How Can Drug Addiction Affect Mental Health?
Many addicts initially turn to drugs as a way to cope with stress or to feel the pleasure that some drugs induce. Since they are drawn in by the short-term effects, they may not always be considering the toll that this drug abuse is taking on their mental health, which can extend into their later life even after recovery begins.
Decreased Sensitivity to Pleasure
Different types of drugs will affect the chemicals of the brain in slightly different ways, but the fact remains that they are still altering a user’s brain. The pleasurable feeling that users will seek from specific drugs, such as cocaine, is due to the sudden release of dopamine it induces.
Hallucinogens, on the other hand, affect the brain’s serotonin levels. Whichever drug is being abused, over time the users brain will develop a tolerance for it, and this can present major mental health issues for the user.
According to the National Institute on Drug Addiction, a user with an addiction to cocaine or other type of stimulant will find over time that their sensitivity to pleasure decreases the more they abuse the drug.
Events in real life that should have made them happy, such as relationships, food, or other naturally-occurring dopamine releases, will no longer bring them pleasure.
Instead, they will turn to drugs in a hope to find that rewarding, pleasurable feeling. As intake of the drug increases, however, they will find it increasingly more difficult to achieve the desired feeling.
Increased Sensitivity to Stress
Stress is already a major factor for many people’s mental health, as it can make a person physically ill or present other issues. By adding a drug addiction into the mix, however, the situation becomes increasingly worse. Just as the user’s sensitivity to pleasure will decrease, at the same time their sensitivity to stress will increase.
In situations of stress, they will be more likely to turn to the drug rather than healthy stress-relieving methods. Even after recovery, stress is a major cause of relapse in the lives of former addicts. If you or a loved one is struggling with their addiction, just call to speak with a specialist.
According to the Mental Health branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, drug abuse and mental illnesses very often occur together. That kind of situation is called dual diagnosis. An example of dual diagnosis is if someone were to suffer from drug addiction and depression at the same time.
The reason that these two go hand-in-hand so often is because they can affect similar areas of the brain and can be brought on by similar circumstances, such as stress-related problems. Although one does not directly cause the other, they often can occur back-to-back because of the correlations between the two.
If you or a loved is struggling with drug addiction or dual diagnosis, just call to speak with a caring specialist who can answer any of your questions and concerns, and help you make the next step towards recovery.