Over 43 million adults in the U.S. experience mental illness each year, with nearly 8 million of those people also suffer from a substance use disorder. Addiction is difficult to experience in any form, but when paired with other disorders, it becomes even more challenging.

Comorbidity, or also known as Co-Occurring disorders, occurs when an individual is diagnosed with two or more disorders or illnesses at the same time. Those who are going through active addiction are nearly twice as likely to suffer from mood and anxiety disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder—and vice versa. Substance abuse disorders may increase symptoms of other mental illnesses, and mental disorders can sometimes lead to substance abuse.

Risk factors such as genetic vulnerabilities, stressful environments or traumatic experiences can increase a person’s chance to develop multiple mental health disorders. Mental illnesses can change a person’s thoughts, mood and behavior and often cause those suffering to pull away from friends and family, lose focus on school or work, and experience extreme emotions. Using substances such as opioids and other drugs can also intensify the emotions and stress felt through mental illnesses.

Due to the high percentage of Co-Occurring cases, those seeking help for substance abuse should be screened for other mental illnesses as well. Treatment programs for individuals recovering from addiction need to include treatment options for other disorders as well, and it is important for family and friends of those in recovery to remember that their loved ones could be experiencing several hardships at once. Most importantly, if you are struggling with one or more mental health or substance abuse disorders, remember that you are not alone and recovery is possible.

For addiction help, call the Tennessee Redline at 1-800-889-9789.

For more information on mental health and treatment options in your area, call the SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline at 1-800-662-4357.