May is Mental Health Month, and whenever mental health is considered the link between this subject and substance abuse is undeniable. Some individuals start with substance abuse and over time mental illness starts due to the drug or alcohol use. With others the mental disorder occurs first and the substance abuse is started to control the symptoms that appear. If both substance abuse and a mental disorder occur together then the individual will require specialized rehab treatment and a dual diagnosis. The first diagnosis is substance abuse, and then the second diagnosis will be the mental disorder that is present. This underlying mental disorder may be difficult to diagnose until after the substance abuse is stopped because symptoms could be caused by the drug or alcohol use instead of the mental illness.
During May awareness of mental health is a big topic. This is the perfect opportunity to bring up substance abuse as well because the two topics are connected. Mental health is a subject that needs increased awareness, and this topic should not be one that people are embarrassed or ashamed to talk about. Mental disorders and substance abuse will both affect millions of Americans this year alone. Using May as a springboard to get discussions started about mental health, substance abuse, and treatment options for both conditions can help reverse the trend and improve awareness across the country. Too many people do not understand the causes of poor mental health or substance abuse and this needs to be corrected so that both these conditions can be treated effectively and lose the social stigma attached.