The Act of Self-HarmApril 9, 2019
Men & Mental HealthApril 15, 2019
Because the end of June marks SANCA’s Drug Awareness Week
, we’ve decided to take a closer
look at substance abuse in relation to mental health. In our post about dual diagnosis
how people suffering from a mental illness develops a substance abuse problem as a result of that
mental health condition. Research suggest that pairing can be found between certain disorders
. For example, depression and alcoholism, or anxiety and opiates. The challenge
with dual diagnosis
is that it’s difficult to tell whether the mental condition came first and then
led to substance abuse as a coping mechanism, or whether the abuse of substances brought on the
onset of mental illness. This is because both are present by the time people seek help. So in this
post we’d like to take that a bit further by considering whether the short- and long-term effects of drug abuse impacts the mind
when no mental health condition is present.
The Effects of Substance Abuse Substance abuse is known to have several negative long-term effects on the body as well as the mind.
Problems with physical health include heart disease and liver damage, while mental illnesses like
depression and anxiety are more likely to develop. One thing that’s certain, whether physical or
mental, the effects of drug addiction takes years to recede, if at all.
Short termAlcohol: slurred speech, coordination problems, impaired judgement, and mood swings.Hallucinogens: hallucinations, rapid heartbeat, dilated pupils, intense anxiety or depression, and
impaired motor control.Opiates: pinhole pupils, slurred speech, itchy skin, dysphoria, drowsiness, and vomiting.
Long term On the bodyAbuse of stimulants, like cocaine, can lead to heart disease and infections in the vessels
of the heart.Opiates aggravate asthma, while other drugs that are smoked can lead to lung cancer,
chronic bronchitis, or emphysema.Heroin and opiates cause liver damage, and most drugs destroy the kidneys because of
constant dehydration and increased body temperature.
On the brainCognitive function is impaired and thinking becomes more difficult.Memory and learning is affected, craving the drug is conditioned into brain.Connections between neurons are modified in some places, and destroyed in others.Brain cells are killed by drug toxicity.
The Indirect Consequences of Substance Abuse
Taking the above into consideration, there is evidence to suggest that substance abuse can trigger
mental health problems
. And in cases where mental illness exists, addiction can worsen it.
Research has shown that the most lasting consequences of addiction are depression and
anxiety. Which brings us to the indirect effects of substance abuse – the impact it has on someone’s
life, not because of the substances but because of how the addiction changes that person
Dr. Erwin Lass details the stages of addiction and recovery in his article about substance abuse
Here the importance of family support
is underscored as vital to recovery. One of the main
reasons for this, is that during the struggle with addiction the addict tends to make choices
that are harmful or could even endanger their life. This then leads to the breakdown of
relationships and leaves the addict isolated.
Some repercussions of bad decisions include criminal behaviour, promiscuity and unprotected
sex, financial instability, and relationship problems. Along with this, it becomes increasingly
difficult to hold down a job or if the addict is younger, keep up at school. As a result, addicts find
themselves jobless, out of school, with their whole lives falling apart around them. And this is
why it’s so important to reach out if you or someone you know is struggling with drug abuse. At
ZwavelStream Clinic we have experts in the treatment and support for addiction, and the sooner
you get in touch
with us, the sooner you can get your life back on track.