Dr Michael Vivian: Some Common Mental Health Conditions That Co-Occur With Addiction

Undeniably, the struggle of addiction can be a lonely road, but in many cases, a person is often confronting more than addiction alone. A remarkable attribute of addiction is its frequent companion: mental health conditions.

This phenomenon, known as co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis, is a pretty complex dynamic where mental health disorders and substance use disorders simultaneously occur. In this article, Dr Michael Vivian will discuss some of the common mental health conditions that co-occur with addiction.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are common accomplices to substance use disorders. These are encompassing generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder, amongst others.

In this case, patients might turn to substances as a way of coping with the unrelenting worry and fear that characterize these disorders. Unfortunately, while substances may provide a temporary reprieve, they often exacerbate anxiety symptoms in the long run.


Depression, marked by persistent sadness, loss of interest in activities, and feelings of hopelessness, frequently co-occurs with addiction. As with anxiety disorders, those struggling with depression might seek solace in drugs or alcohol to mitigate their overwhelming feelings of despair. However, substance use often intensifies depressive symptoms, creating a vicious cycle.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a debilitating mental health condition triggered by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. People who are suffering from PTSD—those struggling to come to terms with their traumatic experiences—may use substances as an attempt to numb or forget their painful memories. Regrettably, substance use can worsen PTSD symptoms, leading to increased distress and functional impairment.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, characterized by extreme mood swings—from manic highs to depressive lows—is another mental health condition. This is also commonly seen in most people with substance use disorders. For that matter, substance use might be a misguided attempt to manage these mood swings, thus leading to addiction.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impulsivity, difficulty focusing, and hyperactivity. People with ADHD might turn to substances to cope with their symptoms or counteract the effects of their medication. The impulsivity associated with ADHD also increases the likelihood of experimenting with substances and subsequently developing an addiction.


Schizophrenia and other common psychotic disorders are also seen to coexist with substance use disorders. People with schizophrenia may self-medicate with drugs or alcohol in an attempt to alleviate symptoms like hallucinations or delusions. However, substance use often worsens these symptoms and can even trigger psychotic episodes.

Personality Disorders

Lastly personality disorders, such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD), often co-occur with addiction. The chronic feelings of emptiness and fear of abandonment in BPD, or the disregard for right and wrong in ASPD, can lead people to misuse substances, thereby fueling addiction.

Get The Most Recommended Help For Addiction And Good Mental Health

In conclusion, understanding the intricate relationship between mental health conditions and addiction is highly crucial for getting the most comprehensive addiction treatment. Dr Michael Vivian believes that by recognizing and addressing these intertwined issues, treatment strategies can be designed to tackle both the addiction and the co-occurring mental health condition simultaneously.


Ivy Skye Marshall: Ivy, a social justice reporter, covers human rights issues, social movements, and stories of community resilience.