According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, approximately 37 percent of alcohol abusers and 53 percent of drug abusers also have at least one serious mental illness.
If you or someone you care about is currently struggling with addiction, it is important to know the impact substance abuse has on one’s mental health and how to take effective steps toward recovery.
How Addiction Affects the Brain
Substance abuse impacts the brain on multiple levels. Take alcohol, for example. It is a depressant that cause disruptions in the balance of the brain, affecting one’s thoughts, feelings, and actions – and, in some cases, one’s long-term mental health.
Likewise, stimulants, opioids, and sedatives contain chemical compounds that enter the brain or bloodstream, and once they do, they can cause a person lose control of their impulses and/or crave a harmful substance. Drugs alter neurotransmitters (nerve cells that send, receive, and process information) by imitating the brain’s natural chemical messenger, overstimulating the brain’s “reward circuit,” and overwhelming the brain with excess chemicals that bind to receptors in the brain.
Over time, the consistent use of drugs and alcohol can create psychological distress ranging, from mild to serious. In fact, individuals afflicted with mood or anxiety disorders are twice as likely to also be suffering from a substance abuse disorder – and vice versa. What’s more, those who use drugs to self-medicate the symptoms of mental health problems often end up increasing the underlying risk for mental health disorders and activate new symptoms, including anxiety, depression, aggression, paranoia, depression, hallucinations, and other mental health problems.
How Do You Know If You or a Loved One Have a Substance Abuse Problem?
The signs and symptoms of a substance abuse problem can range from subtle or obvious. These include:
- Taking a drug after it is no longer needed for a health problem.
- Craving increasing amounts of a substance to get the same effects.
- Feeling shaky, depressed, sick to your stomach, sweaty, confused, fevered, or otherwise off-kilter when the alcohol or drugs wear off.
- Being unable to stop yourself from using a substance – even if it is leading to problems in your life with your family, friends, work, or the law.
- Spending a lot of time thinking about getting more of the substance and how much better it will make you feel.
- Losing interest in things you once enjoyed doing and having difficulty engaging in your daily activities.
Substance Abuse Treatment Near Me in Danville, Martinsville, and Richmond, Virginia
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, it’s good to know that there is counseling near you at EPIC Health Partners.
Our Addiction Recovery and Treatment Services (ARTS) is an outpatient-based program not only focused on the reduction of moderate to severe substance use, but also designed to increase knowledge of substances while introducing coping skills and increasing linkage with local community resources. The program utilizes evidence-based interventions with an emphasis on wellness, recovery, and resiliency.