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Substance use disorder is a condition in which a person is dependent on a substance, such as drugs or alcohol. A mental illness is a condition that occurs when someone experiences changes in mood, behavior, or thinking. Sometimes, these two conditions can occur at the same time (co-occurring disorders) and may be diagnosed together (dual diagnosis).
Substance use disorder and mental illness can share symptoms and can have similar causes, such as exposure to stress or changes in brain chemicals. The risk for developing both of these conditions can be passed from parent to child (inherited). People with mental illnesses sometimes use drugs to try and relieve symptoms, and this can lead to substance use disorder. Substance use disorders occur more often in people who have depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, or personality disorders. When some drugs are used regularly, they can cause people to have symptoms of mental illness.
Symptoms vary widely for substance use disorder and mental illness, especially because these conditions can be present at the same time.
Substance use disorder and mental illnesses can be difficult to diagnose at the same time because of how varied and complex the symptoms are. Because these conditions can interact, one condition may be missed. This is why it is important to be completely honest with your health care provider about substance use and your other symptoms.
This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.
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