The relationship between mental illness and substance abuse is a challenge that many individuals face. This intricate connection often manifests in a vicious cycle, where one exacerbates the other, leading to a spiral of despair.

We’ll explore the common mental illnesses that frequently co-occur with substance abuse, shedding light on the subtle indicators that someone may be grappling with both. The second part of this article will focus on the crucial step of seeking professional assistance and the comprehensive support offered by The Cabin Chiang Mai.

The Cabin Chiang Mai is a drug addiction treatment centre located near Chiang Mai in the hills of Northern Thailand. We offer an effective programme to break the reliance on substances and help those struggling with mental illness to get their lives back on track.

Substance abuse can increase mental illness.

Understanding the Link: Mental Health vs Drugs Use

For people suffering from mental health issues, substances can be seen as the answer to their problems, so much so that they are increasingly being considered to be co-occurring disorders. Drugs and alcohol are readily available, and their use can be hidden from friends and family. However, taking these substances can often increase the symptoms of mental illness without the user being aware. Substance use disorder (SUD) is seen as a mental illness in its own right that can add to a mentally ill person’s existing problems.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders, encompassing conditions such as generalised anxiety disorder and panic disorder, can drive individuals to seek solace in substances. The overwhelming sense of unease and fear can propel someone towards alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism, creating a temporary escape from the relentless grip of the condition.


Depression, a common mental health issue characterised by anger, sadness, lack of drive, and insomnia, often coexists with substance abuse. Individuals battling depression may turn to substances in an attempt to self-medicate and alleviate the crushing weight of their emotional pain. This reliance on substances only deepens the cycle of despair.

Substance abuse can increase mental illness

Personality Disorders

Personality disorders, which involve lasting patterns of alternative behaviours and inner experiences, can be further complicated by substance abuse. Individuals grappling with conditions such as borderline personality disorder may turn to substances to regulate intense emotions and gain a semblance of control over their chaotic mental health. However, substance abuse only deepens the disorders and increases the mood swings.


Schizophrenia, a severe mental disorder marked by distorted thinking and impaired perception, also intersects with substance abuse. Schizophrenic people have much higher rates of alcohol and drug abuse. The complex interplay between the two can be challenging to disentangle, as substances may offer a misguided sense of relief from the distorted reality, sometimes resulting from the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Recognising the Signs: Physical, Social, and Behavioural Clues

The Cabin Chiang Mai treats co-occurring disorders

Identifying individuals grappling with both mental illness and substance abuse requires a keen awareness of the physical, social, and behavioural clues. Physical signs may include changes in sleep patterns, unexplained weight loss or gain, and deteriorating personal hygiene. Socially, withdrawal from friends and family, strained relationships, and a decline in social activities can be indicative of underlying struggles. Behavioural clues may manifest as sudden mood swings, increased irritability, or neglect of responsibilities at work or home.

Understanding these subtle indicators is vital for early intervention and support. It can prevent the continuation of both mental health and substance abuse issues.

The Cabin Chiang Mai

Navigating co-occurring disorders demands professional assistance, and The Cabin Chiang Mai offers just this. Situated amidst the serene landscapes of Thailand, our rehabilitation centre offers a holistic approach to treating both mental health and substance abuse issues.

Our Facilities

The Cabin Chiang Mai provides a luxurious, tranquil and supportive environment for individuals on the path to recovery. With state-of-the-art facilities surrounded by nature in the hills of northern Thailand and designed to cater to both mental health and addiction concerns, the centre offers a respite from the challenges faced by those with co-occurring disorders.

The Cabin comfortable private villas. Colonial Bedroom

Treatment Programmes

Tailored treatment programmes address the unique needs of individuals dealing with both mental health and substance abuse issues. The integration of evidence-based rehabilitation techniques, physical therapy, counselling, The Kintsugi Programme, and support groups ensures a comprehensive and personalised approach to recovery.

The Cabin's onsite medical staff

Our treatment process starts with detoxification from substance abuse using medically established protocols based on individual assessment and presentation of symptoms. This is supported by a qualified medical team of nurses and a psychiatrist who will diagnose and administer the appropriate treatment.

Our clients settle into a structured routine of proper sleep, exercise and eating specially prepared, nutritious meals. The treatment programme is structured to address and treat substance dependence and to address specific mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. Episodes of trauma are often associated with these symptoms, and our programme is also specifically tailored to address this. It is delivered in a holistic treatment setting, incorporating yoga, mindfulness, art therapy and meditation into the treatment process.

Staff Qualifications

The Cabin Chiang Mai boasts a team of highly qualified and compassionate professionals dedicated to guiding individuals through their journey to recovery. We have expertise and experience in treating both mental health and addiction issues. Our staff are well-equipped to address the complex interplay of co-occurring disorders.

Personal Counselling Session at The Cabin

Take the First Step: Contact The Cabin Chiang Mai

Suffering from both mental illness and substance abuse is a challenge, but one that you can overcome with the right help. By understanding the complexities of co-occurring disorders and seeking the support of dedicated professionals, individuals can start on a transformative journey towards recovery and reclaiming their lives.

In the face of mental health and alcohol and drug use challenges, seeking professional help is a courageous and pivotal step. If you or someone you care about is grappling with these issues, The Cabin Chiang Mai offers a lifeline. Contact us today.

About the Author

Lee Daniel Hawker-Lecesne

Lee Daniel Hawker-Lecesne

Clinical Director at The Cabin (MBPsS, British Psychological Society Number: 479469) Lee is a Registered Member of the British Psychological Society. He graduated from Anglia Ruskin University in the UK with a degree in Behavioural Science and a postgraduate clinical focus on addictions from the University of Bath. Lee is a focused and ambitious individual who has in-depth training and experience in a broad range of clinical psychological interventions in the treatment of addiction, dual diagnosis, and complex trauma.

Related Posts