The Link Between Mental Health and Addiction – by Graham Peasey from Step 1 Recovery

Unfortunately, the rise of both mental health issues and behavioural habits, such as addiction are increasing. For some individuals, that may mean living with post-traumatic stress disorder. For others, a life of substance abuse may be led. And in some cases, a mixture of both may be a reality.

However, there is a definite link between mental health and addiction, causing great concern for those experiencing either. In reality, both mental health disorders and addiction are psychological illnesses, commonly known to fuel one another. With this in mind, it’s important for individuals experiencing either to understand the link and risk factors of each.

What are the effects of drug and alcohol addiction?

Drugs and alcohol are commonly used by individuals to self-medicate, cope or work through mental illnesses. However, through long-term, consistent use, the development of an addiction is likely. In most cases, this happens unintentionally, where individuals hold little knowledge of the impacts substance abuse disorders can have on their life; including both physical and mental health problems. 

However, through this naivety, abusing both drugs and alcohol can quickly advance into an addiction, worsening mental health issues. The detrimental impacts can vary depending on the substances used. Yet, more than likely, negative impacts will enter an individual’s life, increasing the dangerous link between mental health and addiction.

Common signs that substance abuse may have developed into an addiction

  • The inability to stop consuming either drugs or alcohol
  • The consistent use of drugs and alcohol to block out withdrawal symptoms
  • Unbearable side effects, causing physical and mental health disorders
  • Loss of motivation, inspiration or interest in life
  • Break down of relationships and career plans
  • The experience of drug and alcohol-induced psychosis.

If you’re experiencing any of these signs, it’s important to consider the impacts an addiction will have on your mental health state; commonly known to worsen side effects and live with the increased risk of further health impairments.

What are the effects of a mental health issue?

Over the years, I have learnt that mental health disorders differ significantly. From post-traumatic stress disorder and eating disorders to bipolar disorder and anxiety, there is a wide range of mental health illnesses experienced. However, the common denominator is the deep psychology behind those illnesses.

Episodes of mental health deterioration are usually influenced by an underlying trigger. Those triggers can be down to a single stressful experience, or years of neglect, abuse or distress. However, there is also a great link between addiction and mental illness.

A common side effect of consistent drug and alcohol abuse is the development of mental health issues. With many lows experienced, falling into a depressive state, known to further influence mental health disorders is likely. This is where both substance abuse and mental health issues can fuel one another, influencing an occurring disorder.

If a vicious circle of both mental health issues and an addiction is experienced, both disorders can, unfortunately, trigger one another. Once those negative feelings are experienced, greater substance abuse will usually occur; individuals will usually believe that consuming drugs and alcohol will help. However, chronic substance abuse is commonly known to trigger psychosis. If psychosis is a long-term occurrence, developing a mental health issue is probable.

With this unfortunate link, living with either a drug and alcohol addiction or/and a mental health issue can be very difficult. In this situation, it’s important that professional support is sourced for a dual diagnosis.

The link between mental health and addiction

If either a moderate dependency or a psychological disorder is experienced, there’s a significant link between mental health and addiction. In this instance, it is likely that both behavioural illnesses will advance one another, reducing the quality of life substantially.

This is a challenging situation to live with, commonly requiring professional support. If you’re currently living with either addiction or mental health issue, it’s important to source support before this link can progress.

If you’re commonly abusing drugs, it’s also important to understand the side effects of each, and how they can impact your mental health. Here’s a break-down of commonly used drugs and their effects:

  • Cannabis:

    • Cannabis is commonly used by individuals to relax or influence a calming feeling. However, long-term abuse can increase psychosis, with the likelihood of triggering anxiety, depression and paranoia.
  • Alcohol:

    • Alcohol is used highly by individuals with mental health issues. As alcohol is branded as harmless, individuals believe that the substance will help them cope. When in fact, alcohol will advance behavioural habits, usually worsening both physical and mental health.
  • New psychoactive substances:

    • New to the market, drugs such as spice or black mamba are known to cause hallucinogenic and sedative effects. These are highly dangerous to an individual’s mind if used for the long-term.
  • Tranquilisers:

    • Tranquilisers, such as benzodiazepine are commonly prescribed to individuals with mental health illnesses, such as anxiety. However, consistent use can develop into an addiction, ultimately worsening those anxious feelings.
  • Cocaine and heroin:

    • Both of these illegal drugs commonly influence an individual’s mental health state. Once a withdrawal is experienced, consistent use is likely. However, this increases the link between mental health and addiction, causing a slippery slope.

The extent of damage caused by substance abuse will depend on the drugs used. However, it is more than likely that if a drug and alcohol addiction has developed, mental health issues will also advance.

Receiving help for a dual diagnosis

If you’re living with either addiction or mental health issue, seeking treatment and support is vital. Likewise, if you’re experiencing the link between mental health and addiction, dual diagnosis treatment will be required.

Here at Step 1 Recovery, we can help you through this difficult time by working through a number of leading treatments to rehabilitate both body and mind. This step is highly important to increase future recovery rates, along with reducing the damage of both substance abuse and mental health disorders.

Reach out for further information on the physical and psychological treatments available to suppress and diminish your addiction and mental health issues.

Author Bio

This article was written by Graham Peasey; a highly regarded therapist, counsellor and founder of Step 1 Recovery. Over the past decade, he has successfully helped thousands of people escape from the misery caused by addiction and mental illness. He shares his thoughts through his blog on his treatment centre’s website, attracting thousands of visitors on a monthly basis.

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