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How Mental Health and Substance Abuse Are Related

a person sitting on the floor with their head in their hands, anxious and learning about Mental health and substance abuse

Substance abuse is most likely a big issue in your community, no matter where you live. Over time, a pattern of abuse can easily lead to diagnosable drug or alcohol use conditions. As a rule, these disorders significantly negatively impact people’s mental health. Not only do they directly affect your sense of well-being, but they can also increase your risk for other kinds of mental health issues.

What Is Substance Abuse?

What do experts mean when they talk about substance abuse? Often, the term describes risky forms of drugs or alcohol consumption. Another term for this same risky behavior is substance misuse.

Whenever you take an illegal drug, you engage in a form of misuse. You can misuse a prescription drug by doing things such as:

  • Taking it for recreational purposes
  • Using it when not prescribed to you
  • Taking larger or more frequent doses than intended

You can misuse alcohol by drinking heavy amounts. You can also misuse it by participating in underage drinking.

Is Substance Abuse a Mental Health Issue?

Substance abuse is widespread throughout America. The same holds true for mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. It’s common to see mental illness discussed separately from drug and alcohol abuse and addiction. But this division does not reflect reality.

Today, diagnosable substance abuse problems are categorized as mental illnesses. The umbrella term for these problems is substance use disorder or SUD. Under the SUD umbrella are a wide range of conditions, including:

  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Stimulant use disorder
  • Opioid use disorder
  • Cannabis use disorder
  • Sedative, hypnotic or anxiolytic use disorder
  • Phencyclidine use disorder
  • Inhalant use disorder

Is substance abuse a mental health issue? Yes. This distinction is true for a couple of reasons. First, if you misuse drugs or alcohol, you drastically increase your chances of developing a SUD. In addition, in the context of SUDs, the term substance abuse also has another, official meaning. Specifically, it refers to a life-disrupting pattern of non-addicted drug or alcohol use.

In any person with a SUD, three groupings of symptoms are possible. You may only have signs of drug or alcohol addiction. You may also be solely affected by symptoms of serious substance abuse. In addition, you may have combined symptoms of substance addiction and abuse.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health – Co-Occurring Disorders

Mental health and substance abuse can also interact in other ways. If you have a SUD, you have heightened odds of being diagnosed with another, separate mental illness. That’s true for several reasons.

First, factors that increase your SUD risks can also increase your risk for depression and other illnesses. In addition, the presence of a SUD changes the way your brain works. In some cases, these changes make other illnesses more likely to develop. Moreover, if you have a non-substance-related mental illness, you may try to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. You may inadvertently increase your chances of qualifying for a SUD diagnosis.

Get More Information on Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment at Northpoint Colorado

Substance abuse and mental health are deeply intertwined. The more you misuse drugs or alcohol, the greater your exposure to severe problems. These problems are not limited to the development of SUDs. In addition, you may experience other forms of diagnosable mental illness.

Have more questions about mental health and substance abuse? Talk to the experts at Northpoint Colorado. We can help you determine your level of risk for substance-related mental health issues. We also specialize in treating these issues and any co-occurring disorders. Call us today at 888.231.1281 or fill out our online form to learn more about our customized treatment options.