Using recreational and illicit drugs such as nicotine, alcohol, meth, cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana can have short-term and lasting effects to your body. This becomes a glaring problem especially if it changes the way you behave. You can be less responsible at work, less motivated, aggressive, violent, irritable, anxious, or paranoid. You may also affect your health, lifestyle and social skills, as well as many other aspects of your life. At the bottom of all these is your mental health.
So does drug abuse cause mental health problems, or does mental health problems cause drug problems?
While the two are largely linked, it’s hard to tell which came first. It’s like the chicken and egg debate that can go on forever.
For one, having a mental illness can drive a person to seek drugs to cope and feel better, even for a short while. This can make the symptoms of mental illness even worse, and the treatment for mental illness and addiction much more difficult.
People with mental illness become addicted to drugs at a much higher rate, at around 50%.
Meanwhile, other people may use drugs and this can then trigger the first symptoms of mental illness, such as drug-induced psychosis. There are also instances when a person may have a predisposition to psychosis or schizophrenia and using drugs for even just a short while can trigger the beginning of a lifelong mental illness.
Therefore, anyone who is vulnerable or has a family history of mental illness is strictly discouraged from using any mind-altering and addictive drugs.
During addiction treatment and rehabilitation, it is important that the program diagnoses and addresses both the addiction and the mental illness.
How Can You Get Help?
People who struggle with addiction and mental illness have a much better chance at recovery when they are in a supportive and positive environment.
There are also many ways for getting help for drug addiction, even with mental health problems.