The Link Between Substance Abuse And Mental Health  


The challenges associated with both substance abuse and those of various mental health disorders are numerous. Both can be experienced separately and, yet, it is so often the case that they occur simultaneously, creating a co-occurring disorder. Since individual ailments associated with mental health disorders impact routine and responsibilities, especially those of professional lives and personal relationships, a degree of escape can be sought in substances like alcohol and drugs, which may offer temporary relief but then, in turn, tend to exacerbate the likelihood of disorders.

The same occurs in reverse, with the effects of substance abuse promoting stress, unhappiness, and, ultimately, mental ill-health. Research suggests that around half of those affected with substance abuse will also experience mental health issues. It is therefore not only possible but likely that those experiencing disorders like anxiety or depression will also encounter substance abuse and even addiction, multiplying symptoms and increasing their intensity.

Co-occurring disorders can also arise from conflicts of medication. There are, for example, a number of anti-depressants that are affected by alcohol and other recreational drugs, reducing or inhibiting the effectiveness of medication and, as a result, worsening mental health. The return of symptoms in such a scenario, such as mood instability and anxiety may then lead to greater substance abuse.

Crossover of symptoms occurs often and is one of the most prominent issues with co-occurring disorders, making it especially difficult to quickly and accurately diagnose a patient. It becomes a challenge for individuals to identify their own symptoms, discerning between depression and withdrawal, as well as the cause of such issues, leading to a potential oversight of risk or wrongful self-diagnosis.

When individuals then seek help, such as mental health support in London and addiction counselling in Bristol, their assessors may find it difficult to ascertain a diagnosis or identify potential risk before it becomes more deeply problematic. In both cases, of mental health disorder and addiction, if the appropriate treatment is not made, issues worsen and may even spiral out of control.

Another such issue is that of self-medication. This endeavour is wrought with potential pitfalls but often seems to be one of the few options open to individuals, especially when they are unable to seek help or feel that help is unavailable. In such cases, there can be a deep sense of isolation, loneliness, or even paranoia, all of which encourages self-medication. Typically in cases of self-medication symptoms, especially those of undiagnosed origin, develop and are further exacerbated.

It is crucial that both mental health disorders and substance abuse issues are identified early. Both can be difficult to recognise. Mental health issues may develop slowly and manifest as abstract ailments, such as low mood and high stress, those that might occasionally be written off as a ‘bad day’. Substance abuse is particularly difficult to spot and doesn’t necessarily associate with any single substance. Instead, it is more clearly defined as when the use of a substance begins to affect one’s life, potentially interfering or disrupting routine, relationships, and work.

If you have any concerns about either mental health or substance abuse, in either yourself or others, it is important that you seek professional and certified support.

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