Have you ever taken drinks or substances to manage your stress levels after an unfortunate event?

In today’s society, it is common for some people to cope with stress and anxiety by using substances like depressants, hallucinogens, etc. People tend to use these substances to tone down the pressure or let their minds escape the bad feelings that they would rather not confront.

While these help them cope for a while, the long-term adverse side effects take over their lives if they don’t cease using the substances. And the difficult part of it is that the stress removal that the temporary alleviation that the substances give is highly addictive.

Sooner or later, the thing that supposedly helps you cope with anxiety becomes what causes your entire mental and physical breakdown.

What is the Link Between Mental Health and Substance Abuse?

A person who has both a mental health issue like bipolar disorder, depression, or anxiety, and is, at the same time, dealing with addiction like substance abuse has what we call a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder.

Substance abuse, alcohol problems, and drug addiction are in themselves difficult problems to deal with and solve. These issues become significantly worsened if the person suffering from any of them has mental health problems.

Psychological and mental problems have their own unique symptoms that can disable a person from properly functioning. Substance abuse has its own similar effects too, and makes it difficult for a person to relate with others, do work, maintain a stable life, and handle difficulties.

When the symptoms of mental health problems mix with those given by substance abuse, things become more difficult. Another thing is that when a person’s mental health problem becomes worse, the substance or alcohol abuse most often increases, leading to exponentially harder things to solve.

Not many people realize that they might have co-occurring substance abuse issues and mental health problems.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, around 50% of individuals suffering from severe mental disorders also have substance abuse problems. Also, they have found that 37% percent of those with alcohol problems and 53% of people who abuse are diagnosed with at least one severe mental disease.

Additionally, 29% of people diagnosed with mental disorders abuse drugs or alcohol.  This is usually because people who cannot cope with their mental problems and symptoms tend to self-medicate with substances.

Mental health issues and substance abuse problems will never get better when left ignored, and they most often become worse in time. And while some people might need more external support than others, there are those who can effectively take the first steps to recovery.

Mental Health Problems and Substance Abuse – What Comes first? 

Mental health problems like anxiety and depression are closely linked with substance abuse. However, one is not necessarily a direct cause to the other.

When you abuse drugs like methamphetamine or marijuana, you can suffer prolonged psychotic problems. On the other hand, when you abuse alcohol, you will effectively make your anxiety and depression worse.

An Easy but Dangerous Way Out

The thing is that people tend to abuse drugs and alcohol to self-medicate and ease the symptoms of their mental health issues. Those who have diagnosed mental disorders tend to use substances to cope with uncomfortable moods and difficult emotions.

Unfortunately, using drugs and alcohol to relieve bad feelings cause side effects that worsen in time. Substance abuse imbalances your stress hormones which makes your nervous system significantly depend on the drug or drink to “stabilize” your emotions and temperament.

Additionally, the body’s cleansing systems, especially the liver, have to get rid of the foreign things that you intake as they are technically and literally poison. You could end up dealing with diseases like liver cirrhosis, heart disease, kidney problems, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and others.

Also, abusing drugs and alcohol to cope with mental illness numbs the central nervous system, dulling the effects of proper medication. This especially happens when people who are already taking prescription drugs for their mental health would mix drugs and alcohol into the equation.

What to Do

The straightforward advice to anyone who is feeling depressed, anxious, emotionally, unstable, or mentally fatigued is to not start a habit of drinking or substance abuse.

The best thing that you can do is surround yourself with people who can support you and give you the right help that you need.

It would be best to ask for help and go to a mental health practitioner so that you can have the proper therapeutic measures like therapy and prescription drugs that will keep you away from needing unwanted substances.

If You Are Struggling Today, You Need Help ASAP.

Substance and alcohol abuse is difficult to fix. Coupled with mental health problems, it is exponentially worse.

If you have been struggling for some time, no matter how short or long your battle has been, it would be best to seek help fast.