Modern psychiatry no longer views addiction to drugs and alcohol as a misguided lifestyle choice or moral failure. Today, addiction is frequently defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disease, characterized by compulsive substance use, despite harmful consequences.

It is now also widely recognized that in the majority of cases substance use disorders are driven by co-occurring psychiatric disorders. These include depression, anxiety, mood and personality disorders, eating disorders, unaddressed trauma, and other mental health conditions.

The link between traumatic experiences and substance use disorders has been well established. Trauma caused by physical and sexual abuse, for example, occurs at alarmingly high rates in the United States. If undiagnosed and untreated, trauma can lead to substance misuse by the affected individual in an attempt to self-medicate the emotional pain caused by the traumatic experience. Often, this involves multiple occasions of abuse over long periods of time.

Anxiety and depression are also prevalent in our society and often connected to traumatic life experiences. A recent study revealed that people with anxiety and depression are consuming a disproportionate share of opioid prescription painkillers. Adults with depression and anxiety receive more than fifty percent of the opioid prescriptions distributed each year in the United States.

More and more young people appear to be struggling with mental health issues. According to research published by the American Psychological Association, the percentage of teens and young adults with depression, anxiety and other mental health problems have increased dramatically over the past decade.

Many of them have started or may in the future begin to self-medicate their mental health issues with mood-altering, addictive substances. If trauma, stress, anxiety, and depression are the real drivers of substance misuse, these underlying conditions need to be addressed in addiction treatment.

Members of the Encore treatment team meet regularly to discuss the progress each client has made. They identify needs, discuss options, and allocate services as indicated. Close collaboration and coordination can help identify new issues before they become problematic and identify new opportunities to advance the healing process. A successful launch into recovery requires a coordinated team effort to provide individualized therapies that take the whole patient into account.