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October 1st through the 7th is Mental Illness Awareness Week, a perfect time to spread awareness about the number of mental health conditions people experience. It is also crucial to spread awareness about substance use disorder (SUD). Recognizing mental illness or SUD within yourself can be challenging, but it is possible with the right support system.

Along with finding the right support system, recognizing mental illness is critical to preventing people from developing a heroin addiction. Unfortunately, many people use substances when they lack healthy coping skills. But self-medicating with any substance, especially a dangerous substance like heroin, worsens mental health conditions. It can also cause adverse physical conditions and can be fatal.

If you or someone you love is struggling with a mental health condition and heroin addiction, seek treatment immediately. West Coast Recovery Centers can help you get the help you need, free you from the chains of dependence, and improve your overall mental health.

The Difference Between Recognizing Mental Illness and Understanding It

One of the first steps in supporting a loved one through addiction treatment is understanding addiction itself. That means educating yourself on what it is, what substance they depend on, and how you can conductively support them in recovery.

Doing this also requires you to understand the difference between recognizing mental illness and understanding it. Most individuals can recognize the signs, but not everyone understands them. To help a loved one with SUD, you must realize that it is a complex, chronic condition.

Instead of shaming or guilting a loved one into seeking treatment, you must encourage them. They have to want sobriety and feel supported by those around them. Plus, most with SUD or a mental health condition struggle to recognize the signs within themselves. So, how can you expect to recognize the signs of mental illness in your loved ones?

Recognizing Mental Illness Within Your Loved Ones

Mental illnesses are extremely common across the United States. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about one in five adults experience a mental health condition. This encompasses many disorders that can vary in severity depending on the illness and the person.

Recognizing the signs of mental illness within your loved ones will differ depending on the type of mental health condition they are experiencing. However, some general signs to look out for include:

  • Feeling sad more than usual
  • An inability to function day-to-day
  • Withdrawing from other friends or family members
  • Erratic behavior or extreme mood swings
  • Trouble sleeping or insomnia
  • Excessive hostility and anger toward people
  • Extreme changes in appetite
  • Lack of interest in enjoyable activities and hobbies
  • Intense nervousness or anxiety
  • Experiencing delusions, hallucinations, or paranoia

By recognizing these signs within your loved one, you can help them come to the realization that they are struggling with a bigger problem. Another key sign is the development of SUD. But what is the connection between mental illness and addiction, particularly heroin addiction?

How Are Mental Health Conditionntal Health Conditions and Heroin Addiction Connected?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) describes heroin as an “opioid drug made from morphine.” It “enters the brain rapidly and binds to opioid receptors on cells located in many areas, especially those involved in feelings of pain and pleasure.” Additionally, it causes several short and long-term effects, some of which include:

  • Insomnia
  • Falling in and out of consciousness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Impaired mental functioning
  • Collapsed veins from injecting the drug
  • Damaged nose tissue
  • Heart disease and infection
  • Liver and kidney disease
  • Respiratory problems
  • Development of other mental health conditions

The reason individuals with mental health conditions end up dependent on heroin is they do not have healthy coping techniques to manage their mental illness. Instead of developing strategies to manage their mental health, they use substances. Because of this, many people struggling with heroin addiction also experience mental illness.

But to convince a loved one to seek treatment, you must first be able to recognize the signs.

What Are the Signs of Heroin Addiction?

Some of the potential signs of heroin addiction that may indicate SUD within a loved one include:

  • Finding drug paraphernalia, like syringes or pipes
  • Trying to hide injection sites
  • Not paying attention to personal hygiene
  • Decreased performance at school or work
  • Slurred speech, short breath, constricted pupils, and flushed skin
  • Extreme changes in appetite and weight loss
  • Feeling like you and other friends are being avoided
  • Disorientation and reduced cognitive function
  • Experiencing hallucinations and delusions
  • Periods of high activity followed by deep crashes and exhaustion

But what can you do with this information?

Recognizing Mental Illness and Seeking Proper Help

Upon recognizing the signs of mental illness and addiction, you can help a loved one seek proper treatment. They may require intervention. But you can start by talking to your loved one, setting boundaries, creating a safe environment, and showing them love, empathy, and compassion. Even then, it can be hard to get them into treatment, but the hard work of helping them through recovery is worth it.

October 1st through the 7th is Mental Illness Awareness Week, and with it comes the perfect time to spread awareness about the number of mental health conditions people experience. We must also spread awareness about substance use disorders (SUD) during this time. That is because most people struggling with SUD also experience some mental health condition. With that being said, recognizing mental illness within a loved one is vital. It can help you also recognize the signs of heroin addiction and help you encourage them to seek treatment. If you are looking for more information about helping a loved one struggling with mental illness and addiction, reach out to West Coast Recovery Centers at (760) 492-6509 today.