5 Ways How Substance Abuse Affects Mental Health

5 Ways How Substance Abuse Affects Mental Health

Here’s some helpful information on the ways substance abuse affects mental health and what you can do to help a beloved addict in need of support.

Have you ever wondered why people abuse addictive substances, such as cocaine, alcohol, and methamphetamine, despite knowing the adverse side effects?

One of the reasons is they don’t have substantial control over their actions. As a result, they continue to fulfill their addiction – until they can’t anymore.

In some cases, they stop when they lack the money and resources to purchase substances. In other words, they can’t access excess substances, given legal restrictions, their financial situation, etc. Whatever the case, all of this happens after great turmoil in their lives and lots of damage to their health.

The effects of substance abuse extend to many areas of life:

  • emotional
  • physical
  • psychological
  • private
  • social

With this in mind, before it’s too late, you should do what you can to help addicts from this multifaceted devastation.

No worries! I’m here to help.

As you might know, I am the bestselling wellness author of many books – including one all about habit formation called Happy Habits. Plus I founded the groundbreaking video course The Anxiety Cure and a course on food addictions called Stop Emotional Eating.

I’m always happy to share insights and strategies to help as many people as possible to stay calm healthy, happy. Plus I love to share strategies to avoid challenging events in the first place.

With this in mind I put together this quick guide for preventing the consumption of life-threatening substances – and to share more about the challenges of substance abuse on psychological health.

5 Ways How Substance Abuse Affects Mental Health

Below you’ll learn the main ways substance abuse affects the mental health of abusers.

1. Memory impairment

Sleep is a crucial mechanism for repairing and restoring compromised parts or functions of the human body and is also essential to improving the brain’s storage capacity.

However, substance addiction interferes with the healthy functions of the brain; memory impairment is one.

Scientifically, sleep and memory have a single thread connection, which means chemicals from substances interfere with the sleep cycle and disturb sleep routine. Substance abuse keeps the brain on high alert by alleviating dopamine levels in the body.

Consequently, the brain does not signal the production of serotonin, the chemical responsible for inducing sleep, until its level normalizes. In severe cases, abusers become sleep-deprived. Fortunately, personalized rehabilitation options can help with addiction and minimize its symptoms.

However, the process of normality and sobriety is demanding. It means addicts will not experience a dramatic change in their behavior or sleep pattern. Instead, they will feel attracted to substances and savor their rapidly engulfing impact even during treatment.

Hence, abiding by the treatment requirements and experts’ guidelines is crucial to regain memory functionality.

2. Paranoia

Paranoia is also one of the consequences of substance abuse on an addict’s mental health. The symptom arises by consuming addictive drugs and substances, including alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, and bath salts.

It is a feeling where an addict experiences intensive fear, distrust, and danger from surrounding and people. As a result, they cannot even rely on their loved ones and remain engulfed in anxiousness all the time.

They perceive that people are plotting to endanger them somehow. They also have low self-assurance and confidence, preventing addicts from interacting with people, even their loved ones.

When these symptoms worsen, abusers may endanger themselves while fighting or preventing imaginative threats.

In such cases, they may require inpatient treatment in a rehabilitation facility. While staying in the facility and under experts’ vigilance, patients will feel more secure and protected from imaginative danger. 

However, support and comfort from family and social circle are equally vital. They have to strengthen their interaction with the patients so that patients can regain confidence and overcome paranoia.

3. Advances in mental health problems

Generally, people consume addictive substances to manage other issues, such as stress or other health problems.

In such cases, they fall into addiction in the pursuit of self-medication. Some even jump into the mess out of curiosity or social influence. They might get detained in a facility or mental institute, also known as the Baker act.

Regardless of the reasons, routine consumption helps them achieve transitory relief, and eventually, it devours them completely. And one of the devastating effects of substance abuse is the advancement of mental health issues.

According to drug abuse organizations, abusers are two times more likely to suffer from co-existing mental issues like anxiety than the rest of the population. Thus addicts are more likely to develop several psychological complications at a time.

For instance, disorders like anxiety, depression, amnestic, psychotic, delirium, and substance abuse can co-exist, which means a common thread leads these conditions to occur and worsen over time.

Hence, treating them is only possible if the rehabilitator knows the exact cause behind substance abuse.

4. Alleviated emotional instability

Mood changes are a natural phenomenon of the human psyche. People experience a variety of emotions, given changes in situations and their environment. However, people struggling with substance abuse experience dramatic versions of mood changes, abruptly and impulsively.

Specifically, their mood always keeps swinging between extremes while they’re under the influence of chemicals. Sometimes, they exhibit uncontrollable aggression, erratic behavior, impulsiveness, or lack of self-restrain.

  • Impulsive behavior in return pushes them towards consuming more substances.
  • Other times, they feel insignificant and gloomy.

One of the common reasons behind such changes is that substance intake readily affects sleep regularity, leading to sleep deprivation and higher anxiousness.

Once sleep irregularity and stress become a part of an addict’s routine, things start to worsen rapidly.

In the end, abusers become emotionally unstable even when there is no fight or flight situation. Once the impact of chemicals subsides, they appear more depressed and isolated.

Eventually, alleviated emotional instability can lead to further mental issues, such as anxiety disorder, depression, and bipolar disorder.

5. Impaired judgment and hallucination

The side effects of addictive substances or drugs also coincide with the side effects of other therapeutic drugs. However, their impact is more severe, wide-ranging, and prolonged.

As such, some addictive drugs or substances alter consumers’ perceptions about their surroundings, leading to hallucinations, which is why addicts experience themselves in a self-made domain while they are high.

In some cases, addicts don’t even feel connected to their surroundings or bodies.

Scientifically, addictive substances interfere with the brain’s information processing ability, preventing the brain from deciding wisely whether or when to trigger a specific body function.

As a result, there is either a higher or lower level of neurotransmitters. The imbalance also affects neurotransmitters’ interaction and information sharing, causing hallucinations.

Likewise, they also hear imaginative voices, perceive objects or people, and even interact with whatever they believe is happening.

Though hallucination is one of the severe representations, abusers also experience judgment problems. As a result, they fail even in carefully calculated actions by acting awkward and disoriented.

Conclusion on Substance Abuse & Mental Health

No doubt, substance abuse exhibits visible symptoms of deteriorating well-being of abusers. Yet, they struggle to withdraw from their addiction because of chemicals’ overwhelming and lasting impact on their bodies.

Thus seeking immediate help and practicing abstinence is crucial to withdraw addiction. Otherwise, mere addiction will worsen into several mental health issues that can be challenging to manage.

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