The Interplay of Drugs and Mental Illness

Justin Foxx
Staff Writer

Features_Justin Foxx_Addiction and Mental Illness_PC NIDA

PC: NIDA

The issue of drug abuse, especially in our developed world, is a problem that is integral to the health and greater well-being of society. The effects of addiction are wide,  and the roots can be deeper than most care to imagine. Though the effects of this may come in the form of physical degradation, it is important that we understand that addiction is a disease of the mind in and of itself, and as such is irrevocably linked to the mental health of an individual as well.

What does this mean, then? Be it prescription opioids, hallucinogens or amphetamines, the alterations that these drugs make to the biochemistry in the brain can bring the onset of some more heinous mental health issues. A slew of scientific research has found that users are almost twice as likely to suffer from mood or anxiety disorders, which includes things such as Major Depressive Disorder, and anxiety disorders related to panic and paranoia (National Institute on Drug Abuse).

Much of this is compounded by the difficulty that lies in the combination of these two factors; the causal link is a bit more difficult to state, as the US alone sees 43.8 million adults, approximately 18.5 percent of its population, suffering from a wide array of mental health problems at any given time . 8.1 million of these people will suffer comorbidity, which is just a fancy word for multiple mental issues.

Whether it is a person already in throes against these life-altering problems who then seeks out drugs as a means to escape their issues, or a person who comes to suffer these same issues through drugs, the nuance does not matter. The only thing that matters is the individual and their road to recovery and management for both of these monsters; and they are certainly monstrous.

The steps which an addicted person must go through to reach recovery is a road not often understood by those who haven’t suffered the same. Empathy and support from family and loved ones are important, but ultimately this is a commitment that someone must want to make for themselves.

The road begins with the personal decision, the detoxing of the body and variance in other steps for people fighting this. Much like any other mental illness, one treatment does not fit all. Behavioral counseling or group counseling is a thing that often keeps people consistently responsible for maintaining sobriety, and medication for combating any residual mental illness outside of the drug addiction itself can also be a good step on this journey.

And while it might be obvious for some, working with a physician is a very important step in remedying any number of these problems. Although the decision might be up to the individual, the journey doesn’t have to be made alone.

There’s help that can be found, whatever the circumstances. If you are looking to overcome these issues and don’t know where to begin, the U.S. hotline for drug addiction may be a good place to start: 1-888-744-0069.



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