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Alcoholism and Other Psychological Disorders

A. Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP, Kaushik Misra, Ph.D., Amy K. Epner, Ph.D., and Galen Morgan Cooper, Ph.D. , edited by C. E. Zupanick, Psy.D. Updated: Jun 5th 2019

Psychological disorders can play a role in the formation of any addiction, including alcoholism. Sometimes these problems preceded the addiction and the addiction served as a coping tool. Sometimes they developed after addiction.

Regardless of why these problems occurred, people must learn to address them. Otherwise, the risk of relapse is quite high. Sometimes, these various problems and difficulties indicate an underlying, unidentified psychological disorder. In fact, alcohol abuse and other psychological disorders occur together with a rather astonishing frequency. In this context, alcohol abuse may represent an attempt to relieve symptoms of other psychological disorders. Addiction professionals often call this self-medication. If these underlying disorders are not identified and treated along with the addiction, the risk of relapse remains quite high.

Anxiety (which includes trauma): 25% of alcohol dependent individuals and 40% of drug dependent individuals also have an anxiety diagnosis (Grant, Hasin, Stinson, Dawson, et al., 2005).

Mood disorders (which include depression and bipolar disorder): 25% of alcohol dependent individuals and 50% of drug dependent individuals also have a mood disorder diagnosis (Grant, et al., 2005).

Personality disorder: 50% of alcohol dependent individuals and 70% of drug dependent individuals also have a personality disorder diagnosis (Grant, et al., 2005).

ADHD: 15-25% of adults with alcohol and drug use disorders also have an ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Wilens, 2006).

 

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