The Relationship Between Mental Health and Substance Abuse

The findings on patients who experience mental health and substance abuse issues are only just beginning to be understood. Based on clinical and scientific research, the dual diagnosis of PTSD and substance abuse is surprisingly common. The rate of PTSD among women in substance abuse treatment is 30%-59%. (Kessler, Sonnega, Bromet, Huges, & Nelson, 1995; Langeland & Hartgers, 1998; Najavits, Weiss & Shaw, 1997; Stewart, 1996; Stewart, Conrad, Pihl, & Dongier, 1999; Triffleman, 1998).

It is important to understand why PTSD and substance abuse often go hand in hand. It is stated that substance abuse is often viewed as “self medication” to cope with the overwhelming emotion of PTSD.

Although PTSD and substance abuse affect both males and females, the dual diagnosis is two to three times more common in women than in men. (Brown & Wolfe, 1994; Najavits et al., 1998c).

With all of this being said, at Doors of Hope we see this struggle and help our women who are fighting mental illness and substance abuse. We do this through providing the holistic care of a licensed mental health counselor for our clients, along with supporting them through their 12 step recovery program with the help of our Peer Recovery Specialist.