Mental Health and Substance Abuse

Mental Health and Substance Abuse
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There are correlations between mental health and addiction, however, it is important to know one does not directly cause the other. There is a link between the two because of how they play off of each other. When you do have a substance abuse problem and suffer from a mental health disorder, such as depression, it is called a dual-diagnosis. Suffering from both disorders if ignored and left untreated is dangerous.

Early detection with mental health problems can help issues later in life especially with addiction. There are warning signs that family and friends should look out for. Drastic changes in mood or eating habits. extreme highs and extreme lows, cutting, pulling out hair, excessive anger, unprovoked violence, or even talk of suicide. If you have a friend or family member that you notice a change in, gradual or sudden, ask if that friend or a family member needs to talk. Mental illness is not curable. It is treatable. The sooner we can get mental health patients in with a mental health professional the better.

Disorders such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) can lead someone to self-medicate. Self-medicating can lead to the prolonged prognosis of mental illness or falling into addiction. For example, someone suffering from social anxiety can drink alcohol at a social gathering with the intention to calm their nerves. Unfortunately, with an addict, this can become “I can’t go out without drinking because I am always uncomfortable.” Or someone with undiagnosed social anxiety can delay seeking treatment because this may work for a short period of time. Or the student feeling lack of motivation or cramming for an exam may use cocaine or non-prescribed medications, like Adderall, off of the street to ‘help’ get them through that exam. Partying has become a norm on campuses and students with undiagnosed mental illnesses or is prone to addiction can fall into bad habits. Bad habits that can quickly turn into much bigger problems. These are real-life scenarios that can easily turn into symptoms of mental issues or addiction. Self-medicating can also provide an illusion of comfort. Therefore, again, prolonging them seeking counseling or treatment from what disorder is causing the issues to begin with.

Just as disorders can lead to addiction, addiction can lead to major mental health issues. Poor decision making is a huge problem with addicts. Sometimes, these poor decisions can lead to putting themselves in extremely dangerous situations. Becoming a victim of assault or rape is common among addicts. People who have been sexually assaulted are more likely to use drugs than the general public . Some victims are ten times more likely to turn to hard drugs. During active addiction, a lot of commonplace practices can lead to life-altering issues. Sharing needles or having unprotected sex can lead to lifelong diseases such as Hepatitis or AIDS. The longer an addict stays active there are common disorders that can hide behind the addiction. Disorders such as schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, and PTSD. A lot of situations addicts find themselves in are triggers for any underlying problem they may or may not have had to begin with.

Substance abuse and mental health run hand-in-hand. One can hide or disguise the other. With certain withdrawals, depression and/or anxiety can be a symptom. Someone already suffering from depression, anxiety, or PTSD can go undiagnosed because of these withdrawals. It is vital that anyone struggling with mental health or substance abuse seek help. It is important to find an accredited program that can diagnose both mental health disorders and addiction. Say again? Dual diagnosis.