Chronic drug abusers will often suffer as well from a serious mental disorder; this condition is known as a co-occurring disorder or a dual diagnosis. A chronic drug abuser may be defined as a person who abuses drugs to the point that it injures his or her health or otherwise interferes in a substantial way with the ability to function either socially or economically. If a person has lost the ability to exercise self-control concerning the use of drugs, then that person is also considered a chronic drug abuser. The most common serious mental health illnesses associated with chronic drug abuse include schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, manic depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. Each of these disorders carry an increased risk of drug abuses.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there’s an increased risk of drug abuse with the following: antisocial personality disorder, 15.5 percent risk; a manic episode, 14.5 percent (as often seen in bipolar disorders); schizophrenia, 10.1 percent; a panic disorder, 04.3 percent; obsessive-compulsive disorder, 0.3.4 percent; phobias, 02.1 percent.

Studies within the last few years, conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental health Services Administration (SAMHSA), suggest that over half a million adolescents are using marijuana, another 37,000 inhalants; 24,000, cocaine, and 2,800, heroin. As well, 170,000 drug-related emergency visits to the hospitals involved the use of illicit drugs, alcohol, or the abuse of pharmaceutical drugs. Even fewer of these teens are actually receiving help: 76,000 teens are in outpatient treatment for drug use; 9,000 in a non-hospital residential treatment setting; and 700 or more in hospital in-patient treatment.

More than 70 percent of the adolescents receiving treatment for substance abuse have had a history of trauma, usually physical or sexual abuse or assault. The adolescents who are traumatized in this manner are three times more likely to report past or current substance abuse problems. Combined with mental health disorders, there is a clear link between adolescent drug use and their mental health.

If you or a loved one may have a dual diagnosis, our list of dual diagnosis treatment centers is a good place to seek help.


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