Person with lights overhead, representing mental illness

The Opioid Epidemic is one of the most significant health crises to affect the United States in history. The problem – created by the overprescription and overuse of opioid medications – has led to hundreds of thousands of American lives lost through opioid overdoses. And the problem is only continuing to get worse as addiction continues to grow and drugs like fentanyl become more present. 

While the use and abuse of these drugs can lead to numerous dangerous physical health effects, one of the less understood effects is how it can impact an individual’s mental health. 

Opioid therapy is not a prescription medication that can be used to treat problems like depression or anxiety as no studies indicate any form of lasting relief. In fact, some studies show that the use of these substance may even cause or exacerbate these problems. Similarly, if someone is suffering from these problems it increases their risk of abusing and misusing these drugs. 


When it comes to mental health, one of the most common problems for people is depression. An estimated 17.3 million Americans deal with a depressive episode at least once during their lives. Unfortunately, these problems mean that they are more at risk of dealing with opioid abuse and addiction

One study showed that people with depression had double the risk of suffering from opioid use disorder, often because they use them to treat other problems like insomnia or stress. Moreover, people who have depression are more likely to start using opioids to begin with. 

So not only are people suffering from depression more likely to start using opioids in the first place, they are more likely to develop an abuse problem with the substance as well.  


Often times people will turn to self-medication when dealing with a problem like anxiety. While there is some evidence that shows that using opioids can numb the body to these problems in the short-term, they will only elevate the problem in the long term – increased anxiety is one of the many effects of opioid withdrawal that can affect someone who abuses these drugs and stops abruptly. 

Using medication to deal with these issues is a form of avoidance. Rather than confronting the problem, people will look to substances, including opioids or alcohol to get their mind off of them temporarily. 

If you want to truly overcome this problem rather than pushing it aside, it is vital to seek treatment. Luckily, treatment can be found for both mental health and substance abuse at the same time. 

When a person deals with both a mental health disorder and a substance abuse addiction problem, it is referred to as a dual diagnosis. That said, there are opioid treatment centers across the nation in place to help people overcome these issues. 

Despite how problematic the opioid epidemic has become, there are ways to overcome the issue. For example, being disciplined with your prescriptions can help you avoid misuse and addiction. Furthermore, if you do notice someone dealing with addiction it is vital they receive treatment for their issue, such as at a Scottsdale, AZ rehab. Working together, the opioid crisis is a problem that we can solve through evidence-based treatment, education, and awareness.