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What is Behavioral Health? Its Role in Addiction

Behavioral health’s role in addiction is so prominent that most treatment programs are constructed around it. For every ten people, seven are seeking care for reasons related to behavioral health. These can be anxiety, substance use disorder, or even diabetes management. Behavioral health is part of most comprehensive treatment plans because of this connection to so many chronic conditions. 

Understanding Behavioral Health

It is essentially the connection between our behaviors and the overall wellness of our bodies, mind, and spirits. Everything from eating habits, drinking, exercise, spirituality, and mental health is part of this concept. 

However, after the 1970s, behavioral health was almost entirely used to talk about behaviors that prevent illness. Then, it moved to behaviors that could help people manage the disease. Nowadays, it incorporates many aspects of mental health, becoming a wide-reaching term in many treatment programs. 

Behavioral Health vs. Mental Health

People think that behavioral health and mental health is the same concept. However, mental health is a portion of behavioral health. The latter term looks at how our behaviors impact our physical and mental health. So, a behavioral health professional might look at the behaviors that contribute to someone’s addiction. 

Mental health looks at biology, psychological state, and more. On the other hand, behavioral health focuses on habits and their overall physical and mental well-being. Some even believe the term behavioral health carries less stigma. For example, if someone struggles with addiction, a behavioral health professional may look at what behaviors contributed to that person’s struggle with substance abuse. 

Different Services

Thanks to the expansion of behavioral health, many treatment providers are using it to address various issues. It handles everything from depression, anxiety, diabetes management, weight loss, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and much more. 


Overall, psychiatrists can help with a wide range of challenges. They can write prescriptions to assist with the healing process if needed. So, usually, they treat substance use disorders, mental health problems, and other psychiatric conditions. 


They’re trained in the science of psychology and often work in clinical, counseling, or research settings. While psychologists cannot prescribe medication, they offer psychotherapy services to help heal conditions such as mental health problems and substance abuse.

Social Workers

Although social workers are usually holding administrative positions, there are many types of social workers. For example, there are mental health and substance abuse social workers that often participate in addiction treatment. Many social workers move to get a psychologist or counseling license to expand their services.

Licensed Professional Counselors

Very similar to psychologists in the way that their go-to method of treatment is psychotherapy. However, a licensed professional counselor cannot provide a formal diagnosis or prescribe medications. These professionals often focus on a specific area, such as family, marriage issues, or substance abuse. 

The Impact on Chronic Conditions

Unfortunately, behavioral health continues to be an afterthought. Nearly 60 percent of people who live with mental illness don’t receive treatment. Estimates say that between 15-30 percent of those with diabetes have depression. Comorbid depression affects up to 25% of people with cancer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over one-quarter of adults in the U.S. experience some type of behavioral health disorder in a given year. 

Some studies have estimated it can cost as much as three times more to treat physical health with underlying behavioral health issues than it does to treat the same physical health issues in a patient without a mental health disorder.

Finding Help

Even with the efforts made to destigmatize mental health and issues like substance abuse, there’s still an access gap that prevents people from seeking help. Most people with a mental health problem or a substance use disorder believe they don’t have sufficient health coverage to access care from a specialist. 

At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we incorporate various behavioral health approaches into our treatment programs. To offer a truly comprehensive treatment plan to our patients, we have to look at how their behaviors impact their addiction. Substance abuse is perhaps one of the most behavioral issues, at least at first. Thus, analyzing which behaviors led someone to start using drugs in the first place can help us get closer and closer to the root of their addiction.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please seek help. Contact our admissions office today if you have any questions about our treatment programs, financing options, insurance coverage, or more. Our only role is to help you receive the treatment you need to start your recovery journey.

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