Social Work Programs

May 20, 2012

The Relation Between Drug Use And Mental Illness

Filed under: drug use and mental illness — Tags: — admin @ 11:10 pm

drug use and mental illness1 In 2002, it was noted that more than 4 million adults in the US had a serious drug addiction along with some form of mental condition. Researchers noted that existing undiagnosed mental condition could result in a patient into using drugs due to poor mental coordination and disorganized emotional processing. It was also noted that long term use of drugs along with contributing genetic and environmental factors could result in physical and psychological changes that manifest as mental illnesses.

Almost every drug has some side effects. Researchers already know that prolonged or long term use of psychostimulants will alter the state of the mind especially in patients who have undiagnosed bipolar disorders. The drugs can exacerbate the symptoms resulting in dangerous behavior in the individual. A large range of recreational drugs are also known to cause a similar problem. Drugs that are known to induce states such as paranoia or possible hallucinations include amphetamine, cocaine, cannabis, LSD and ketamine.


The exact long term effect of the drug will depend on several factors such as the type of drug, the amount taken, the mixture of drugs that is used, frequency of use, the environment and social situation and the addict’s mental state of mind. A few individuals develop full blown psychosis while others only develop mild symptoms that can be treated.

MDMA or Ecstasy abuse can result in a long term deficiency of serotonin in the brain. This contributes to depression and can cause long standing anxiety, depression and even panic attacks.

Marijuana is considered to be one of the most commonly used and safe recreational drugs in the US. In recent years, use of the drug has increased considerably too but this drug also has a tendency to worsen existing psychotic symptoms. Some experts say that around 8%-13% of existing schizophrenia cases are caused due to marijuana/cannabis use. Others say, much more research needs to be done.

Cocaine use can cause depression, anxiety, paranoia and panic attacks. Long term use can cause brain damage, loss of energy, akathisia or intense restlessness.

Methadone can cause severe depression that may result in suicidal feelings.

Anabolic steroids also work in the same way causing lethargy, depression and suicidal feelings.

Coping and Support

It is important for any addict to stop using drug as quickly as possible and get support through rehab, counseling and/or meetings. The relation between mental illness and drug use is complex and many times people do not know that they have an underlying diagnosis or that there are mental health issues in the family.

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