ADDICTION AND BEHAVIORAL DISORDERS - THE LINKS
By Thom Montgomery, Ph. D. CADC
Director of Research
The links are clear: The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services states alcohol and other drug [AOD]
use can both cause psychiatric symptoms and mimic psychiatric disorders, and psychiatric disorders can mimic
addictive disorders. With some 70 percent of addicts suffering from co-occurring disorders, this fact is vital to
Valid treatment approaches for addiction must address this issue of co-occuring disorders. To do so
requires the latest in science-based technology and medicine.
Brookside Institute recognizes that only the appropriate, and medically oriented objective diagnostic
tools can properly begin to sort out and identify the issues involved.
Where alcohol and other drug use is the leading element, the type, duration, and severity of the
symptoms are usually related to the type, dose, and duration of the chemical use. Depression, anxiety
and symptoms relating to bi-polar disorders, as well as some symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorders,
can result from AOD use. Persons who actually suffer from such disorders may find some relief in drug
AOD use can also be a causative factor, can provoke the reemergence, or can worsen the severity of
psychiatric disorders, and mask psychiatric symptoms and disorders. Alcohol, for example, is a leading
cause of depression.
Halting alcohol and other drug use can create a withdrawal effect with clusters of psychiatric symptoms
that can also resemble psychiatric disorders. Mood swings relating to withdrawal from drugs can be
misinterpreted as bi-polar disorders, and the agitation related to withdrawal from alcohol or other
sedative hypnotics can be misdiagnosed as anxiety disorders.
Because psychiatric behaviors can mimic behaviors associated with AOD problems, dysfunctional and
maladaptive behaviors consistent with AOD abuse and addiction may actually have their source in other
causes, such as psychiatric, emotional, or social problems.
For example, patients with anxiety and phobias may fear and resist attending Alcoholics Anonymous
or group meetings. Depressed people may be too unmotivated and lethargic to participate in treatment.
Patients with psychotic or manic symptoms may exhibit bizarre behavior and poor interpersonal relations
during treatment, especially during group-oriented activities. Such behaviors may be misinterpreted as
signs of treatment resistance or symptoms of addiction relapse.
Multidisciplinary, science based assessment tools, drug testing, and information from family members
are critical to confirm alcohol and other drug use or the presence of co-occurring mental health