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The Connection between addiction and mental health

Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Center in Santa Barbara, CA

man seeking treatment in Santa Barbara California for substance abuse and mental health.

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Recovery in Santa Barbara, CA

Santa Barbara Recovery is a premier drug and alcohol treatment center in Southern California offering a variety of individualized treatment options for our clients. These include:

  • Partial hospitalization program (PHP)
  • Intensive outpatient treatment (IOP)
  • Outpatient treatment (OP)
  • Aftercare and Local Sober Living Environments (SLEs) for individuals in early recovery.


Each stage of addiction recovery is designed to help the client learn valuable skills to overcome addiction. Our programs are centered around our intensive outpatient program, which utilizes evidence-based treatment, individualized care from professionals who understand addiction, and group therapy that supports recovery.

Our Santa Barbara rehab offers partial hospitalization for individuals in need of more structure and support. Outside local long-term sober living options provide a safe and supportive environment as individuals continue to grow and refine their recovered lives.

What to Expect During Addiction Treatment

At our Santa Barbara rehab center in California, we use a variety of treatment approaches for behavioral and mental health services and conditions. Each client works with a team of professionals to choose the most effective strategy for their situation. 

Our individually tailored treatment plans incorporate proven techniques such as 12-step programs, addiction therapy services, holistic services such as meditation, individual and family counseling sessions, community involvement, and more. The specific treatments available may vary depending on the type of disorder itself. Presented below are some of the more prevalent treatment and support options.

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Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment Programs

  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
  • Inpatient Rehab
  • Outpatient Rehab (OP)
  • Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
  • Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
  • Supportive Housing/SLE
  • Psychiatric Care
  • Clinical Care
  • Licensed Therapists
  • Care Management
  • Alumni/Aftercare Program
  • Life Skills Development/Application
  • Exposure Based Outings/Activities

Addiction Therapy Services


Treatment for co-occurring disorders, also called dual diagnosis, addresses both conditions at the same time. Addiction can change the way that people think, feel, and act, while mental illness is often overlooked when treating people with drug or alcohol use disorders.

Understanding the connection between mental health and addiction is an important element of recovery here at Santa Barbara Recovery. Our aftercare program and licensed therapists help you explore mood disorders and addictive behavior, understand how they are entwined, find treatment, and take steps toward healing.

Understanding Substance Abuse

A substance use disorder (SUD) is a term used to describe addiction disease. It is a chronic brain disease that involves compulsive drug seeking and use, despite the negative consequences. This condition is classified as a disease because drugs alter the brain’s structure and functioning.

Specifically, the substances attach to receptors in the brain that are typically occupied by dopamine, a naturally-produced hormone. When drugs are consumed, an unusually high level of dopamine is generated, resulting in intense euphoria. Continued drug use leads to a reduction in the brain’s natural dopamine production, which is typically triggered by activities that bring happiness, such as exercising, spending time with loved ones, or engaging in favorite hobbies.

Santa Barbara Recovery Center’s drug and alcohol rehab facility in Southern California provides people suffering from addiction and mental illness with a variety of comprehensive treatment services.

Addiction is A Complex, Yet Treatable Disease

Addiction is a persistent illness that alters both the structure and function of the brain, impacting nearly 10% of American adults. Addiction is instigated by a relinquishment of authority over the consumption of a substance, as the brain undergoes a sequence of transformations. This disease is a cycle that targets the brain’s natural desires or reward center.

This transformation commences with the recognition of pleasure and culminates in an uncontrollable urge to engage in compulsive behavior to satisfy that craving. Attempting to quit may result in a diminished ability to manage impulses due to the grip of addiction. Addiction exerts a profound and lasting influence on the brain, which manifests in three primary ways:

  1. An intense longing for the addictive substance.
  2. A loss of control over its consumption.
  3. Continued engagement with the substance despite the problems it causes.

In cases of drug and alcohol addiction, substances hijack the brain’s reward system, potentially leading to physical dependence. For some individuals, ceasing or reducing substance use can trigger unpleasant and, at times, hazardous physical withdrawal symptoms. These changes weaken their ability to control impulses, regardless of the negative repercussions.

Substance misuse can result in severe physical, emotional, and social difficulties. For instance, persistent drug or alcohol use can lead to unemployment, fractured relationships, and other personal failures. Consequently, these issues often contribute to increased stress and anxiety.

Addiction is not indicative of fragility, a personal defect, or a moral shortcoming. It is a prevalent affliction that impacts countless individuals spanning various age groups, backgrounds, and socioeconomic statuses. Although substance abuse lacks a singular cause, there is optimism in the fact that it can be effectively addressed through addiction treatment in many drug rehab programs and even alcohol rehabs.

It is conceivable that individuals from all age groups, diverse backgrounds, and various socioeconomic statuses can develop addictions to alcohol or drugs. While certain groups may be more susceptible than others, numerous factors contribute to the initiation of addiction.

One such factor is genetics. Research indicates that genes play a role in the likelihood of developing both a substance use disorder and a mental illness. Environmental factors, such as stress or trauma, can induce genetic alterations. Additionally, certain genes can be inherited within families. These alterations may contribute to the development of a substance use disorder or other mental illnesses.

Furthermore, mental illness has been found to increase the risk of addiction disorders. For example, individuals grappling with mental illness may turn to drugs as a means of seeking relief. Although this may provide temporary respite, the use of drugs and alcohol often leads to severe and enduring consequences. Continued drug use prompts the brain to intensify the pleasurable effects, potentially resulting in the emergence of additional addictions.

Individuals who contend with anxiety or mood disorders, such as depression or bipolar disorder, are twice as likely to engage in substance abuse. Similarly, those with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), antisocial personality disorder and conduct disorder, psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are also more prone to misusing substances.

Financial difficulties, a tumultuous end to a romantic relationship, or the unfortunate demise of a cherished companion or kin are among the circumstances that may compel an individual to seek solace or respite through the consumption of drugs or alcohol. Furthermore, individuals subjected to elevated levels of stress, such as those in professions like emergency responders or military personnel, are particularly vulnerable to developing addictive tendencies.

Extensive research has revealed that a staggering 60-80% of individuals afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) also grapple with substance abuse problems. Those afflicted with PTSD may resort to substance abuse as a means to cope with the overwhelming stress or to alleviate symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and irritability.

Individuals with substance use disorders may experience both physical and psychological dependence on the substance. While some of these symptoms may manifest immediately, depending on the substance, others may gradually appear over time. It is important to note that not all of these symptoms will present themselves when someone is struggling with addiction. However, any of these signs may indicate consistent substance use.

  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Fluctuations in weight
  • Extreme lethargy or hyperactivity
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Changes in eyes and skin
  • Tremors or seizures
  • Poor physical coordination
  • Changes in personality
  • Loss of interest in activities and hobbies
  • Becoming increasingly withdrawn and secretive
  • Depression, and suicidal thoughts

If a friend or loved one exhibits any of these signs, it could be an indication that they are struggling and require assistance. Other signs may include being drunk most of the time, actively seeking out drugs, taking drugs for fun, engaging in actions that result in frequent legal issues, poor work performance, financial troubles, and neglecting responsibilities.

If you or someone you know displays these signs and symptoms of drug and alcohol abuse, it may be indicative of a substance use disorder and require the assistance of a doctor or counselor.

Common Addictions Abused in California

Approximately 8% of individuals residing in California fulfill the requirements for having a substance use disorder, yet merely 10% obtain any form of treatment. Recent findings from the California Health Care Foundation reveal that the majority of Californians with a substance use disorder fall within the age range of 18 to 25, which is nearly twice the national average rate.

Based on data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), it has been found that 6.4% of individuals in California are affected by alcohol use disorder. Additionally, 3.3% of Californians struggle with substance use disorder related to illicit drugs, while 0.6% have developed an addiction to prescription pain medication.

The various substances that are commonly abused in California include:

  • Alcohol
  • Prescription drugs (Opioids)
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Cocaine
  • Meth
  • Heroin

If you or a loved one is grappling with alcohol abuse, California offers an extensive range of alcohol rehabilitation facilities to assist in establishing a solid groundwork for enduring recovery.

Our Santa Barbara rehab offers levels of care for drug and alcohol abuse such as medication-assisted treatment (MAT), inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, dual diagnosis treatment, etc.


Alcohol is the most extensively misused addictive substance in the United States, with a prevalence of 1 in 12 adults being dependent on or abusing alcohol. Due to its affordability and legal status for individuals over the age of 21, alcohol consumption is generally not regarded as problematic. In numerous contexts, it is socially acceptable and may even be actively promoted. However, engaging in binge drinking can establish detrimental drinking patterns that may ultimately result in alcohol dependence or the development of a severe alcohol use disorder.

The prevailing opioid crisis can be attributed to the excessive prescription practices of opioid painkillers by medical practitioners and pharmacists. Despite California’s comparatively lower rates of opioid prescriptions in other states, the issue of opioid abuse remains a significant concern within the state.

Based on the statistical information provided by NIDA’s state-specific opioid summaries, it is evident that California exhibits the most favorable figures in terms of drug overdose mortality rates nationwide, with a mere 6.2 deaths per 100,000 attributed to fatal overdoses. Nevertheless, it is imperative to acknowledge that opioids are not the sole prescription painkillers possessing a significant propensity for abuse and addiction.

Benzodiazepine addiction necessitates a treatment plan of medical detoxification followed by benzodiazepine rehabilitation. Fortunately, there are numerous addiction treatment centers and facilities available in California to assist individuals in their recovery journey, offering both inpatient and outpatient treatment options.

Benzos is commonly prescribed to alleviate symptoms associated with anxiety disorders. Occasionally, this category of medication is utilized to address insomnia, and less frequently, to manage seizures. Moreover, benzodiazepines are frequently employed to alleviate the distressing symptoms of severe alcohol withdrawal.

This particular class of medication acts as a central nervous system depressant, inducing a tranquilizing and soothing effect. The pleasurable sensation experienced is one of the primary reasons for the addictive nature of benzodiazepines, which are typically prescribed for short-term use only.

Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant that is derived from the coca plant native to South America. It is available in two forms: powder or rock (commonly known as crack cocaine or freebase). This drug can be consumed through various methods such as snorting, smoking, or injecting. Regardless of the chosen method, the effects of cocaine are rapid and potent. In the United States, cocaine is categorized as a Schedule II drug.

This classification indicates that while it does have limited medical applications, it is primarily an illegal substance with a high potential for both dependency and abuse. Although there has been a gradual decline in cocaine abuse in California in recent years, the drug continues to be linked to elevated crime rates and overall societal expenses.

The ongoing opioid epidemic continues to be a prominent topic in the media; however, it is crucial to acknowledge that the abuse of other substances poses a significant and immediate threat in California, with methamphetamine being the most prevalent. The year 2019 witnessed a notable increase in both methamphetamine usage and overdoses throughout the state.

In certain regions, such as the Bay Area, methamphetamine has surpassed opioids as the leading cause of death due to overdose. Given the lengthy and arduous nature of methamphetamine withdrawal, it is highly recommended to pursue treatment at a specialized methamphetamine rehabilitation center.

According to statistical data, heroin ranks as the fourth most commonly abused drug in the state of California. This translates to a significant proportion of the population, specifically 0.4% of Californians, who are grappling with heroin use disorder and would benefit from seeking treatment at a specialized heroin treatment center.

As an opioid, heroin is often resorted to by individuals who are unable to obtain prescription opioids for pain management. Recent research has indicated that the demographic group most affected by the surge in heroin use is white Americans. Furthermore, individuals between the ages of 18-29 and 30-44 are more likely to engage in heroin use than their senior counterparts.

The issue of heroin abuse is further compounded by the fact that it is increasingly being laced with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid. Unless this problem is addressed, it is likely to exacerbate in the future.

Drug and Alcohol Rehab in Santa Barbara, CA

Santa Barbara Recovery is a premier drug and alcohol treatment center offering a variety of individualized treatment options for our clients, including partial hospitalization (PHP), intensive outpatient treatment (IOP), outpatient (OP), and we coordinate with 3rd Party Local Sober Living Environments (SLE’s) as an aftercare option for individuals in early recovery. Each phase within our inpatient treatment center is designed to help the client learn valuable skills to overcome addiction.

Our sober living program is centered around our intensive outpatient program, which utilizes evidence-based treatment, individualized care from professionals who understand addiction, and group therapy that supports recovery. We also offer partial hospitalization for individuals in need of more structure and support. Outside local long-term treatment providers, sober living options provide a safe and supportive environment as individuals continue to grow and refine their recovered lives.

Mental Health Treatment

Experts have known for decades that nearly 50% of individuals with substance use disorders also suffer from a mental illness. What’s less well understood is the relationship between the two conditions, especially which comes first. However, addiction rarely acts alone. 

It is often accompanied by stress, anxiety, trauma, and depression, which can further complicate one’s mental health. Numerous studies have demonstrated a strong correlation between substance use disorders and other mental illnesses. 

Many individuals who struggle with addiction also experience symptoms or have been diagnosed with other mental health disorders. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as a dual diagnosis. Dual diagnosis treatment addresses both conditions at the same time. Addiction can change the way that people think, feel, and act, while mental illness is often overlooked when treating people with drug or alcohol use disorders. Co-occurring disorders should not be left untreated and evaluated.

The connection between addiction and mental health is a two-way street. In some cases, a mental health issue can lead to substance abuse. In others, substance abuse can worsen underlying mental health conditions or even trigger them in individuals predisposed to certain disorders. To complicate matters further, drug use or abuse can cause symptoms that mimic those of other mental health problems making it even more difficult to pinpoint the cause. 

The following mental health conditions frequently co-occur with addiction:

Understanding the connection between mental health and addiction is an important element of recovery here at Santa Barbara Recovery. Our aftercare program and licensed therapists help you explore mood disorders and addictive behavior, understand how they are entwined, and take steps toward healing.

How Addiction Is Diagnosed and Treated

The diagnosis and treatment of addiction can be accomplished formally and effectively. Both pharmacological interventions and therapeutic approaches have demonstrated significant success in addressing substance use disorders. Treatment not only aids in the management of addictive behaviors but also plays a crucial role in reducing the likelihood of relapse in the future.

Furthermore, it is important to note that seeking treatment at any stage is highly encouraged, as personalized care plans are tailored to meet the specific needs of each individual. It is recognized that no two patients are identical, and as such, treatment plans at our rehab centers in California are customized accordingly.

addiction and mental health disorder
Men in substance abuse and mental health treatment in Santa Barbara California.

To ascertain the presence of addiction, a licensed practitioner will inquire about the nature of your substance usage and assess its impact on your life. They may also inquire about other factors, such as your personal and familial history, as well as identify any concurrent mental health issues. The utmost importance lies in honesty and the involvement of family members during this treatment process, as it is crucial for obtaining an accurate diagnosis.

Treatment for addiction and mental health disorders may encompass a combination of medications, family therapy, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), exposure and response prevention therapy, and group therapy approaches. Before embarking on any treatment journey, it is imperative to reach out to your healthcare providers for assistance that is most suitable for your condition or that of a loved one.

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We work with all major Out-of-Network Insurance Providers, Private Pay and Scholarship Opportunites

Drug and alcohol rehab should be accessible to everyone. At Santa Barbara Recovery, we work with most insurance plans to cover the costs of treatment.


Our Santa Barbara Rehab Center Can Help You Recover

Several safe, effective, and inexpensive treatments are available for addiction. Treatments vary depending on the type of substance use disorder. Effective medications are available for alcohol abuse, opioid use disorder, and nicotine use disorder. Often, psychosocial treatments are combined with medication. Treatment can be beneficial at any point in an addiction and can be tailored to a person’s needs.

At Santa Barbara Recovery in Southern California, our caring medical professionals and a home-like environment help make your experience comfortable and safe. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction or mental illness, we’re here to help.

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