5 Mental Health Problems That Often Occur With Substance Abuse

Substance abuse or Mental Health issues- which problem came first?

Substance abuse is one of the main contributing factors to the development of mental health problems, whose numbers have been slowly rising in numbers throughout the years, according to statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In fact, it was estimated in 2013 that 24.6 million Americans have abused substances. This number was an 8.3 percent increase from 2002. Reports also show that about half of individuals diagnosed with mental diseases have wrongly used prescribed and illegal substances.

The most commonly abused substance is alcohol. Following pursuit in the list of abused substances are drugs meant to treat mental conditions and illegal drugs. Every substance has one thing in common: to soothe and diminish the effects from the source of disturbance, which can pose a major issue if not used correctly.

It should also be known that mental diseases, in comparison to mental health problems aren’t necessarily caused by substance abuse. Instead, majority of the population with mental diseases take advantage of medical and drug-related substances because of the conditions they already possess, such as Clozaril to stabilize the moods affected by bipolar disorder, for example.

Below are five mental health problems that commonly occur with substance abuse.

  1. Addiction and unnecessary reliance on the drugs prescribed or taken

Addiction demonstrates itself in multiple forms: acting as a numbing outlet that makes traumatic and emotional pain easier to cope with, the psychological “reward” for the brain that makes everything incomparable to the “euphoria” a particular substance harnesses, and providing phenomenal relief from distress. Substance abusers initially undergo addiction, which is the catalyst to future concerning behaviors, such as drug-induced violence and the morally compromising willingness to do absolutely anything to attain the aforementioned drug, endangering the well-being of the individual taking substances and the people who coexist around them.

  1. Depression and the effects of the mental illness itself

A traumatic circumstance in life, chemical imbalance in the brain, or genetic predisposition ultimately contributes to the development of depression within an individual. However, with the illicit use of drugs, brain chemistry can alter and undergo the same effects of depression – diminishing the levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine: natural “happy” chemicals that contribute to the overall “good” mood a person experiences, and promotes the motivation and incentive to seek pleasurable situations and means of release. Depression combined with substance abuse can also reach different tiers depending on the drugs being taken, such as: suffering constant and intense emotional outbursts, enduring a physical strain of having to properly function each day, or even fostering severe forms of depression like psychotic depression or bipolar depression. Substance abuse heightens these specific symptoms, devastating a person’s ability to live a normal and healthy life.

  1. General medicinal abuse

Xanax abuse, for example, has been common in the community of individuals diagnosed with anxiety disorder. It is has been researched to be notably addictive through long-term use, and is only prescribed as a short-term medication. In contrast from Xanax, additional medications for other mental illnesses are as equally abused and psychologically addictive with continuous dosage, like nicotine and barbiturates.

Withdrawal from a drug can also cause an individual to relapse back into an even stronger addiction and abusive behavior. Withdrawal sends a person into a fever-like state, making the transition from the drug addiction into a slow, painful process of purging the body from the material.

  1. Psychosis and the detachment from external reality

Out of all the mental health problems, psychosis can be the one of the most dangerous and hazardous conditions for an individual abusing substances. Detaching from reality could cause a person to place themselves in fatal situations. Psychosis is equivalent to lucid dreaming: transporting to a surreal situation and acting as one pleases. However, the suffering, injury and even death – is real with psychosis, which would have long-standing consequences in the future if something destructive were to happen to the individual.

  1. Triggering a predisposed mental illness

Again, substance abuse is not a root cause of mental illness, but unfortunately can be a catalyst for pre-existing conditions that are triggered by the drugs being used. Schizophrenia, for example, is a mental disorder that can become a life-long disposition caused by the neurological damage of substance abuse. Hallucinations and the breakdown between reality and imagination would become a permanent predicament. Conclusively, a person may have had a dormant illness that only came to inception because of a substance.


Trevor is a freelance writer and recovering addict & alcoholic who has been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources and addiction awareness. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.

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  • Wow, way to throw cannabis users under the bus with that top photo. Some of us use marijuana to treat chronic pain because we cannot take pharmaceuticals or other treatments are ineffective or have worse side effects. I highly doubt me continuing to suffer with crippling bodily pain and disability is going to be beneficial for my mental illnesses either. My health will never be optimal either way, but the mental issues can be addressed with other kinds of therapy. The way my body is, however, cannot. Just because someone was using cannabis around the time when they had a psychotic episode does not mean it was caused by cannabis. Correlation=/=causation, especially when other conditions like PTSD can cause people to detach from reality.

    That is not to say you should have used some other kind of drug in the photo. Seeing needles, for example, can trigger people recovering from heroin addiction. Honestly, does this article even need a photo.

  • To be honest ballard weed is what has held me back my whole life i started smoking at 14 and havent stopped since and im 27 i have horrible depression and low self esteem and no motivation and i never should have ever started smoking it is as bad to me as crack i spend all my money on it and i use it as a way out it isnt the weed but what it does to your drive as a person it can alter u and u would not realize it because u say its helping out with the pain but what it is doing is just masking it from the real problem which is growing up and dealing with reality

  • Smoking weed before the hippocampus had a chance to fully develop can harmful. Most studies have shown that children who smoke weed are susceptible to brain damage.

    Now, being a 420 supporter, and speaking from experience, life circumstances will always prevent the cannabis user from reaching their goals and living a healthy life style. You really must prepare yourself for prescribed medical usage, and not to just smoke any old stain of weed at music festival or something.

    From experience, I have witnessed informed mediinal cannabis users, usually around the age of 21 to 25, begin to consider regular usage, and be carefully treated for depression and anxiety. The absence of alcohol, entirely, along with the absence of other illicit substances (coke, meth, heroin, etc.)

    Oh and about withdrawal symptoms…

    If someone took Lymichthal from you, a prescribed medication for depression, and prevented you from using it regularly, you would be thrown into the same ‘substance abuse’ induced fits of rage that the article preceding this open forum suggests. Same exact thing….

    Double standard anyone?

    Point being… Cannibus can be MISUSED…. ABSOLUTELY.

    But those who are informed about the benefits of Cannabis, will reap the benefits of Cannabis usage. And if you’re not benefiting from Cannabis usage, either STOP, like an informed adult who has control over themselves, OR give it up ENTIRELY, like a responsible person…

  • But speaking to the act of depression, anxiety, and suicide, I understand the pain. I understood the pain when I was a child having suicidal thoughts, with one attempt, is beyond any normal emotional pain.

    I will say outright, that turning to illicit drugs, with perhaps the exception of cannibus (acknowledging that sativa strands can aggravate symptoms of Manic Depression as it functions as a stimulant), will probably interrupt the progress of someone in recovery or in an emergency mental health crisis.

    I personally have weaned of cannibus for now until my mental health corrects itself. With therapy, and other prescribed medications…

    Yes, they make the liver and kidneys work harder. Don’t let these “mental health” professionals convince you that they don’t.

    But… What is worse? Living for another 25 years, and then your liver gives out, or you jump off of a bridge tonight?

    All I know is, as someone who suffers from BI Polar disorder, I can tell you that I have always felt the way that I do now, as far as the anxiety and the depression, since childhood.

    The suicidal thoughts are fleeting though!!

    Do not let them take you out!!

    After a while they will feel like you are standing bracing yourself against a strong rip current…. No pun intended on the RIP there.

    Also, if you have never had a sardonic sense of humor, you might want to get one. Suicidal ideation brings you face to face with death in a rather frightening and dark manner… BUT if you can manage a sense of humor as a coping mechanism, then you have struck gold…

    I know it’s hard. IT’S REALLY HARD!!!


    Exercise, friends, family, dogs, cats, the ocean, your favorite baseball team, whether they suck or not, is enough reason to choose life….

    That is the secret. Substance through personal relationships…

    And if you don’t have personal relationships, then it is your life’s mission to find some….

    Best of luck. I’ll say a prayer for you….

    There isn’t any substitute for YOU, and there is no coming back from a successful suicide attempt.

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