Connections between Mental Health and Substance Abuse

Problems like substance abuse and abrasive mental instabilities often tend to go hand in hand. In medical terms it is called co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis. One problem leads to the other and often augments the other. The connections between these two are undeniably harsh and difficult to handle. It is possible for one to be the cause of the other but that need not always be the case.


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SOURCE: piperreport

There can be many ways in which substance abuse and mental health are related:

  • Drugs and alcohol can act as a form of relief or self-medication for patients with a disturbed mental makeup or personal life. Even untreated or incompletely treated mental conditions like anxiety or depression can be the cause behind intake of drugs or alcohol. These problems may appear to be less severe and may induce momentary relief. This encourages dependence.
  • Substance abuse worsens any apparent or underlying mental conditions. Cute intoxication and withdrawal take a toll on both mental and physical health. Inducing the will to keep oneself away from drugs can take a lot of strength and courage out of a person, which leads to lack of focus, confused state of mind and delirium.
  • Continued and excessive substance abuse can be the cause behind mental health problems. Someone who has depended on drugs or alcohol to maintain his or her calm for years on end might not be able to survive without it, thus inducing sever hallucinations, and tendency to indulge in criminal activities.


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SOURCE: psychcentral

Substance abuse can often drive a person to use desperate measures to retain some balance in their lives, which they only see in the form of suicide. Drug abuse often leads to an increased feeling of unfulfillment which patients resolve through increased torture on themselves which ends in tragic death or suicide.

Often similar factors lead to problems of substance abuse and mental imbalances like genetic disturbances or problems related to temperament, social or environmental. Family history needs to be closely examined to fully understand the deep rooted connection between these problems.

People suffering from both substance abuse and mental health concerns need to find the right balance to cure them of it. They must be actively involved in the decision making process of their own health, thus making them feel powerful and in control, something that has been lacking from their lives.


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Group support is considered extremely helpful in these cases as it helps create a trust circle where any and all concerns can be voiced without the risk of being wrongly judged. Involving the family or friends in the therapy is very crucial as people with mental problems are often reluctant to or unable to take charge of situations or look after themselves as well, so their families are contacted to help them and be part of the therapeutic sessions.

Patience and knowledge are the key factors that will help someone overcome the effects of substance abuse on their mental health and vice versa. Recovering from dual diagnosis does not happen overnight, it is a gradual process that can take months and years to happen and requires constant engagement and loads of patience.


Michelle Amerman
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