Impact of Substance Abuse on Mental Health

Impact of Substance Abuse on Mental HealthAbusing drugs or alcohol impacts the brain and body. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse1, substance abuse interferes with the brain’s communication system. Substance abuse causes two primary reactions: it floods the brain and body with pleasure hormones or it alters communication systems in the brain.In both situations, it changes the natural balance of hormones in the body and brain. In some cases, the changes in the brain cause a mental health disorder.

What Is a Substance Induced Disorder?

A substance induced disorder is similar to a mental health disorder, but a key factor sets it apart as a separate condition. The National Institutes on Health2 explain that the toxic effects of drugs or alcohol mimic the symptoms of a mental health disorder. Essentially, a substance induced disorder looks similar to a mental health disorder, but it is directly caused by the drug.The National Institutes on Health2 warn that the symptoms do not necessarily fade after addiction treatment. In some cases, the disorder persists during recovery; however, eliminating the toxic substance reduces the impact of the disorder and provides a chance to obtain a healthy lifestyle. In some situations, the symptoms will gradually fade during treatment.

Rates of Co-Occurring Disorders

rates of co-occurring disorders with addicts are more likely to relapseAccording to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, individuals with mental health disorders are two times more likely to abuse drugs than the general population. When a treatment program identifies a co-occurring disorder or symptoms of a mental health disorder, a plan of action focuses on treating both conditions. Even if a loved one has a substance induced disorder, treatment addresses the depression, anxiety or other symptoms that develop.

Psych Central4 states that substance induced disorders do not always occur during substance abuse. In some situations, the onset of a mood disorder or hallucinations occurs during the detoxification process.

Identifying the Disorder

Identifying the type of co-occurring disorder that develops before, during or after substance abuse requires professional expertise. The National Institutes on Health2 state that some individuals have independent co-occurring mental health disorders and substance-induced disorders at the same time.

Signs of a substance induced disorder include:
  • Symptoms that develop during intoxication or withdrawal
  • No history of mental health disorders before substance abuse began
  • A clear cluster of symptoms in a similar time period that occur rapidly
  • Symptoms that fade during and after treatment
Substance induced disorders do not always fade completely because substance abuse changes the appearance of the brain. The brain requires time to fully heal and some substances damage the brain to the point that healing is not possible.Due to the potential complications associated with substance induced disorders, treatment programs focus on providing the right plan for each individual.

Help a Loved One

Helping a loved one When you notice odd behaviors, encourage professional assistance and treatment. Your loved one might not realize the dangers associated with substance abuse or may overlook the signs of a mental health disorder.Professional assistance provides the tools and information to obtain recovery goals and start working toward a healthy future. A treatment program also addresses the substance induced disorder and provides tools to help with the uncomfortable symptoms.

Whether a mental health disorder develops during substance abuse or it is the cause of substance abuse, seeking professional treatment helps a loved one recover. Encourage early treatment and reduce the risk of relapse by helping a loved one connect with treatment professionals.


References:
  1. Drugs and the Brain, The National Institute on Drug Abuse, July 2014, http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drugs-brain
  2. 9 Substance-Induced Disorders, The National Institutes on Health, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64178/
  3. Comorbidity: Addiction and Other Mental Illnesses, The National Institute on Drug Abuse, September, 2010, https://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/rrcomorbidity.pdf
  4. Richard K. Ries, M.D., Mood Disorders and Alcohol/Drug Use, Psych Central, January 30, 2013, http://psychcentral.com/lib/mood-disorders-and-alcoholdrug-use/0001151


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