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Why Substance Abuse Can Be Worsening Your Mental Illnesses

by Patrick Bailey

Suffering from any type of mental illness can make you feel very alone. You may not think anyone understands what you are going through. It may seem like everyone is staring at you, maybe even judging you. While you are dealing with anxiety, stress, depression, schizophrenia, PTSD, or any other mental illness, you may be fighting symptoms all the way. You may feel isolated, depressed, anxious, fidgety, manic, on edge, or even in a constant battle with yourself.

Maybe you started using drugs or drinking to handle the symptoms of your mental illness. This happens to millions of people who suffer from a mental illness. It may have seemed like the only way you could distract yourself from your mental illness. Maybe you began drinking or using drugs to drown out the emotions you had, which were stemming from your mental illness.

Regardless of why you started drinking or using drugs, it is important to know that substance abuse can be worsening your mental illnesses. Mixing substances like drugs or alcohol with the symptoms of mental illness can amplify every symptom you are having. It can even bring on new symptoms or lead to another mental illness as well.

Abuse of Depressants

One of the reasons why substance abuse can be worsening your mental illnesses is because you are using depressants. If you are already feeling depressed, anxious, stressed, or overwhelmed, taking depressants is only going to make that worse. Depressants such as alcohol, sedatives, tranquilizers, benzodiazepines, and barbiturates, are never a good idea when you suffer from a mental illness.

There is a direct relationship between substance abuse and depression. Many people who suffer from depression develop an addiction and vice versa. Someone who has depression might start drinking or abusing drugs to escape their feelings. Those who have depression after they start coming down from drugs or alcohol may be struggling to figure out how their life has gotten to this point.

Did you begin using alcohol or drugs and that led to your depression? Did you start taking depressants because you were depressed and that led to your addiction? It could have gone either way. However, no matter what, if you have a mental illness and substance abuse disorder, help is available.

Abuse of Amphetamines

Many people abuse amphetamines when they have a mental illness. They may also develop a mental illness because of their addiction to amphetamines. If you have a mental illness of any kind, taking these kinds of drugs is never a good thing.

Some people who take amphetamines, such as Adderall, Dexedrine, and Methamphetamine, develop a drug-induced mood disorder. They may start feeling sad, irritable, restless, or even manic. Some people lose pleasure in doing things they once loved. They may develop delusions, elevated mood swings, racing thoughts, and impulsivity.

Having a prior mental illness and abusing mental illness can increase the symptoms you have. For example, if you had a panic disorder, taking amphetamines can increase your racing thoughts to the point where you are having constant panic attacks.

If you have been using amphetamines and developed a mental illness or vice versa, treatment may be needed.

Abuse of Hallucinogens

There are many people who abuse hallucinogens and develop severe mental illness as a result. There are also some people who have a mental illness and use hallucinogens to hide from their symptoms. Some of these hallucinogens might be salvia, LSD, peyote, or psilocybin.

Some of the short-term effects of hallucinogens are hallucinations, sluggish thoughts, and delirium. Taking hallucinogens can be extremely dangerous, and it is even worse when someone has a mental illness. For example, if you already suffer from psychosis, taking hallucinogens can cause you to harm yourself or others. You could also develop increase paranoia and anxiety, especially if you already suffer from these disorders.

If you have been abusing hallucinogens and you have a mental illness, it is time to get treatment. The longer you wait to get treatment, the higher risk you having seriously negative effects or even losing your life.

Abuse of Opioids

Opioid epidemics are on the rise around the world. Not only can these drugs be deadly on their own, abusing them while having a mental illness, makes the risks that much higher. Additionally, abusing opioids can lead to more mental illness symptoms as well.

Some of the most common opioids that are being abused include hydrocodone, Oxycontin, Percocet, morphine, and Vicodin. These drugs do negatively impact the brain, the user’s mood, stability level, and even change the chemistry of the brain. One example of the negative impact involved when abusing opioids with a mental illness is increased depression. This greatly increases the chances that someone would commit suicide.

If you have been abusing opioids and you have a mental illness, you don’t have to lose your life. You have options. There are treatment programs that allow you to get help not only for the substance abuse disorder but the mental illness as well.

Abuse of Inhalants

Millions of people around the world have abused inhalants. To make matters worse, there are many people abusing these drugs that also have a mental health illness. Abusing inhalants, while having a mental health disorder, is extremely dangerous.

Some of the most common inhalants being abused are gasoline, glues, aerosol sprays, chloroform, and nitrous oxide. When using inhalants, the user might experience delusions, hallucinations, impaired judgment, and hostility. These side effects can be troubling on their own. However, for example, when combined with a mental illness, they could cause someone who already has hallucinations, to go into a fit of rage. They may hurt someone because they think that person has done them wrong.

If you have an addiction to inhalants and you have a mental illness, get help to treat both of these disorders.

Substance abuse can and does worsen mental illness. Not only can abusing drugs or alcohol worsen the symptoms of mental illness, doing so can lead to mental illness as well.


About the author: Patrick Bailey is a blogger and professional writer focused on mental illness and addiction.

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