How Drugs Affect Mental Health

Updated on October 27, 2019
mental health issues treatment

When a person has a mental health issue, like bipolar disorder, depression, or anxiety and a substance abuse problem, it’s called dual diagnosis or a co-occurring disorder. Addressing alcoholism, drug addiction, or substance abuse alone is not easy. Therefore, the situation is more difficult when a person has a drug addiction and mental health issues.

When an individual has a co-occurring disorder, they face unique symptoms of both alcohol or drug addiction and the mental health problem. These symptoms can hinder them from functioning properly at school or work, maintain a stable life at home, relate to other people, and handle difficult situations in life.

The situation becomes more complex when co-occurring disorders affect each other. It’s this complication that prompts individuals to Google ‘which addiction recovery facility near me offers dual diagnosis?’ If a person with co-occurring disorders doesn’t get treatment, their substance use disorder gets worse. When drug or alcohol abuse increases, a mental health issue escalates too.

Prevalence of Co-Occurring Mental Health and Substance Use Problems

When diagnosed with co-occurring mental health issues and substance abuse problems, you don’t have to feel alone. This condition is more common than most people realize.

Research has shown that:

  • Substance abuse problems affect almost 50% of individual adults with severe mental disorders.
  • About 37% of people with an alcohol abuse problem and 53% of drug abusers have at least one severe mental illness.
  • Out of all people with mental illness, 29% abuse drugs or alcohol.

When ignored, mental health and substance abuse problems will only get worse. However, it’s possible to overcome an alcohol or drug addiction and get treatment for co-occurring disorders. That’s the only way to reclaim your self-sense and get back on track.

Effects of Drugs on Mental Health

If you or a person you love is abusing drugs, don’t wait for something to happen to start searching ‘the best drug rehab near me’ online. Instead, act before drugs affect their mental health. Continued or chronic drugs use leads to long-term and short-term brain changes. These changes are the cause of mental health issues like anxiety, depression, paranoia, hallucinations, aggression, and many more problems.

In most cases, drug addicts have mental disorders and people with mental issues have addictions to some drugs. Drug addicts are about twice likely to have anxiety and mood disorders when compared to the general population. And the reverse is equally true.

It’s estimated that 43.4 million adults aged 18 years and above or 17.9% had some mental illnesses apart from substance use or developmental disorder. Out of these, 8.1 million adults had a mental illness and substance use disorder.

It’s common for mental illnesses and substance use disorders to co-occur. However, it’s often unclear if one causes the other or whether there are common underlying factors that cause both disorders.

How Different Drugs Affect Mental Health

How different drugs affect mental health can vary from one person to another. Here are some of the ways different drugs affect mental health.


Some people use marijuana to feel happy or relaxed. However, this drug can make the user feel paranoid and anxious. In some cases, users experience unreal things. This is known as drug-induced psychosis. Psychosis risk is higher when marijuana is used frequently for a long time or when a person uses high-strength cannabis.


Alcohol can make some mental illnesses worse. Its long-term effects depend on several factors including the amount a person drinks and their consumption frequency. Excessive and regular drinking can lead to mental harm. Alcohol consumption can also make recovering from a mental illness difficult. Nevertheless, you can find a facility that helps with alcoholism treatment and recovery by searching ‘alcohol and drug rehabs near me’.

Methamphetamine and Amphetamine

These drugs make the user feel alert and wide awake. Consequently, sleeping or relaxing becomes difficult. In some cases, users experience a drug-induced psychosis. The long-term effects of their use include depression and anxiety. These drugs are addictive and when a person stops using them can feel depressed and have difficulties trying to sleep.


Research has shown that cocaine has intermediate-term alterations on the functioning of the brain cells. For instance, this drug alters the number of dopamine receptors and dopamine transporters in the nerve cells. That’s why cocaine makes the user feel confident, awake and talkative. But, when its effects start wearing off, the user feels depressed and tired. Cocaine is addictive. The long-term effects of its use include depression, anxiety, and paranoia.


Heroin makes a person feel calm and relaxed. It can also relieve pain and make the user feel sleepy. However, overdose risk is very high for heroin. This drug is addictive with long-term effects. When a person stops taking heroin, they can have difficulties trying to sleep or feel depressed. Since heroin is addictive, it can become important than most things in the life of the user. This can make keeping a job or healthy relationships harder.


Ecstasy makes the user feel confident, chatty, and energetic. In some cases, it makes a person feel confused and anxious. It can also cause drug-induced psychosis. A long-term user of ecstasy can cause anxiety and depression. Some users end up with memory problems.


Major tranquilizers are antipsychotic medications. A minor tranquilizer is a drug that can make a person unaware of their surroundings. But, these drugs are highly addictive. It’s therefore easy to find a person with tranquilizer addiction asking, ‘where do I find drug counseling near me?’

The short-term effects of these drugs include making a person feel calmer. But, depending on the type that a person takes, they can feel moody or confused. Their long-term effects include addiction that affects most aspects of daily life.

The Bottom Line

Different drugs affect mental health differently. If any or some of these drugs have already affected your mental health, it means you have a co-occurring or dual diagnosis. It’s, therefore, important to seek treatment in a facility that offers treatment for substance use disorder and mental illnesses. Simply search ‘dual diagnosis inpatient drug rehab near me’ online. The search engine will list many rehab centers in your area where you can undergo treatment for both substance use disorder and mental health problems.

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