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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.