Psychiatric Illness and the Potential For Addiction

Psychiatric Illness and the Potential For Addiction

Psychiatric illnesses like bipolar disorder, major depression and schizophrenia negatively impact a person’s ability to make wise judgments. That means that reasoning with these patients about the potential dangers of alcohol and drugs can be a challenge. Nevertheless, the risk for substance abuse is such that caring people around the patient need to be educators, watch-keepers and steadfast supporters however the situation may dictate.

If a person is living with an illness that leaves them feeling routinely tired and listless, mentally foggy or just plain blue, convincing them that taking drugs which reverse those symptoms becomes a very tough sell. Once use turns into addiction, overcoming the discomforts of withdrawal can seem like just one more giant hurdle in an already tiring race. Still, it is imperative that friends and family do all they can to keep their loved one from experimenting with drugs or alcohol and stand by them if addiction treatment becomes a necessity.

Unfortunately, not only are patients with psychiatric illnesses more vulnerable to addiction, but those substances can make it harder to treat their underlying condition. For one thing, people addicted to drugs or alcohol may not be compliant patients. Getting them to avoid taking the wrong drugs but to properly use the prescribed medication is notably harder.

A recent psychiatric article noted that a disturbingly high number of patients with these conditions are smokers. Although both tobacco and marijuana pose major health risks, marijuana use can actually interfere with psychiatric treatment. Marijuana use tends to lower motivation, impairs clear thinking and can even deepen some psychotic symptoms.

Addiction frequently accompanies these illnesses, so family, friends and attending physicians all need to be alert to the danger. Loved ones will need to resist frustration and blaming. As far as possible, keep the patient away from cigarettes, alcohol and anyone who might expose them to illegal drugs. However, if they still manage to become addicted, help them to seek help soon. Your own positive attitude which says addiction isn’t inevitable or untreatable, even for patients with serious psychiatric illnesses, can make all the difference.

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