When mental health and addiction collide
Which comes first, a mental health issue or an addiction? There’s no one answer; it depends on the individual’s circumstances. Here’s an example to illustrate: Jack became depressed after he lost his job and his partner, and after several weeks he turned to alcohol as a means to cope. Regardless of what comes first, when a person like Jack develops a mental health disorder and an addiction at the same time, it’s called comorbidity or concurrent disorders. A specific behaviour or the use of a substance becomes a problem when it impacts negatively on a person’s health, relationships, and performance at work. The frequency, duration and intensity of the behaviour or use – and its consequences – determines whether the addictive behaviours meet the criteria set for a subtype of mental health disorders called substance-related and addictive disorders.
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Article by Bill Howatt, chief research and development officer of work force productivity with Morneau Shepell.