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NIDA

Addiction Science: From Molecules to Managed Care

Why do mental illnesses and substance abuse co-occur?

Why do mental illnesses and substance abuse co-occur?

Possible reasons that mental illnesses and substance abuse tend to co-occur include: (1) the propensity for people to self-medicate in order to relieve mental distress or illness; (2) the increased risk for mental illness brought on by drug abuse, especially in those with genetic or other vulnerabilities; and (3) the overlap of risk factors for both conditions. Understanding the various contributions of these factors will help us develop more effective prevention and treatment interventions for both drug abuse and other mental disorders.

This page was last updated July 2008