Mental Health and Addiction: What’s the Relationship?

There’s a strong tie between mental health and addiction. Read on to understand the relationship between mental health and addiction.

It’s not always clear if someone is suffering from mental illness or is dealing with the symptoms of substance abuse. Also, mental illness and drug abuse often go hand in hand.

The National Bureau of Economic Research reports that those with a diagnosed mental health disorder are responsible for 69% of all alcohol use, 84% of cocaine and 68% of cigarettes.

But does a mental disorder make someone more likely to abuse substances or is it the other way around? Read on to learn more about the connection between mental health and addiction. 

Which One Comes First?

Issues with mental health and addictions go hand in hand. But it’s not always easy to determine which one led to the other.

It’s kind of like the chicken and the egg debate. Individuals struggling with drug and alcohol addiction commonly develop mental disorders. Likewise, those dealing with mental illnesses are more prone to abuse drugs.

Why is that?

Many people turn to alcohol and drugs to self-medicate. They turn to these substances to deal with the symptoms of an undiagnosed mental illness or to cope with the difficulties of life. Sadly, over the long term, drugs and alcohol can make the symptoms worse.

In fact, alcohol and drug abuse can even lead to the onset of new mental health symptoms. Also, drugs and alcohol reduce the effectiveness of antidepressants and other medication.

Mental disorders are complex and layered. There is a connection between external factors, a person’s genetics as well as their environment.

Some people have higher risks of mental disorders. Adding drugs or alcohol to the equation can be the factor that triggers the onset of mental illness.

But there is hope. Therapy for addiction gives addicts their best chance at a sober life. 

What Mental Disorders are Connected to Substance Abuse?

There are several mental disorders that are more commonly associated with substance abuse.

These include depression and anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. 

Symptoms of One Disorder Trigger the Other

As we mentioned earlier, drug abuse can ignite mental health disorders like paranoia, anxiety and depression and delusions when someone is under the influence.

However, sometimes these mental health symptoms last even after the effects of the drug have worn off. Generally, this means that the person is dealing with a co-occurring mental health disorder as well as substance abuse.

People who abuse drugs or alcohol have a higher risk of being victims of assault and rape. A traumatic event like that can lead to serious mental conditions like eating disorders, PTSD and depression. 

Sharing needles can lead to contracting a disease like HIV or hepatitis C. As a consequence, individuals can become depressed as a result. 

Final Thoughts on Mental Health and Addiction

As you can see, mental health and addiction are two complex topics. When they occur co-currently, the situation is even more complicated and can become increasingly serious.

If you or someone you love is suffering from mental health and addiction, don’t lose hope. With the right treatment, a different life is possible.

Come back soon for more articles on the topics you care about. 

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