July 31, 2023 admin No Comments

Understanding the Impact of Substance Abuse

Substance abuse occurs when you use alcohol, medicines, and other legal and illegal substances a lot or in a  hazardous way. Substance abuse is a way of drug usage that results in highly significant problems like losing interest in work or school and ultimately not attending it or completing basic tasks like driving a vehicle.

Substance abuse is different from addiction. Many people with substance abuse overcome this problem and can change their unhealthy behavior. Whereas Addiction is a disease, in which you can’t stop using even when your condition causes you harm.

Causes of Substance Abuse

The cause of substance is not very clear, although many factors are believed to play a role in this such as Heredity (genetics), people with family members with this problem are at more risk of experiencing this than others. Factors such as their regular environment can also affect this problem like school, work, friends, family, and cultural and religious beliefs. Recreational use usually starts in small doses with occasional use and increases over time to frequent use and sometimes abuse disorder.


  • Cravings to consume the substance
  • Getting  angry or defensive when someone makes remarks about the usage of a substance
  • feeling bad or guilty after using  about substance
  • Unable to complete daily tasks and assignments at work, college, or school
  • The constant need to use the substance to get wanted after effects
  • Being unable to stop consuming the substance or decrease the amount being used.
  • Creating the habit of using the substance first thing in the day
  • Using substances to cause impairment in dangerous situations, like driving.

Impact of Substance Abuse on Mental Health

Substance use can cause changes in the brain and disrupt areas that are the same as in other mental disorders, such as schizophrenia, anxiety, mood, or impulse-control disorders. Drug use can create changes in brain structure which can result in the first symptoms of a mental illness.  It can also fuel the function that kindles an underlying predisposition to develop that mental illness.

There is a direct connection between substance addiction and mental illness. Substance abuse can also trigger anxiety and depression, and a person who is already suffering from anxiety and depression has more chance of becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol. Depression is an illness that can make you lose interest in activities you used to enjoy before and cause feelings of deep sadness. It can lead to unnecessary problems in your personal and professional life, relationships, work, or school.

Anxiety is frequent worry and fear which is highly intense and persistent in everyday situations. These feelings are hardly controllable and disproportionate to the real danger. These illnesses can make you think as the only way to surpass these feelings is to consume substances. But, in reality, as soon as the effects of the substance go away, the person is usually left feeling way more sad and anxious than before, which can lead them to consume again and eventually create a vicious cycle of dependency.

There are numerous ways substances can affect your mental health. Some people suffer from long-term mental health problems due to excessive consumption of drugs and other substance use.

There are different kinds of substances that can cause similar symptoms as mental illnesses in a person and can also create mental health problems that were not previously there.

Regular use of cannabis increases the risk of anxiety or depression. There’s also a direct relation between strong cannabis usage and developing psychosis or schizophrenia. Stimulant drugs can lead you to be more and more depressed, anxious, and paranoid. Cocaine which is a type of stimulant can make previous mental health problems recur and trigger psychosis and schizophrenia. A person who uses Ecstasy can face memory problems.

Magic mushrooms are a kind of Hallucinogenic drug that can make any mental health issues worse. They can make you feel detached from your surroundings and cause flashbacks, which can be very scary and disturbing.

Mixing Hallucinogenic drugs with alcohol or other drugs can be very dangerous or even fatal if you take medication.

You may feel you’re no longer in control of your drug use or need to take more of it to feel the wanted effect. If that happens, this could mean that you are becoming addicted.

What is dual diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis simply means that a person is suffering from a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder simultaneously. Other names for dual diagnosis are co-occurring disorders and co-morbidity. A dual diagnosis is a combination of 2 different diagnoses.

Mental health disorders include various kinds of other mental health conditions including depression, anxiety and. A substance use disorder may involve a variety of addictive substances such as different kinds of drugs and alcohol. When these conditions occur together, the effects of each can be very dangerous for a person’s well-being.

How to overcome drug abuse and addiction?

Addiction to drugs is often considered a character flaw or a sign of weakness. But it’s not. It takes a lot more than just willpower to tackle the problem. Abusing illegal or certain prescription drugs can create changes in the brain which can cause powerful cravings and a high need to consume. It is so strong that it can make you feel that becoming sober is impossible. For many people recognizing the problem and deciding to make a change is the toughest step toward recovery. It’s very normal to feel uncertain about whether you’re ready to start recovery, or if you will ever be able to completely quit.

But the person that is struggling has to believe in themselves and also that no matter how hopeless the situation seems or how many times they’ve tried and failed before, with the correct treatment support, recovery is always possible.


Substance abuse and addiction have severe physical and mental health consequences. Differentiating substance abuse from addiction is crucial, as many can overcome abuse with proper support. Genetic, environmental, and social factors contribute to its cause. Recognizing symptoms, such as cravings and impaired functioning, helps prompt early intervention Alcohol and Drug Attitude Scale can be helpful as assessing attitudes can help identify vulnerable individuals and can help guide early interventions.

Substance abuse can exacerbate mental health issues, and mental health problems can fuel substance use, forming a vicious cycle. Dual diagnosis requires simultaneous treatment of both disorders. Overcoming addiction demands more than willpower; personalized treatment and support are vital. Recovery is possible with commitment, seeking help, and access to appropriate resources, offering a chance for a healthier, substance-free life.

Written by – Ms. Vaishali

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