The Importance of Treating Mental Health and Addiction Together

Alcohol rehab in Georgia

The clinical staff at Arise come from long careers in the addiction treatment and mental health fields. One of the key principles behind Arise programming is to fill a need that we did not see being sufficiently met elsewhere of treating mental health and addiction together.

While there are certainly excellent behavioral health facilities and excellent addiction treatment centers, we believe that many of these places miss an opportunity. By not treating both of these key elements of emotional and physical health equally and holistically as part of the same big picture, they miss an opportunity to help the whole person recover and reconnect to their deepest values. This holistic approach of treating BOTH the mental health issues and addiction together are essential pieces to supporting long-term recovery.

Why Mental Health and Addiction Are Intertwined

When a person has been in active addiction, we view the interplay between the mental health issues causing the addiction completely inseparable from the addiction itself.

Behavioral health and addiction are like strands of a rope that have been tightly woven together over years of dysfunctional patterns that deeply involve both of these areas.

You cannot deal with one without dealing with the other.

Here’s a general example of how this cycle might look. A person with a history of addiction might be able to stay sober for a period of time. However, if they do not address underlying mental health issues, they will eventually find themselves in a sustained state of heightened difficult emotion (grief, constant distress, unresolved anger, etc.).

If the person does not have effective coping mechanisms for dealing with these difficult emotions, they eventually lead to emotional avoidance in the form of denial, procrastination, scapegoating others, or any number of ineffective behaviors that strain their relationship with others and how they feel about themselves.

Even if the person has not relapsed yet, their inability to accept and resolve these difficult feeling states leads to increasing strain and mounting pressure. The person  will start to feel increasingly overwhelmed and isolated and become more codependent in their relationships.

Eventually there is a breaking point, and deep in the brain, there is a memory of when substance use provided immediate relief to all of these emotional difficulties. This memory of “when it worked”  persists despite the fact that drinking or using drugs has not provided this relief in years or even decades.  In fact, at this point in the progression of their disease, the substance use only makes things worse. However, in these moments of intense pressure, the brain only remembers the times that it did work.

Before long, the pressure and stress of unresolved emotions is too much for any one person to take. The memory of when alcohol and drugs allowed the person to temporarily avoid these emotions becomes too tempting. Despite every external piece of evidence that it is a bad decision to do so,  the pleading of friends and family members to stop, and the person’s own promises to themselves that they will stop, eventually left in this state too long, they pick up the drink or the drug and the compulsive disease process resumes.

Treating What’s Underneath the Addiction

Our goal at Arise is to teach clients to cope with and manage the emotional difficulties of everyday life before the person gets to this breaking point.

We do this by treating the addiction and the mental health concerns together. Clinical research indicates that substance abuse and mental health issues are often connected.  In the case of people dealing with addiction, the two issues are very intertwined.

We cannot treat addiction without treating trauma and family of origin issues. We cannot address addiction without addressing  anxiety and depression. And we cannot help people stay in long term recovery without replacing codependency, avoidance, and ineffective coping strategies with community, connection, and the acceptance of oneself and others.

Our programming at Arise is focused on helping clients discover a new way to exist in the world and in their relationships where they can be connected to their values. When we as humans find ways to do this, we have the resilience to handle the difficult feelings that will inevitably emerge as part of everyday life.

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