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The Relationship Between Mental Health and Addiction

For many people who suffer from drug and alcohol dependency issues, mental health and addiction are closely related. Some people turn to alcohol and drugs to escape mental health issues like depression, stress, and social anxiety. Although these may seem like good solutions in the short term, they almost always have negative consequences down the road. Abusing drugs often increases a person’s sense of worthlessness. Drug abusers may isolate themselves from family and friends in order to hide their habit, which can worsen depression in the long run. For others, abusing drugs or alcohol actually creates both mental health and addiction issues. Depression and suicidal tendencies can result from abusing alcohol.

Stimulants Can Cause Permanent Damage

Stimulants like cocaine and heroin can often cause delusional and paranoid thoughts and can exacerbate obsessive-compulsive tendencies. Hallucinogens like LSD and mescaline can also cause vivid dreams and visions. Although many of these effects are temporary, some may be long-lasting. Recent studies have shown that people who abuse drugs like cocaine, amphetamines, and even marijuana are more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia, a mental condition that can be controlled, but not cured, with medication. Methamphetamines can actually change the chemistry of the brain, leading to a permanent state of depression.

When a person uses meth, the dopamine levels in their brain soar. After the meth high has faded, the dopamine levels drop again. Eventually, the brain quits making dopamine on its own and relies on the drug to provide it. The result is that when a meth addict is not high, the lack of dopamine causes them to feel depressed and anxious. The best way to improve mental health and addiction issues is to quit using drugs. Although a small percent of people are able to stop abusing drugs on their own, many people find that they must seek help to get clean. Some people enroll in 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous to end an alcohol or drug habit. These programs focus on having faith in a higher power, sharing your struggles with others, making amends to those you have hurt, and becoming accountable to a “sponsor” in the program.

Quit Programs Do Work

Some studies show that more than 75 percent of people who attend Alcoholics Anonymous are able to stop abusing controlled substances. One of the most beneficial ways to kick a drug or alcohol addiction is to enroll in a rehabilitation program. These programs allow you to be supervised by doctors and therapists on a round-the-clock basis and help you get away from negative influences that might contribute to your substance abuse. Many people find that upon leaving a rehabilitation center, both their physical and mental health has improved. Unfortunately, rehabilitation centers are too expensive for some people with mental health and addiction issues. According to a 2002 study, the average cost of a residential rehabilitation program was $3,800.

Lasting Effects Of Addiction

If you are struggling with the lasting effects of drugs, talk to your doctor. Many drugs can negatively affect a person’s mental health, even years after they were taken. For example, some people who have abused hallucinogens like acid or mushrooms report suffering from vivid nightmares and delusions for decades. Finally, speaking with a psychologist can make sure that your mental health and addiction issues are resolved. A therapist can help you work on mental health issues like depression, bi-polar disorder, or a lack of self-esteem that might have contributed to your drug addiction in the first place. Your psychologist can also prescribe non-habit forming medications to treat any outstanding mental health issues, or may even be able to recommend drug-free methods to improve your mental health, like increasing your exercise, volunteering, or reconnecting with family and friends.