Many people often wonder why alcoholism is termed as a psychological problem when chronic drinking often leads to high mortality mainly due to organ failures. Considering the occurrence and effects of alcoholism, it will be correct to say that alcoholism has elements of both mental and physical disorder.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) has classified alcoholism as a substance use disorder, but symptoms of mental issue due to alcoholism manifest much before physical deterioration or complications appear.
Some of the signs of a poor mental state induced by alcohol are the loss of control in drinking within the limit, perpetual desire to drink all the time, continued drinking despite negative impacts, regular intoxications, withdrawal symptoms and being a derelict in fulfilling most obligations (because of alcoholism). All of these are behavioral symptoms that need to be intervened at the earliest or they would result in physical complications of alcoholism.
Hence, the comorbidity of alcoholism and mental health conditions is intrinsically linked. Even the treatment of alcoholism focuses more on the mental conditions rather than just the physical conditions. In fact, all substance use disorders are primarily mental conditions that eventually manifest as physical complications.
Insomnia in alcoholics are signs of psychological issues
It has been seen that alcohol consumption may result in sleep disruptions. A 2015 study, titled “Insomnia in alcohol-dependent subjects is associated with greater psychosocial problem severity,” said that 75 percent alcoholics suffer from insomnia, and it is a veritable sign of a mental condition prevalent in alcoholics. It says that insomnia is a tell-tale sign of a psycho-social problem in alcoholics.
The study also said that alcoholics with moderate-to-severe insomnia had higher scores for most psychosocial problems and that they were more likely to report having greater employment problems and conflicts with their family. Insomnia was also found to be associated with aggravated psycho-social problems in alcohol-dependent subjects. The research also said that in treatment-seeking alcohol dependent subjects, insomnia may increase psychosocial consequences.
Alcoholism alters brain chemistry
Alcohol is a depressant and affects the neurotransmitters in the brain. It depresses parts of the brain that are linked to inhibitions. Alcohol is also associated with aggression, anger and absence of inhibitions, which are nothing but psychological attributes.
Alcohol associated with suicide, psychosis and self-harm
Alcohol induces self-harm and is an agent for abetment of suicides. As per the National Health Service (NHS) in Scotland, more than 50 percent of the people admitted in hospitals for self-harm are reported to be under the influence of alcohol while inflicting harm upon themselves.
Anxiety and depression linked to heavy drinking
Extreme drinking habits can lead to anxiety and depression, and can occasionally cause psychosis as well. When heavy drinkers abruptly stop drinking, they develop a psychological condition called “delirium tremens.” Conversely, people suffering from anxiety and depression also tend to consume large amounts of alcohol.
Thus, alcoholism and depression are part of a vicious cycle that can be broken only by a treatment procedure.
Need for integrated treatment for dual diagnosis
Though dual diagnosis is hard to detect and is fraught with complications, its treatment is possible with appropriate medications and therapy. But it is paramount to address both the conditions simultaneously for a successful and long-term recovery. Treating only the substance abuse disorder without keeping a tab on the mental health condition would not yield the desired results. Hence, seeking help from a credible dual diagnosis treatment center is important. The dual diagnosis treatment centers in California, for example, are counted among the best in the country.
If a loved one is struggling with co-occurring disorders and you are looking for dual diagnosis treatment in California, contact the California Dual Diagnosis Helpline. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-980-1736 for guidance regarding one of the best dual diagnosis treatment centers in California.