The Link Between Substance Abuse And Mental Health

Experts all agree that there is a definite and verifiable link between mental health issues and those who are also dealing with substance issues. When someone is hooked on drugs or alcohol or even both and they also suffer from such things as depression, bipolar disorder, or severe anxiety, it is clinically known as dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder. For someone to have to deal with the pitfalls of substance abuse can be hard enough even in the best of circumstances, but when mixed with the struggles that come with mental health issues, the road to recovery can seem that much bleaker. There are still proven ways to beat these demons, however, especially when that help comes from certified recovery experts, such as those at 12 Keys Rehab.

In those suffering from a co-occurring disorder, the two different maladies each have their own set of symptoms. These symptoms may hinder the ability of the individual to go to work or school or to even socialize with friends and family. Unfortunately, even though the disorders are separate, they also go hand in hand. For instance, the longer mental health issues such as depression go unchecked, the worse the substance abuse issues generally become. As the drug and/or alcohol intake increases, the worse it makes the depression. It is a vicious circle which can be quite difficult to beat on one’s own. This is why experts recommend professional help so that the individual may get their life back on track.

According to peer-reviewed reports from professional journals, almost half of all people who have been diagnosed with some form of mental health issue also suffer from substance abuse issues, it actually breaks down to just over half of all drug abusers and just under 40 percent of alcohol abusers have some form of mental disorder.

Friends and family of those afflicted often wonder which came first, the mental health issues or the substance abuse. Here are some things for them to keep in mind. Many people who suffer from mental health disorders often use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate. They do not know where or who to turn to and feel that numbing themselves with chemicals is the best or easiest way to deal with their problems. This is actually the furthest thing from the truth. It is also known that people who may be genetically predisposed to mental health disorders may be pushed over the edge due to their use of drugs and/or alcohol. Finally, using and abusing drugs and alcohol can very often worsen the symptoms of the particular mental health malady the person is suffering from. Alcohol and drugs also generally have negative effects on medications such as antipsychotics or anti-depressants, thus making them far less effective than they are intended to be.

How does someone know they are dealing with issues of Mental Health and Substance Abuse? They can start by themselves the following questions:

  1. Are drugs or alcohol being used to deal with negative emotions, to focus on the tasks at hand, or to deal with social situations that they may think are unpleasant or uncomfortable?
  2. Can a relationship be found between using substances and the state of mental health which one is going through? For example, does the person get depressed after a few drinks of alcohol?
  3. Is there a history of mental illness or substance abuse in the family?
  4. Is there trauma in the person’s past which has not yet been resolved?

Answering yes to all or even any of these questions is an indicator that there may be significant problems in the person’s life that they are trying to cope with in an unhealthy way.

One of the best ways to cope with the issues and their underlying causes is to enter into a rehab program which also includes mental health counseling services. While it may be difficult to admit that there is a problem, the end result of going to both rehab and counseling is a life which is not marred by depressing thoughts or the urge to abuse the body with harmful chemicals or actions. It is never a good idea to give up in one’s own life.