.
- 95% of individuals in addiction treatment report past intensely traumatic experiences.
- Approximately 50% of women and 20% of men in alcohol/drug rehab were sexually abused when they were children.
- 80% of men and 60% of women in rehab were physically abused or neglected as children.
- Men suffering from PTSD are 5X more likely to have an addictive disorder.
- 70% of all suicide victims have diagnosable anxiety or depression.
- Of that 70%, 90% are under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time.
- Greater than 1 in 3 teens with ADHD abuse one or more substances.
- Just 1 in 5 teenagers without ADHD do so.
- Over half of teens with UNTREATED ADHD will abuse alcohol and/or drugs.
- 8% of American children have ADHD. However, among teenagers who use marijuana, that percentage jumps to 30%.
- Over 15% of adults with ADHD met the criteria for a SUD, compared to less than 6% of those without ADHD.
- Anxiety affects 40 MILLION American adults and 1 in 4
- One-third of substance abusers struggle with comorbid anxiety.
- Reciprocally, one-third of people with anxiety abuse substances.
- Females having a 2X greater likelihood of anxiety, compared to males.
- Male addicts/alcoholics struggle with depression at a rate that is TRIPLE than that of the general public.
- Worse, female addicts/alcoholics have a rate that is 4X higher.
- Men have a greater likelihood of having an addiction before becoming depressed.
- Conversely, women typically battle depression prior to the addiction.
- Over half of individuals with eating disorders also abuse substances.
- This rate is 5X the general population’s.
- 4 out of 10 female alcoholics have a co-occurring eating disorder.
- Conversely, 57% of males with eating disorders have a lifetime incidence of substance abuse.
Co-occurring disorders create a vicious cycle that is nearly impossible to escape without help. Drs. Scott Harris and Edward Reynolds touched on that point in their book When Growing Up Hurts Too Much, saying:
“If your child is using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate, it is an abnormal response to the pressures of adolescent life. The paradox that arises is that using drugs or alcohol may cause your youngster to feel even more worthless…”
And, so it goes – substance abuse fuels mental illness, and mental illness drives substance abuse. A dual diagnosis is very serious, and the conditions invariably worsen over time. If your teenager is struggling with these twin demons, your family needs specialized care and support if they are to recover.
For nearly two decades, Teensavers Treatment Centers have been the most-trusted resource for families touched by problematic behaviors or substance abuse in Orange County, California. If your child is in crisis, Teensavers can help.
By Albert Fontenot