Women with a mental health problem are more likely to become chemically dependent. For many women, alcohol and/or drugs serves as a coping mechanism, but one that can quickly lead to serious consequences. It is critical to receive treatment for both illnesses. This is especially true for women. A greater percentage of women are struggling with both illnesses compared to men.
The most common mental health disorders that co-occur with substance abuse are anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. In all of these cases, exposure to trauma and/or exposure to chemicals alters the brain chemistry. This produces symptoms in response to stressors in the environment. For women, this can mean that normal, everyday stress can lead to anxiety or other mood disorder symptoms, including the need to use chemicals in order to cope.
In some cases, substance abuse may come first and cause mental health symptoms; in other cases mental health conditions can lead to the desire to self-medicate using chemicals. It is often impossible to determine which is the primary issue when a woman has co-occurring disorders. Therefore, the best treatment addresses both types of disorders concurrently. This is what we do.
It is not uncommon for women in other treatment settings to address either their chemical health or their mental health. However, this often means letting a primary issue go unaddressed and putting long-term recovery at risk. Our team of staff are experts in treating both chemical dependency and mental health problems.