When someone we love is affected by drug addiction and substance abuse, our entire world can seem to shift out of balance. We can become caught up in learning about treatment options in a desperate attempt to help our family member or friends stop harming themselves through the abuse of dangerous drugs. If we have developed the disease of addiction ourselves, it can be even more frightening. Making the situation even more trying may be the presence of a mental disorder that has, as of yet, not been correctly identified. These conditions — known as comorbid conditions — result in a Dual Diagnosis that must be addressed with as much attention and concern as the diagnosis of substance dependence or abuse.
Treating one condition without treating the other is counterproductive and can drastically influence the effectiveness of drug addiction treatment.
There are many types of mental disorders which have been associated with substance abuse and dependence over the years. While mental disorders do not discriminate due to age, race, gender or socioeconomic background, there are some disorders that are more prevalent among various populations. It is very important to remember, however, that prevalence doesn’t mean very much when we’re talking about one person. The statistics concerning whether men or women are more likely to develop an anxiety disorder — according to the experts, women are twice as likely to suffer from generalized anxiety than men — doesn’t matter if you are a man who suffers from anxiety. Because mental disorders, regardless of the category or diagnosis into which they fall, can affect both men and women, it is more important to understand what mental illness is, how it can relate to drug abuse and addiction, and how it can be treated effectively. It is also important to understand which mental health disorders are more common in men or women, and which affect both genders equally.
Social Anxiety Disorders Affect Both Genders Equally
Have you ever met someone is painfully shy? They loathe meeting new people. They always seem more comfortable in their own home than going to a movie or a party, particularly if they do not know anyone who will be there. Sometimes mistaken for “shyness,” social anxiety disorder is far more than simply having a case of the jitters before a job interview or addressing a large group of people. Social anxiety can be debilitating on an emotional level that it very difficult to understand unless one has experienced it. The difference is in the way the individual thinks. Where any normally adjusted person might feel nervous about saying the wrong thing at a job interview or a meeting with a new client, someone who suffers from this disorder is terrified that they will be judged on every level. They harbor an irrational fear that others are talking about them, judging them and
making uninformed conclusions about their every moment.
A man suffering from this condition may find it incredibly difficult to go to work or school and may appear to others as though they aren’t trying hard enough, or that they lack motivation or the skills to succeed. People in this situation may experience the development of alcoholism and substance abuse. It is not unusual for adults to have a cocktail at a social gathering to relax. An individual who does not suffer from addiction and who does not abuse alcohol will find this practice to be perfectly acceptable, of course. Someone who suffers from social anxiety, however, may drink considerably more in an effort to remove inhibitions and quell the fear that controls his life. When this happens, the likelihood of developing a tolerance and addiction increases.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Can Take Over a Man’s Life
Try to imagine crawling into bed after a long and tiring day, laying your head on your pillow, closing your eyes and then being plagued by anxiety because you can’t remember if you locked your windows. You get up, check all the windows in your home to ensure they are securely fastened so your family is safe, and then you crawl back into bed. You lay your head on your pillow, you close your eyes and you’re still not sure if those windows are locked. What if one of them is still unlocked? What if you didn’t turn the locking mechanism quite far enough? So you get up, and the check them all again. Perhaps, you have a compulsion to check the locks no fewer than three times before you go to sleep. You know that all the windows are locked; you simply must check them three times, and you don’t know why. But if you only check them twice, something terrible will happen and you will be responsible. Men often feel a sense of responsibility to keep their families safe, and this feeling of responsibility can exacerbate an obsessive-compulsive disorder.
This is just one scenario that a man suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder might experience. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, this mental health disorder is characterized by obsessive thoughts and compulsive actions, known as rituals. No one knows exactly why an individual will develop OCD, but research has shown that it can run in families, and that the disorder itself has something to do with fear and anxiety. Currently, treatment includes psychotherapy and medication in the form of antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication.
Drug abuse and addiction affect individuals suffering from OCD at a higher rate than in the general population, according to a study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. For instance, the use of some drugs, such as cocaine, can create or exacerbate the symptoms of OCD, and other types of drugs, such as opiates that can affect the central nervous system, may reduce the symptoms. One individual may abuse opiates because they are unknowingly self-medicating their symptoms, while another person may not have developed symptoms of OCD until after they abuse stimulant drugs. While it is not crucially important to know whether OCD existed before or after the development of a drug abuse disorder, it is important to receive effective treatment for both conditions.
Men With Bipolar Disorder Are More Likely to Abuse Drugs and Alcohol
Bipolar disorder is a chronic brain disease that is characterized by drastic changes in a person’s mood, functionality, energy levels, and other aspects of their day-to-day life. The symptoms of this disorder are varied and sometimes hard to recognize, particularly in the early stages. During the depressive cycle, they may exhibit signs of depression. On the other end of the spectrum, this individual may be full of energy, excessive or inappropriate happiness, or they may engage in erratic behaviors. While the experts do not exactly understand the correlation between the two, individuals who suffer from bipolar disorder often engage in substance abuse, which can lead to addiction.
There are several treatments available for bipolar disorder, although there is no cure. In some cases, an individual may receive prescription medications ranging from mood stabilizers to anticonvulsants. Other treatment options include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Group and family therapy
- Education to help individuals recognize their symptoms and prevent episodes
- Sleep medications
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Getting Help for a Dual Diagnosis
When a man in your life suffers from a Dual Diagnosis that includes addiction, the recovery process can seem rather complicated. According to the experts at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there is no single treatment plan that will work for everyone. One person may respond very well to outpatient care while another needs to be treated at an inpatient residential facility. Another may respond to medication, while yet another may be more effectively treated with psychotherapy without medications. The factors that can determine what aspects will be included in a man’s treatment program might include:
- How long he has been abusing drugs or alcohol
- The specific co-occurring conditions that have developed
- The type of drugs to which he has become addicted
- The level of support he receives from family and friends
- The level of commitment he has to his own recovery
- The responsibilities he may have outside of treatment, such as caring for family members such as children or elderly family members
It is possible to receive the care your loved one needs to overcome addiction and manage a Dual Diagnosis in a healthy, productive manner. To find out more about how you can obtain help and begin the process of recovery by taking part in an effective treatment program, please do not hesitate to contact us today. You do not have to suffer alone; help is available right now.
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David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.
Reviewed by: Kim Chin and Marian Newton