The mental health of an individual is unique to them. That being the case, each person will experience a different relationship between mental health and substance abuse. Therefore, the effects of drug use on mental health remain complicated since some people are at a greater risk of mental health issues than others.
Addiction occurs when repeated use of drugs changes the way a person’s brain responds to pleasure. It essentially develops when the urge to take drugs or alcohol takes over part of the brain responsible for rewarding behavior and benefits the body. Substance use can also affect the brain area responsible for decision-making and emotions.
Because it’s easier to see the physical ailments, often, the conversations about the effects of addiction resulting from alcohol use, cocaine and other drugs focus primarily on physical aspects. By focusing too much on observable physical aspects of drug use, it’s easier to overlook the dark mental health effects of drug problems.
The impact of addiction on mental health is detrimental because the brain is delicate and intricate yet the most important organ in the body.
As established so far, substance addiction has far-reaching effects on mental health. The effects also extend to physical complications and can create financial problems. Addiction in itself is a mental health issue that directly and indirectly correlates with other mental health problems.
Effective treatment, at a facility like Changing Tides, is necessary to mitigate alcohol and drug addiction, manage mental health disorders and restore your overall health. However, delivering appropriate care to a health problem linked to addiction can be challenging.
At Changing Tides, we offer various treatment programs for individuals taking drugs or experiencing mental health challenges.
We offer the following Alcoholics Anonymous approved addiction programs:
Day Treatment/Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP):Our PHP program is for those who require more care than the standard outpatient treatment. This high level of care comes with more freedom and flexibility than residential programs while continuing to support the patient.
Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP):Our IOP program is offered as a treatment plan for alcohol and drug rehab programs. It’s a well-structured and comprehensive program that supports our clients in their journey towards recovery and sobriety.
General Outpatient Program (GOP): Once the Day Treatment/ PHP and IOP are complete, we take our clients through an intensive outpatient program at a level that’s least restrictive. This helps clients solidify their growth in the recovery they’ve already experienced.
How Addiction Affects Your Mental Health
The uncertainty and stress of the COVID-19 pandemic led to increased demand for mental health services. Depression and anxiety weren’t the only mental health disorders people faced during the crisis. Drug use, leading to substance use disorders, was rampant.
At least 13% of Americans cited starting or increasing the use of drugs to cope with the stress related to the disease and its effects. The 18% increase in nationwide overdoses indicated addiction was significant concern over the previous year. As a result, Americans abusing drugs were at an increased risk of developing COVID-19 and experiencing worse outcomes.
The pandemic created a widespread feeling of fear across the world and affected more than people with existing drug problems. A great number of people turned to alcohol, stimulants and other drugs for relief. Substance use was seen as the best way to cope with the stress and the uncertainty of the pandemic.
Addiction and Mental Health Problems
At Changing Tides, we have seen many people start using substances, including recreational drugs, to respond to specific events such as job loss, trauma or relationship breakup or to reduce the intensity of unpleasant emotions. For instance, people use alcohol to make themselves feel better.
Alcohol and drugs are never the solutions! They create a temporary surge of hormones and chemicals known as serotonin and dopamine, altering the reward circuit and making people feel momentarily happier until the surge is gone.
When this happens, such users experience a “crash,” leaving them in a worse state than they were before substance use. Many will begin using the substance again, creating a continuous cycle of substance abuse problems.
As such, people who abuse alcohol or drugs experience:
Mood dysregulation: Substance addiction and emotional dysregulation are two intertwined mental health problems. Excessive consumption of alcohol or drugs over time leads to the brain being unable to produce enough serotonin on its own. As such, people with drug use problems are at risk of significant mood dysregulation.
Depression and anxiety: Drugs may make people feel less anxious and depressed by improving confidence and reducing feelings of inadequacy. However, since substance abuse can cause permanent changes to the brain in the long run, depression and anxiety disorders often return worse than before when the body runs out of drugs.
Bipolar disorder: This is a mental health problem characterized by extreme mood swings and shifts in energy and level of activity. People suffering from this condition may not realize they have it and try to self-medicate with drugs to suppress it. Substance misuse has the same effects on this particular disorder as it does on depression and anxiety.
Short-Term and Long-Term Effects
The short-term effects of addiction on mental health can vary depending on several factors, including when one starts to drink, existing mental health problems, type of drugs and frequency of use, bodily makeup and family history of substance abuse. The short-term effects may include mild cognitive and physical impairment because of the immediate effect of substances on the brain. However, heavy drug abuse can result in seizures, vomiting, confusion, slow heart rate or death.
Continuous substance abuse can create long-term health complications. The long-term effects of excessively using alcohol, cocaine or other drugs can result in physical and mental complications. For instance, the heart, liver, immune system and digestive system can develop chronic conditions, including cancer. Mental health effects are also an adverse long-term outcome of a prolonged drug or alcohol problem, including symptoms of mental health problems.
Dangers of Self-Medicating
In some cases, people experiencing mental health issues or substance abuse may be tempted to self-medicate to get themselves out of their situation. Self-medicating, which often involves using substances when new symptoms of mental health illnesses emerge, can carry numerous risks.
Some of these risks include dangerous drug interaction, incorrect self-diagnosis, masking severe disease, risk of dependence, adverse reactions, worsening condition and delays seeking appropriate medical service.
Why Changing Tides?
Changing Tides is an independent and reputable addiction treatment center specializing in alcohol and drug addiction and the causes they have with your mental health. We’re strategically located in the Outer Banks of the North Carolina oceanfront, allowing you to have a beautiful oceanic view during your journey towards recovery.
Our facility mimics a real-world environment, which is ideal for overcoming stressors to mental health issues. Our programs also offer peer support or support groups to help you build relationships with your peers. All these advantages come at an affordable rate.