The National Bureau of Economic Research states there is a clear link between mental illness and substance abuse, with individuals who have a current mental illness consuming roughly 38% of all alcohol, 44% of all cocaine, and 40% of all cigarettes. Many mental illnesses involve symptoms that cause much distress, such as anxiety, depression, irritability, aggression, and more. In an attempt to mask these unwanted symptoms or to suppress them, many people will self-medicate with substances such as alcohol or illicit drugs. Although the substances may seem to ameliorate the issue for a brief period, the symptoms of mental illness always reoccur -oftentimes even stronger than they were before – unless a person is properly treated.
The Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) states that 50% of people with a mental illness also have a problem with substance abuse. Unfortunately, there are several ways in which substances can worsen symptoms of mental illness. For example, some drugs, after chronic use for several years, can cause a person to develop a mental illness. Drugs such as ecstasy can chemically alter the brain after an extended period of time, controlling mood and other behaviors. The alterations in the brain can further lead to anxiety or depression problems, which then becomes a mental disorder once it’s gotten out of hand.
In other instances, medications often taken by those with mental illness produce other side effects which can spiral into another mental disorder, such as with depression or anxiety. Substances such as alcohol and other drugs can impact a person’s development of mental illness if they are already very susceptible to developing one; previous research has shown that genetics, environmental factors and more can place someone at a higher risk. For example, a 2017 study published by the Columbia University Medical Center found that individuals who have a family history of psychosis or experience symptoms of psychosis already (such as unusual thoughts, suspiciousness, and perceptual disturbances) are more likely than others to develop a psychotic disorder from chronic use of marijuana.
If substance abuse continues and a mental disorder develops, a person then experiences a dual diagnosis, or comorbidity disorder. If you’ve been struggling with substance abuse, addiction, and/or signs of a mental illness, reach out to a reputable treatment center today.
Therapy is a primary component of treatment for rehabilitation from a substance use disorder and/or mental health disorder. Attending treatment with certified clinicians and counselors is critical for a full recovery. At one of New Vista Behavioral Health’s treatment providers, you are receiving exceptional care, held to a higher standard. Our programs result in better outcomes, ensuring a better recovery. For information call us today: 888-316-3665.