What Mental Disorders Are Most Commonly Comorbid with Alcoholism?

Different reasons lead people to alcoholism. Not everyone who is struggling with alcohol addiction started out experimenting with it. Some individuals, especially those with mental health problems, use alcohol to self-medicate, escape reality for a while or numb their feelings.        

The three mental health disorders that are most commonly comorbid with alcoholism are depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.


Individuals struggling with depression often turn to alcohol to try to make themselves feel better. Alcohol is a nervous system depressant that interacts with certain brain receptors to flood the brain with dopamine. This produces a temporary feeling of pleasure, improved mood and euphoria. 

Unfortunately, it doesn’t last long and when it wears out, the depression comes back. What’s worse is that over time, the brain will demand regular surges of dopamine otherwise the person sinks into serious withdrawal symptoms.


People with anxiety disorder use alcohol in pretty much the same way as those with depression. They often self-medicate to try and suppress their symptoms and to make them feel in control, albeit temporarily. 

Alcohol works by increasing the level of endorphins in the brain which in turn leads to feelings of well-being and pleasure. As these feelings wear off, the individual has to keep taking more alcohol to achieve the same high.

Others with anxiety will take alcohol to increase the effect of anxiety medications such as Xanax or Valium. This increases the risk of overdosing and being addicted to these prescription pills.

Bipolar disorder

Those with bipolar disorder cycle through bipolar mania and bipolar depression episodes that can be hard to deal with.

When going through the manic phase, they often have poor impulse control. This coupled with the racing thoughts, anxiety and agitation that also occur can lead to poor decisions which may, in turn, put a strain on work or social relationships. 

When this happens, the individual may turn to alcohol to try and forget their behavior or to help deal with the consequences. Again, the effect of alcohol is short-lived and the resulting withdrawal symptoms may only make things worse.

Get the Help You Need Today

At the Impact Outpatient Program, we have addiction treatment specialists who are experienced in treating dual diagnosis. We understand how much of a burden it is to deal with both addiction and mental health issues and do our best to help you turn your life around. We offer evidence-based, judgment-free care that’s based on individual recovery goals. Both our intensive outpatient treatment and outpatient care programs are designed to give clients the flexibility they need to attend treatment while still keeping up with their responsibilities. 

We also offer virtual telemedicine sessions that are ideal for those with comorbid mental disorders who can’t make it to in-person sessions on certain days. You don’t have to suffer in silence, our rehab center in Kentucky is ready to provide the treatment you need to get better. Contact us today to learn more about the rehab programs we offer.

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