How Mental Health Issues Can Lead to Substance Abuse

Mental health issues, also known as mental health disorders, can include a wide range of conditions that affect a person’s mood, thinking, and behavior. When left untreated, they can lead to those individuals abusing substances and developing what is called a Substance Use Disorder (SUD).  This phenomenon is often referred to as “self-medication,” where individuals use substances such as drugs and alcohol to alleviate or cope with the symptoms of their mental health condition. Here are some situations in which untreated mental health issues can lead to substance abuse: Symptom Relief People with mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, or bipolar disorder, might turn to substances in an attempt to manage or temporarily relieve their symptoms. For example, someone with anxiety might use alcohol to calm their nerves, while someone with depression might use stimulants to feel more energetic. Emotional Escape Substances can provide a temporary escape from emotional pain or distress. Individuals struggling with overwhelming feelings might use drugs or alcohol to numb their emotions or avoid dealing with their problems. Social Factors Mental health disorders can lead to social isolation or difficulties in social interactions. Some individuals might use substances to feel more comfortable in social settings or to fit in with peers who are also using substances. Reward System Mental health disorders can disrupt the brain’s reward system, making it more difficult for individuals to experience pleasure from everyday activities. Substances can artificially stimulate the brain’s reward pathways, providing a sense of pleasure or euphoria that might be lacking in their daily lives. Lack of Access to Treatment In some cases, individuals might not have access to appropriate mental health treatment or might not seek help due to stigma or other barriers. As a result, they might turn to substances as a way to self-manage their symptoms. Getting Help Is Essential Unfortunately, while substances might provide temporary relief, they often exacerbate mental health symptoms in the long run and can lead to substance use disorder. This creates a vicious cycle where the mental health condition and substance use disorder feed into each other, making both conditions more challenging to treat. Effective treatment for individuals with both mental health disorder and substance use disorder requires an integrated approach that addresses both simultaneously. Comprehensive care, including behavioral therapies, medication-assisted treatment, and support groups, can help individuals break the cycle and achieve lasting recovery. Treatment at The MODE If you or someone you know is currently using substances as well as struggling with their mental health, it’s important to reach out for professional help sooner rather than later to prevent the development of a co-occuring disorders. The MODE – Addiction Treatment Center in Akron, has licensed counselors who can provide you or your loved one with a clinical assessment to help diagnose a condition and recommend the best course of action.  With decades of experience (both lived and helped), our support staff are unlike any other in the Akron metro area. Contact us to talk with one of our recovery experts and start getting the help you deserve today.

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