Substance Use

What Is The Relationship Between Mental Illness And Substance Use

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that up to 50 percent of patients dealing with mental illness also contend with substance abuse. Such a high prevalence rate has led to wild speculation regarding the association between substance abuse and mental health.
While such supposition isn’t unfounded, the consensus is that neither condition causes the other. Nevertheless, if you’re dealing with a mental health issue, you might end up dealing with an issue related to substance abuse.

You can learn how to overcome this uneasy relationship from Veritas Detox. In the meantime, let me provide a low down on the link between mental health and substance abuse.

Common Symptoms 

It might appear intriguing, but substance abuse can trigger symptoms often associated with mental illness. For instance, alcohol is commonly known to depress the central nervous system. When that occurs, you might end up feeling lethargic and gloomy- symptoms similar to depression.

Likewise, cocaine use could induce psychosis, a mental state in which a user hallucinates and feels delusional. Well, such symptoms are common among schizophrenia patients. Chronic drug abuse could lead to psychotic illness as the brain’s chemistry changes. Such shared symptoms easily explain the close association between mental illness and substance use.

Untreated Mental Illness Puts You at Risk of Substance Use

If left untreated, a mental illness or disorder could cause your life to unravel in short order. If you’re dealing with depression, for instance, you could turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism in the hope of relieving your symptoms.

Alcohol could offer some relief, but this is often short-lived. When the symptoms recur, you would have to indulge in more alcohol, and before you know it, you’re hooked. Ultimately, your symptoms could worsen, leaving you in a situation you cannot untangle.

Substance Use Can Heighten the Risk of Mental Illness

We can’t authoritatively argue that substance use directly leads to mental health. Nonetheless, if you have a high probability of developing a mental illness, then substance use could throw a spanner in the works.

For instance, evidence suggests that the abuse of opioid painkillers could raise your odds of developing depression. In the same regard, marijuana abuse has heightened the risk for schizophrenia.

Plus, symptoms of mental illness could worsen, and new symptoms can emerge as a result of substance use. Drugs or other substances can limit the efficacy of medications for mental ailments. For instance, alcohol can interact with mood stabilizers, making hard work of trying to manage symptoms.

Based on this assessment, it’s clear to see a pattern emerge, further explaining the association between mental illness and substance abuse. Let’s also look at some factors that could help explain the link.


It’s common knowledge that self-medication is often an option that mental health patients pursue. Such medication usually involves drugs or alcohol- as exhibited by research in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Still, mental health and substance abuse can affect your behavior and mood. Consequently, either condition can worsen your symptoms, leading you deeper into the mire.

Risk Factors

Risk factors are essentially the variables that could increase the likelihood of developing a specific ailment or condition. The risk factors for either mental illness or substance abuse impact their link.

Let’s suppose you went through a traumatic childhood experience, such as the loss of a parent. An event of such a nature could trigger mental illnesses like post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD) or depression.

As a result, you could have difficulty coping with the ups and downs of life, leading you to experiment with alcohol or drugs. Consequently, you could end up dealing with addiction in due course.


In what culture have you been brought up? What is it like living in your neighborhood? How’s your family’s socioeconomic status? Answers to these queries can explain whether or not you’re exposed to the precursors of mental health.

Case in point, if you’re exposed to stress due to your family’s financial status, you could develop mental health issues. Plus, if you live in a neighborhood where substance abuse is prevalent, you could be tempted to try alcohol or other drugs as an escape. Eventually, you might end up struggling with substance abuse and mental illness.


Unfortunately, family genetics also play a part in explaining the association between substance use and mental illness. Your genetic makeup may not predict mental illness or the likelihood of substance abuse. But, experts concur that several genes passed down your family tree could exacerbate the risks. As such, your genes could set you up on a collision course with mental illness and substance use.

In sum, mental illness and substance abuse are closely associated. We cannot address one issue and turn a blind eye to the other. If you’re struggling with a mental illness or substance abuse, consider seeking treatment. A comprehensive treatment and aftercare plan can help you manage the symptoms and prevent relapse.

By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.