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Is Drug Addiction A Mental Illness?

Some drug abusers are simultaneously diagnosed with a mental disorder and vice versa. Studies show that a person diagnosed with anxiety or mood disorders are twice more likely to suffer from drug use disorder than other people. The same goes for persons with antisocial personality or a conduct disorder. Persons with drug disorders may also suffer from anxiety and mood disorders. Read our article, “Is Drug Addiction A Disease” for more info on the subject.

Drug addicts have problems with their mentality as addictive drugs have been known to change the way the brain responds in fundamental ways. Drugs can disturb the normal person’s hierarchy of needs and substitute it for new priorities, which is mainly to satisfy his cravings. The compulsive behaviors created by the drug may also override the person’s ability to control his impulses regardless of the consequences known to him. All these are the hallmarks of other mental illnesses.

The resource for the diagnostic criteria of all mental disorders, DSM cites drug use disorders as a mental illness distinguished between drug dependence and drug abuse. The former is synonymous with the latter. On the contrary, the criteria for drug abuse is hinged on harmful consequences that come as an effect of the repeated use of the drug. This, however, does not include tolerance, compulsive use, and withdrawal signs of addiction.

Men Vs Women: The Possibility Of Drug Use

Gender is said to be a contributing factor in the patterns of observed comorbidities. For instance, the overall rates of drug dependence and abuse are higher in males than in females. Males are also more likely to have antisocial personality disorder, while women tend to have higher rates of anxiety and mood disorders.

Medications Used To Treat ADHD May Be A Contributing Factor To Drug Addiction In The Adolescence Stage

A number of studies have also shown that there may be an increased risk for drug use in adolescents with untreated ADHD. However, some studies suggest that only a subset of these adolescents are vulnerable and these are those who also have comorbid conduct disorders. With this knowledge, you may consider treatment of ADHD to prevent subsequent drug abuse and other behavioral problems.

Treating childhood ADHD with stimulant meds like amphetamine and methylphenidate may reduce symptoms like fidgeting, inability to concentrate, and execute impulsive behaviors. Parents and physicians, though, have been extremely concerned over stimulants that may increase the child’s vulnerability to abuse drugs later on in life.

Long-term studies with more recent reviews in children with ADHD who were previously treated with stimulant meds such as Ritalin, Adderal, and Concerta have revealed no evidence for such hypothesis. Using this form of research may lead one to question the findings linking medications used to treat ADHD and drug addiction in later years.

On the contrary, it is noteworthy to remember that majority of those studies do have methodological limitations. These limitations may include a small sample size as well as non-randomized study designs. These could mean that more research are necessary to conclude such findings, in particular, the impact of ADHD drugs on children once they grow up to be adolescents.

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