What Effects Does Substance Use Disorder Have on Mental Health?


It is important not to overlook mental health issues when discussing substance misuse. For anyone interested in drug rehab in MA, spending time focusing on mental health can be an important part of recovery. Understanding the link between mental health issues and substance use disorder allows you to take the steps you need to start on the path to recovery. 

What Effects Does Substance Use Disorder Have on Mental Health?

Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder

It’s relatively common for substance misuse and mental health issues to occur alongside one another. Sometimes, substance misuse leads to mental health issues, while other times mental health struggles encourage the misuse of substances. Often, it isn’t clear which happens first.

You can be sure that substance use disorder will not help mental health issues and it can stand in the way of effective treatment.

The use of illegal substances can exasperate underlying symptoms of an existing mental health issue. Likewise, existing struggles with mental health can lead to the use of alcohol or illegal drugs in an attempt to manage the mental health situation. Regardless of which issue developed first, substance misuse and mental health struggles are often the results of early exposure to trauma, changes in brain composition, and genetic predisposition.

How Common are Mental Health Struggles in Individuals with Substance Use Disorder?

About 25 percent of adults who have a serious mental health condition also struggle with substance misuse. The most common mental health issues that exist alongside substance use disorder include schizophrenia, personality disorders, anxiety disorders, and depression.

Treatment for mental health issues alongside substance misuse improves the odds of treatment success. Recognizing the signs of mental health issues is an important part of the treatment process. Once the mental health issues are addressed, it is easier to address the substance use disorder.

Does Substance Abuse Lead to Mental Health Issues? 

It is possible for someone who had no previous mental health issues to develop problems with their mental health as a result of substance misuse. The chronic misuse of illegal drugs or alcohol can lead to changes in the brain. These changes can result in depression, anxiety, paranoia, aggression, and otherwise fundamentally change a person’s mental health.

The use of drugs or alcohol in individuals who are predisposed to mental health issues may trigger the development of these conditions. The development of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorders, are complex, and can rarely be blamed on one significant event.

Distinguishing between whether a mental health issue developed from substance misuse or substance misuse is an attempt to self-medicate mental health issues is something that will be untangled during the treatment process. It is important to address both, as substance misuse has a negative effect on mental health, and continued misuse will make mental health disorders more challenging to treat.

Options for Mental Health and Addiction Treatment in Massachusetts

If you or someone you know is ready to seek treatment for mental health issues alongside substance misuse, you may be wondering what the various options are. While inpatient treatment is always a consideration, there are other options that provide more flexibility and offer great outcomes. 

Partial Hospitalization Program

Individuals seeking drug rehab in MA may be interested in a partial hospitalization program, or PHP. For those who want the intensive treatment of an inpatient program but prefer to stay at home, whether as a personal choice or because they do not qualify for inpatient treatment, PHP is a smart, effective decision. 

Why Choose a PHP? 

When you elect for PHP treatment, you get an intense treatment protocol. Traditional outpatient treatment is effective for many people, but PHP provides more structure and an intensive therapy process that is beneficial for many people struggling with the dual diagnosis of mental health and substance use disorders. The extended exposure to research-backed treatment programs makes this an excellent choice for treatment. 

PHP provides opportunities for both group and individual therapy. It is easy to think that no one has the same experiences as you, but group therapy shows you that we are all more alike than not. This feeling of sharing and community is an important part of the recovery process. 

As valuable as group therapy is, it is often not enough. Individual therapy provides the opportunity to dig deep into your past, or present, learn more about yourself, and find the strength to make positive changes in your life. 

Both group and individual therapy are important for the opportunities they provide to learn more about mental health, addiction, and recognizing symptoms before they become stumbling blocks on your path to health. 

With PHP you will work with professionals daily. Unlike outpatient treatment, where your exposure to professionals may occur less frequently, PHP ensures that you work with a mix of professionals every day. This helps you build the support system you will need for success after completing the program. 

PHP is less intensive than residential treatment, but it provides many of the same benefits. If you are concerned that outpatient is not intensive enough, but uneasy about residential treatment, PHP may be a good option. 

Intensive Outpatient Program

An intensive outpatient program is a treatment program that allows you to remain home, visiting the treatment facility for therapy and other treatment protocols. Not as rigorous as a residential program, an IOP works best when there is a strong existing support structure. IOPs provide a treatment option for those who are not able to devote the time needed for residential PHP treatment. 

Why Choose an IOP?

An IOP provides treatment options for individuals who otherwise would be unable to undergo treatment. It is an unfortunate fact that many people cannot step away from their day-to-day life to address their mental health and substance use needs. That does not mean it is impossible to seek treatment. An IOP is designed for this type of individual, even those who are seeking treatment for a dual diagnosis. 

IOPs are also more affordable than residential treatment programs. Affording treatment, both by paying for the process itself, and taking time away from a career to undergo residential treatment, is not something everyone can do. That doesn’t mean there is no help available. Many people find success with an IOP and the clinical setting of the IOP program allows for flexibility. 

Don’t let the word outpatient fool you into thinking an IOP is the same as any other outpatient treatment. The intensive nature offers a higher success rate than other outpatient treatment options. Additionally, you are building relationships and a support system to use after the intensive treatment period is over. 

While it may seem like IOPs, or any outpatient treatment, is inferior to residential treatment, many people find them beneficial specifically due to being outpatient. Because you are receiving intensive treatment, but continuing on your day-to-day routines, you begin to build healthy habits and get the opportunity to practice them while still in treatment. The transition at the end of your treatment period will not be as drastic as it can be for people undergoing residential treatment. 

Outpatient treatment requires personal commitment and responsibility from the very beginning of the treatment process, which many people find provides internal rewards and motivation to continue on their path. 

For many people, privacy is a concern during treatment. With IOP, you have the option of letting others know what you are doing, or not. While the program requires intensive work from you, you are able to manage other duties as well. The only people who will know what you are doing are the people you choose to notify. 

If you are looking for a flexible, but intense, drug rehab in MA, an intensive outpatient program may be the right choice. 

What Effects Does Substance Use Disorder Have on Mental Health?

Seeking Mental Health and Addiction Treatment in MA

There is no denying the link between mental health and substance use disorders. Unfortunately, a dual diagnosis is often met with stigma and disbelief. It is common for both the individual and family and friends to place all of the blame on substance misuse, but that is often not the case. 

Accepting the need for mental health treatment alongside treatment for substance misuse is an important step in rebuilding a healthy life. Ignoring mental health issues while attempting to treat substance use disorder is not likely to be successful in the long term. 

If you or someone you love is ready to seek treatment for their mental health and substance use disorder, get in touch. We can discuss the various treatment options, including partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs. We even offer evening and virtual IOPs, as well as virtual PHP choices. 

Our treatment programs use a combination of cognitive-behavioral, group, individual, and trauma therapy to get you or your loved one the mental health and substance misuse help they deserve. 

Northstar Recovery Center in Southborough, MA is made up of a team of experienced, dedicated, and compassionate addiction treatment professionals. We want to see our community heal from the effects of the opioid epidemic, alcohol addiction, and other substance use disorders.

Day Treatment Program in MA

Our day treatment program in Massachusetts, also referred to as an intensive outpatient program (IOP), is the highest level of health care offered at NorthStar Recovery Center. This outpatient addiction treatment option encompasses comprehensive clinical health care and behavioral health therapy services. In the initial stages of addiction recovery, it's crucial to have robust support to navigate both the physical and emotional challenges that come with pursuing long-term sobriety.

Our dedicated team at NorthStar Recovery Center, located in Southborough, MA, and West Springfield, MA, is committed to assisting you in establishing a solid foundation for a lifelong recovery from addiction to drugs and alcohol. Clients typically visit our outpatient addiction treatment center in Massachusetts each weekday for several hours, engaging in counseling sessions and other necessary interventions. This intensive outpatient therapy approach ensures a balanced and effective recovery process, tailored to individual needs within the framework of day treatment.


Individual, Group, and Family Counseling in Massachusetts

Addiction thrives in isolation, which is why group counseling sessions are a foundational part of our addiction treatment services. In group sessions, you’ll gain perspective on your struggles with substance use disorder and can connect with others who understand your experiences.

Family counseling can help your loved ones understand the disease of addiction, navigate conflict, develop better coping tools, and build healthier relationships. In individual counseling sessions, you’ll be able to work through personal issues like past trauma with the help of experienced therapists at our alcohol and drug treatment centers. Improve your quality of life and pursue lifelong sobriety now.

Learn More About Addiction Counseling in Massachusetts

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