How are Addiction and Mental Health Issues Related?

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Many of us struggling with addictions are also living with mental health issues, and vice versa. Oftentimes we aren’t aware of the connections between the two. Many of us don’t have a deep personal understanding of why we’re struggling the way we are. We know we’re in pain, but we don’t know why. Here are a few ways to understand how addictions and mental health issues can be related.

Both addictions and mental health issues can be related to attachments to similar thought patterns and limiting beliefs that we’ve adopted after traumatic experiences. For example, many people living with both addictions and depression tend to believe that they are inherently unworthy, inadequate, unlovable and shameful. They believe they don’t deserve love, compassion or forgiveness.

Another common theme among addiction and mental health issues is the prevalence of self-destructiveness. We don’t love ourselves. We don’t believe in ourselves. Our instincts for self-preservation and self-protection have been damaged, often from the trauma we’ve experienced. We’ve allowed the limiting beliefs we’ve adopted to form our identities. We lose our sense of self. We feel we don’t want to live, and we contemplate suicide. We self-harm, cut, or otherwise physically hurt ourselves. We stay in toxic and abusive relationships.

Sadness is a part of life that none of us is immune to. Many of us feel hopeless from time to time. Those of us struggling with addictions and mental health issues can find ourselves feeling total hopelessness – about life, about the world, about ourselves and our abilities – on a recurring or regular basis, so much so that we have a hard time holding onto our will to live. We don’t see the point to living life with so much suffering.

Addictions and mental health issues can feed off of each other, compound and exacerbate each other. We develop coping mechanisms for depression and anxiety that turn into compulsive behaviors that become addictive. Similarly, our addictions can cause us so much sadness, remorse, shame and regret that they can fuel our depression and suicidal thoughts. They really are two halves of the same coin, and we’re often caught in cycles of both addictions and mental health issues simultaneously. Understanding one means exploring the other, and vice versa.

We have firsthand, personal experience with recovery, and we’re here to help. You’re not alone! Call (800) 871-5440.