Substance abuse and mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety are closely linked,
While substance abuse can often cause prolonged mental health issues, one does not directly cause the other. However, alcohol and drugs are often used to self-medicate the symptoms of mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, hallucinations and psychosomatic pain. People often use alcohol or drugs to deal with difficult emotions or to temporarily change their mood, it’s the same principle but as a habit, as a lifeline or as a reliance.
Substance abuse can also exacerbate a persons underlying risk of developing a mental health disorder.
There is some evidence, for example, that certain abusers of marijuana have an increased risk of psychosis while those who abuse opioid painkillers are at greater risk for depression. In other cases, substances can create mental health symptoms like paranoia, delusions or depression while the person is under the influence of the drug. When these symptoms last after the drugs wear off, then it can indicate a co-occurring mental health disorder.
Drug and alcohol abuse can also make any mental health disorders symptoms severely worsen. Substance abuse can trigger new symptoms, interact with medication such as anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds lessening their effectiveness.
It is difficult to diagnose dual mental health disorders and addiction disorders.
It can take a fair amount of time to work out what is a mental health issue and what is an addictive behaviour, the overlapping of signs and symptoms of the co-existing issues can take time to unravel and to work out which is a cause and which is an effect. After all, addiction is considered a chronic mental disease in its own right, where there is a malfunction in the brain memory, motivation and reward system. So it can be hard to say whether the addiction is caused by the mental health issue or if the mental health issue is caused by the addiction. Whatever the case, both mental health disorders and addiction disorders are treatable, manageable and beatable. There is always hope in these situations and there is always help waiting to be freely given.
If you feel that you need expert help and advice, please do get in touch with The Recovery Lodge team here.