Teenagers are more prone to the ill effects of an addictive drug. Now, a study suggests that presence of a mental condition in adolescents can become a potent cause of developing substance use disorder. According to the study, teenagers suffering from mental ailments like anxiety and sleep disorder are at a greater risk of being treated with opioid medication for longer duration, which further increases the risk of developing an addiction.
The study published in JAMA Pediatrics observed that teenagers with mental disorders were more likely to be prescribed huge quantities of opioid drugs, and had higher rates of transitioning from “initial opioid receipt to long-term opioid therapy.” “Commercially insured teens with a variety of mental health conditions and treatments, ranging from anxiety, mood neurodevelopmental, sleep and non-opioid substance use disorders had an increased risk of being treated with opioids,” said lead author of the study Patrick Quinn of Indiana University in Bloomington.
Researchers examined health insurance statistics for more than 1.2 million adolescents aged 14 to 18, who were prescribed mainly three opioids — hydrocodone, oxycodone, and codeine. The study found that hydrocodone, which accounted for almost 60 percent of prescription, were prescribed to over 70 percent of the respondents.
Mental disorder and substance abuse are two separate conditions. However, they often occur simultaneously, which is known as dual diagnosis. Though the prevalence of dual diagnosis is common. But, it is very less reported as one of the conditions often remains hidden under the shadow of the other, thereby making it difficult to identify the co-occurrence. In dual diagnosis, either of the condition (mental disorder or addiction) can occur first leading to the development of the other.
Common co-occurring mental and substance use disorders
Mental disorders and substance abuse form a vicious circle. People suffering from a mental condition often resort to substances like alcohol and opioid painkillers to seek relief. As alcohol is a depressant and opioids are sedative in nature, their use further worsen the existing mental disorder. Below are some common co-existing conditions:
- Marijuana addiction and schizophrenia: Marijuana contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that causes long-term alterations in the brain, thereby leading to conditions like memory loss, anxiety, and mood disorders. Studies show that marijuana can cause psychosis and users are susceptible to developing psychotic problems like schizophrenia.
- Alcohol and depression: Alcohol is a depressant and significantly affects the chemical balance in the brain, which leads to depressive symptoms such as persistent sadness, hopelessness, and Experts say that regular use of alcohol can lead to the development of depression.
- Cocaine and anxiety: Cocaine is a stimulant and works to trigger the neurotransmitters in the brain, which further leads to the development of anxiety. Eexcessive use of cocaine makes the body dependent on the drug, thereby taking away its natural ability to cope with anxiety.
- Opioid addiction and PTSD: Use of opioid medications is often the first line of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, with regular or long-term use, the effects of opioids on the PTSD symptoms tend to fade away. Hence, people increase their dose of opioids, which leads to dependency and eventually causes an
Dealing with dual diagnosis
Determining dual diagnosis can be difficult due to lack of knowledge or similar symptoms of the co-occurring conditions. Therefore, a patient seeking treatment for either of the condition should be diagnosed for both. In dual diagnosis, treating both mental disorder and substance abuse simultaneously is important as any of the untreated ailment can lead to the relapse of other condition.
Dual diagnosis can be treated with timely medical intervention. If you or your loved one is suffering from dual diagnosis, seek help from the California Dual Diagnosis Helpline. You can call at our 24/7 helpline number (855) 980-1736 or chat online with our expert to know about the best dual diagnosis treatment in California. Our certified experts can also help you connect with one of the reputed dual diagnosis treatment centers in California.