The society we belong to has greatly stigmatized mental illness. But a person should not feel ashamed of suffering from these illnesses because just like bodily diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases or diabetes, these mental disorders are beyond the control of the patient.
You can define mental illness as the failure to control thoughts, behaviors, feelings, and moods. On the other hand, substance abuse is also known as drug abuse in which the person indulges in excessive use of chemical substances that may result in severe health issues, and lack of control over the consumption of those substances because of addiction, causing dependency.
What’s more, their excessive intake can cause bodily problems such as liver and kidney damage, as well as severe mental illnesses.
There are a number of researches that show a strong relationship between mental illnesses and substance abuse. Some mental illnesses are caused because of substance abuse, while substance abuse results in mental illnesses as well. Let’s discuss both of these perspectives below.
Substance Abuse Causing Mental Illnesses
Development of mental illnesses is common among individuals who struggle with addiction, and are indulged in the practices of substance abuse. A lot of times, the intake of a few drugs for a long period of time can lead to psychological disorders. This is because these drugs tend to have a strong impact on the brain, and chemicals inside the brain. Therefore, chronic use of these drugs can lead to psychological problems such as anxiety and depression because of the changes inside the brain.
Long-term drug abuse has the potential to cause mental illness in people who are already at the risk of developing the disorder. These risks could be because of their environment, past history, or genetic makeup. The substance abuse then just acts as the final push. Development of depression is also quite common because of addiction as the process in the brain is altered, and people tend to seek reward and pleasure with greater drug consumption, as the body has built an immune tolerance against small drug dosages.
Other disorders, such as anxiety, are common among adults who have gone through heavy drug abuse in their teenage years. This is because the brain is still in the development stage at that point in time, and these drugs tend to modify the social and cognitive development of those young people.
Mental Illnesses Resulting in Substance Abuse
Mental illnesses lead to substance abuse when people start self-medication in order to treat their anxieties and depression. For these people, substance abuse is a temporary release, and a way out from a stressful situation. Instead of addressing and talking about the issue, people tend to indulge in drug and substance abuse to numb the pain they are feeling, and forget all their problems.
This destructive coping strategy of denial increases the problem, and leads to dual diagnosis, substance abuse and mental illness. People taking schizophrenia medication tend to suffer from the side effect of hallucinations that results in depression. To handle that depression, they are predisposed to fall in the pattern of substance abuse.
It is often difficult to tell which problem was caused first. If substance abuse and mental illness coexists, then their treatment should take place simultaneously for prolific results.