The Toxic Time Bomb - A destructive relationship.

The Toxic Time bomb 

Addiction & Mental illness

There is a well-known relationship between substance abuse and mental illness. 

Different factors can influence this connection and in many cases, an underlying condition is a driver to substance abuse.

However, substance abuse can also trigger mental illness itself.

It’s important to note that substance abuse is not the only reason that mental disorders occur. Other underlying causes, such as genetics and environment are also instrumental. 

#001: Substance Abuse & Mental Illness

It is well known that alcohol and certain drugs can cause mental illness, or trigger a pre-existing psychological condition.

Someone may not  have depression or schizophrenia before they engage in substance abuse. But certain drugs can trigger these conditions. There is no way and there is no way to predict who is at risk. It may very well be that if they never started using, they would have never developed a problem.

Substance abuse can cause short and long-term changes in the brain, and these changes can set the stage for developing a psychological disorder. 

Young people are especially vulnerable, as their brains are still developing. Substance abuse at a young age can cause lasting damage.

There are many studies indicating  that depression and schizophrenia are strongly influenced by drug and alcohol use. 

Certain drugs and alcohol are known to either cause or “activate” psychological disorders. It is unclear, however, exactly why this happens.

One theory is that alcohol and drug use, especially over an extended period, can affect gene expression, which can trigger certain psychological disorders if a person is predisposed to them. 

In addition, these changes to the body can be passed down to future generations.


#002: Alcohol, Opioids, and Depression

Substance abuse can play a key role in influencing and Individuals mental health. It can exacerbate a mental illness that may already exist.

About a third to half of people who abuse alcohol develop depressive symptoms. 

Studies have shown that chronic alcohol abuse causes changes in brain chemistry and may lead to folate deficiency, both of which are causes of depressive disorder. 

In addition, heavy alcohol consumption within a short period can mimic symptoms of depression. This can worsen psychological problems if mild symptoms are already present.

Chronic abuse of opioids, such as heroin, has also been associated with the development of moderate or severe depression.

#003:  Cannabis, amphetamines and Schizophrenia

Long-term cannabis use correlates with an increased risk of psychosis, especially if a person is a carrier of specific genes. 

In addition, cannabis use, especially in adolesence, is linked to a higher risk of developing schizophrenic disorders.

Other studies have shown that meth/ amphetamines abuse may contribute to the development of schizophrenia as well.

Chronic abuse of other drugs, has also been known to worsen or cause mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and mood disorders.

For example, if a person was only experiencing mild depressive-like symptoms before, substance use can grow that into a severe depression.

Furthermore, long-term substance abuse can cause changes in lifestyle that result in poor decision-making, which can lead a person into bad situations.

#004: Substance Abuse and Addiction

Substance abuse is not the same as addiction. However, it is important not to forget that addiction is a mental illness as well, and abusing alcohol or drugs can lead to addiction.

The effects on the brain and body caused by substance use or the withdrawal process can often mimic the symptoms of mental illness. 

People who come in for substance abuse treatment often exhibit symptoms of a mood or personality disorder. However, these symptoms tend to disappear early on in treatment, after a period of abstinence. 

In such situations, a person would be diagnosed with a substance-induced problem, instead of a co-occuring mental disorder.

Side-effects of substance use and withdrawal can include depression, paranoia, psychosis and hallucinations. At times, these symptoms can persist for long periods, after a person is sober. 

#005: Influence of mental illness on Substance Abuse

In many cases, mental illness that appears due to substance abuse, was already present in the person. They may not have been aware of it or never diagnosed.

In the case of depression, some of the first symptoms are feeling lethargic and unmotivated. 

A person may attribute this to an off week or poor sleep. To alleviate the symptoms, the person may start to self-medicate with stimulants.

While self-medication seems like a good idea and appears to improve the situation, in the end it also worsens it. It may very well be that mild mental illness causes a person to turn to substances. 

This, in turn, creates a more severe disorder.

Look after your head. 

You need it!

Make positive choices

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