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Mental health conditions & addiction: what is what?

If you have an addiction to substances and also suffer with a mental health disorder, it’s often hard to see the wood for the trees.


Co-occurring disorders, sometimes known as dual diagnosis in the addiction world, are common in people who are seeking help for misusing substances. Unfortunately, untangling the nest of a mental health condition and picking out addiction is akin to asking, what came first, the chicken or the egg?


Did the depression and anxiety cause you to drink? Or did the drinking or drugging cause you to have depression and anxiety? It’s very difficult to tell when the person is still drinking or using.


In the end, what really matters is starting the healing journey toward building a sustainable life of sobriety, like we offer at Ocean Hills Rehab. And the only way to do that is to get clean and sober before tackling any other problems, including mental health disorders.


Putting down the substance: getting a clearer picture

In general, addiction and mental health practitioners believe that before treating any mental health condition, the person first and foremost needs to put down the drink or drugs they are using. Only then can a clearer picture emerge of what is really going on for them, and a suitable treatment approach worked out.


Mental health disorders can range from anxiety and depression, to more complex conditions like bipolar disorder or PTSD. Some of these conditions might have genetic components, or develop through life circumstances, and possibly also be impacted by lifestyle. They must be diagnosed by a suitably qualified medical professional, generally a psychiatrist (who can prescribe medicine) or a psychologist who can prescribe a course of treatment.


No progress toward mental wellness is going to happen until the person is abstinent and well supported by professionals and a strong community

Whatever mental health disorders may exist, one thing is certain - adding alcohol or drugs to it is like adding fuel to the fire. No progress toward mental wellness is going to happen until the person is abstinent and well supported by professionals and a strong community.

However, this is where it gets confusing and hard for people suffering from addiction, and their families, to figure out what to do first. Which health professional should they see? What treatment should precede another?


At Ocean Hills, our job is to support our guests struggling with substance abuse to become abstinent and to help them build a life of sobriety. Our team of qualified addiction and mental health therapists are experts in guiding people through the challenges of getting sober, and we work closely with other medical professionals as needed when it’s possible that a guest might have a co-occurring mental health disorder.


Never lose hope

The Ocean Hills team knows first hand that strong, sustainable sobriety is possible when there are co-occurring disorders. Many of our team have decades of experience of practicing in this area, and some of our team members also have lived experience around this. They are a shining example that anything is possible when you get clean and sober.

So, don’t lose hope - a healthy, happy recovery is possible with the right professional support both before, during and after rehab at Ocean Hills with our robust clinical practices.


If you’re worried about yourself or a loved one’s substance use, call Elaine for a confidential chat on 027 573 7744 to see if Ocean Hills is right for you or your loved one.

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