Five common mental disorders associated with substance abuse

mental disorders associated


Substance abuse and mental health have a close link with one another. Statistics prove that about 7 million people engulfed by substance abuse have a co-occurring disorder. Dealing with substance abuse in unison with mental health is extremely difficult. In situations where a person has a substance abuse disorder and mental illness, the unique symptoms of the conditions interact with each other. The effect of the symptoms snowballs and impact their ability to go forward with their normal life. You may struggle to concentrate on your studies, work, take care of your family, and manage your relationships. People also develop self-destructive habits and harm themselves or their loved ones.

Why do substance abuse and mental health issue occur together?

Instances when two conditions, such as mental health issues and substance abuse co-exist, are called comorbidity. It means that people dealing with addiction often have veiled or clear mental health issues.  While one issue might not cause the other, they can strengthen the symptoms and chances of occurrence of each other.

Drugs can take you to a different world where you forget about your current issues. So, it is likely that people resort to drugs to rid of or avoid their issues. People also use these drugs as a form of self-medication or to experience the sensations.

The issue of mental health and co-occurring disorders has become a serious matter. But ironically, only 7 percent of the people get treatment for both conditions. Even more alarming is that 60% of the people never get treatment for any of these conditions. These people not only expose themselves to society’s vulnerabilities, but their impulsivity and often violent attitude can be dangerous for others too. 

Rehabs like Delphi Health Group are making the utmost effort to spread awareness about the issue and provide expert guidance to bring people back to normal lives. The dedicated therapy programs focus on treating substance abuse issues and co-occurring disorders. In order to know more about substance abuse and mental health issues, it is essential to know the mental health issues associated with it.

  • Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder may show symptoms when someone starts taking drugs or remains high on them. It is a depressive disorder but needs special mention because of its profound impact on the life of an addict. On the contrary, bipolar disorder can also lead people toward substance abuse. A study found that people with bipolar disorder have 56% more chances to resort to substance abuse.

In bipolar disorder, a person experiences extreme mood swings. The highs and lows of emotions of such a person are also extreme. The affected person may swing between depressive episodes (lows) and manic episodes (highs). Feeling low means you may lose your interest in life and its activities, with hopelessness and sadness engulfing your entire self. On the contrary, emotional highs are characterized by feeling extreme bouts of energy, excitement, and even irritability with people and things around you. These mood swings are not healthy for the person experiencing them, affecting their appetite, sleep, behavior, and interaction ability.

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  • Major Depression

It is a common mental health issue associated with substance health abuse and a leading cause of disability worldwide. In 2020, major depression caused more than 7% of adults and 13% of adolescents (between 12 and 17 years of age) in the US to experience a spell of major depression. But alarmingly, 35% of adults and 60% of adolescents never get any treatment for this disorder.

It can intensify feelings of helplessness, loneliness, and sadness. Major depression can affect many physical functions, such as appetite and sleep, along with causing behavioral changes. However, if people resort to treating this condition, they can learn to cope with it and go about their life normally. Some methods of treating major depression include medication and psychotherapy.

  • Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are even more prevalent than major depression. This is because many other issues come under the umbrella of anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and phobia. People with anxiety disorder experience shortness of breath, insomnia, nausea, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, stomach ache, trembling, sweating, or clamminess.

In some cases, people with a prior anxiety disorder struggle to deal with symptoms. But when the symptoms become unbearable, they resort to taking drugs as a coping mechanism. The National Institute on Drug Abuse projects that people with anxiety are two times more likely to take solace in substance abuse.  Drugs and alcohol intensity the symptoms of the anxiety disorder. The result is a vicious cycle with more dependence on the substance and other chemicals of abuse.

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

This condition includes racing thoughts, impulsive and volatile behavior, and restlessness. Therefore, people with ADHD face trouble getting rid of their symptoms and take refuge in drugs and substance abuse. However, their symptoms become more severe with time, accompanied by perpetual dependence on the substance. A study found that 15% of the people with this disorder have some kind of dependence on a substance. Moreover, 70% of these people turn to alcohol and drugs to cope with their symptoms. Studies have also shown that ADHD is 5 to10% more prevalent in people with alcoholism, and 25% of the adults treated for substance abuse and alcoholism are found to have ADHD.  

Personality Disorders

People with personality disorders have a non-flexible way of looking at and perceiving the world. Hence, people with such distorted views have more chances of turning to substance abuse. Studies reveal that people with personality disorders have a 72% risk of developing substance abuse disorder at any time in their lives. Antisocial personality disorder, one of the personality disorders, has the highest risk of developing substance abuse problems. But people with this problem do not get any treatment, and when they do, they never fulfill all the requirements and finish the treatment. In the case of comorbidity of personality disorder and substance abuse, psychotherapy is used as a treatment. 


Drug abuse is a menace in itself, but it seldom stays alone. Mental health issues and drug abuse have a unique push and pull toward each other where one can cause or amplify the symptoms of the other. But whether they occur alone or together, getting proper treatment must be a priority. As soon as you see mental health issues or substance abuse symptoms in your loved one, you must contact the designated substance abuse center for an early diagnosis and treatment.

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