Last Updated on December 10, 2019 by Valarie Ward
As more data is being collected, scientists, medical professionals and counselors are providing more and more research that shows the need to treat people who abuse drugs just as they would someone with a psychological or mental health disorder. We are seeing now more than ever the importance of a comprehensive system of care that is moving from just a simple assessment to a plan of action. From a recommendation to an actual diagnosis. Why do you think this is happening?
How Substance Abuse and Addictions Affect Brain Health
In its Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction report, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) shares how drugs affect the brain’s reward system, causing us to enter a state of euphoria. If someone continues to use drugs, the brain start to tell them to repeat the action because it is wired to want more of the pleasure. This is how people crave or become addicted to a substance.
While the addiction itself is not a mental health issue, the continued use of drugs leads to poor brain function, which can over time lead to depression, extreme behaviors, loss of critical thinking, and in some cases, chronic addiction.
How Mental Health Disorders Lead To Substance Abuse
So we see how drug use and abuse can cause mental health disorders, but did you know that mental health disorders, when untreated, often lead to substance abuse? Often people turn to drugs and alcohol to feel better when they are depressed, anxious, stressed or traumatized. This can be especially damaging to one’s health since the use of drugs lead to a never-ending cycle of dependence.
This link between mental health and substance abuse has made it necessary to focus more on the person’s health in order to provide adequate treatment. Treatment that involves everyone from doctors to counselors to a community of family and friends for support. If you know someone who is using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate a mental health disorder, or if you know or suspect someone you know of using drugs, please Call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Help Line at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).