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Alcoholism and Psychiatric Disorders PMC

Mental illnesses are disorders that affect your mood, thinking, and behavior. Alcohol affects the pleasure, reward, and motivation centers in the human brain. Excessive alcohol use alters brain chemistry and leads to physical, psychological, and social dysfunction. Alcoholism is a complex condition with biological, genetical, psychological, and social components that can occur due to both genetic and environmental factors. Many people are unsure whether alcoholism is considered a chronic disease, a mental illness, or both.

In other words, alcohol-related psychiatric symptoms and signs can be labeled an alcohol-induced psychiatric disorder in DSM–IV or DSM–IV–TR without qualifying as syndromes. Many people with AUD do recover, but setbacks are common among people in treatment. Behavioral therapies can help people develop skills to avoid and overcome triggers, such as stress, that might lead to drinking.

Alcoholism as a Trigger for Mental Illness

This disturbance then impacts the quality of your sleep.4 Since quality sleep is essential to positive well-being, alcohol use can negatively impact our mental health in many ways. People with a mental illness or alcohol use disorder often find it difficult to function responsibly in their daily lives. For those who suffer from both disorders, the problem is that much more complex. Those with either disease are statistically more likely to develop the other disease. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, this is why a person who misuses drugs begins to feel “flat,” lacking motivation, lifeless, or depressed and unable to enjoy things they used to enjoy.

is alcoholism a mental illness

If you think you need to talk to someone about how much alcohol you’re drinking, help is available – make an appointment to see your GP for advice and support. It may feel like this helps in the short term, as you may feel more relaxed. Alcohol affects the chemicals in your brain – slowing down (depressing) how your brain and central nervous system functions.

Achieve lasting recovery from addiction

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “about half of all people who have one condition also have the other.” When the conditions occur simultaneously, professionals refer to the diagnosis as a co-occurring disorder, comorbidity or dual diagnosis. The hallmarks of anxiety disorders are excessive and recurrent fear or worry episodes is alcoholism a mental illness that cause significant distress or impairment and that last for at least 6 months. People with anxiety disorders may have both psychological symptoms, such as apprehensiveness and irritability, and somatic symptoms, such as fatigue and muscular tension. Too much alcohol affects your speech, muscle coordination and vital centers of your brain.

A personalized treatment program will increase your chances for a successful recovery. Many of these symptoms occur because alcohol is a diuretic, which encourages water loss through urine and causes dehydration. Dehydration contributes to most hangover symptoms, especially if you forget to hydrate while you’re drinking. Long-term alcohol use can also affect the liver, kidneys, heart and brain.

The Addiction Cycle

These people resided predominantly in their communities rather than in hospitals; they received few vocational, recreational, and social opportunities but experienced regular exposure and ready access to AOD’s. As a result, the rates of diagnosed AOD-use disorders in mental health settings have continued to rise. In addition, clinicians have become more aware of the high prevalence of AOD-use disorders and more skilled at identifying them (Cuffel 1996). Knowledge of the psychiatric illnesses that run in the patient’s family also may enhance diagnostic accuracy.

  • Our alcohol recovery program focuses on both the substance dependence, but also the mental health issues that may be present that feeds into the addiction.
  • If you’re unsure what type of treatment would work best for you, you can always talk with a professional for recommendations based on your circumstances.
  • The use of standard screening and evaluation procedures could, however, greatly improve detection and diagnosis of AOD-related problems as well as treatment planning for this patient population.
  • Its ultimate outcome was the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980, which was a large-scale attempt to empower CMHCs on a national level just as Carter had previously done in Georgia.
  • It’s also true that people with severe mental illness are more likely to have alcohol problems.
  • A qualified admissions representative can help you identify the right kind of alcohol treatment.

If you’re feeling nervous or anxious at a party, you might use alcohol to help you feel more confident and less afraid. Take time to unwind and relax in healthier ways at the end of a stressful day. Research from 2019 found ACT may help people who haven’t benefited from existing AUD treatments, but larger studies are needed to support its effectiveness. As far back as 1933, the Standard Classified Nomenclature of Diseases listed alcoholism as a disease. Both the American Medical Association (AMA) and APA approved this classification. If there are any concerns about content we have published, please reach out to us at

Integrated Treatment

Around 18 percent of the general population have a co-occurring anxiety disorder of some form.4 Social anxiety disorders have a particularly strong link to marijuana use problems. BetterHelp offers affordable mental health care via phone, video, or live-chat. In a comprehensive review, Fischer (1990) found that between 3.6 and 26 percent of homeless adults suffered from both a mental disorder and AUD. The rates of co-occurring mental and AOD-use disorders ranged from 8 to 31 percent.

is alcoholism a mental illness

It affects the part of your brain that controls inhibition (the process of restraining your impulses or certain behaviours because of factors such as your morals or lack of confidence). This is why after a drink or two you may feel less anxious and more confident, or ‘lose your inhibitions’. Here, I explain how alcohol affects your mental health, and share other healthier ways to relax at the end of a long and busy day. Mental health conditions cause distress or setbacks socially, at work, and in other meaningful activities. In 2022, I went on a boat trip in the south of France with some lifelong friends to celebrate our 50th birthdays. I was nervous about sailing through wine country with enthusiastic drinkers in a confined space.

When a mental health problem is ignored, the drug or alcohol addiction can worsen. When alcohol or drug use increases, the symptoms of mental illness can intensify. Having a co-occurring disorder can make treatment more complicated, but recovery is possible—particularly when your mental health and behavioral health conditions are treated at the same time by professional, licensed providers.

is alcoholism a mental illness

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