Do you ever feel like you’re using drugs or alcohol to get some relief from stress? Have you ever found that you need some sort of drug or alcoholic stimulation to getting around to your regular activities? Have you ever had the people you spend a lot of time with suggest that you cut it back with alcohol or drug intake?
If you find yourself answering yes to these questions, it might be worth considering that you’ve been using these substances to suppress a co-occurring mental health problem. Studies show that people who suffer from an anxiety or mood disorder (such as depression, bipolar disorder and mania) are twice as likely than the general population to have a co-occurring problem with drug addiction (See Source). Other mental health disorders that show a similar concurrence with substance abuse include antisocial personality disorder and conduct disorder. There are many reasons why this may be the case: for instance, drug abuse may bring out the symptoms of other mental illness. Conversely, mental health disorders may also bring about drug abuse: possibly as a means of self-medication.
While it is important to get prescribed medication for the mental health disorders you may be suffering from, it is imperative to ensure that you don’t self-medicate. Medication used to treat mental health disorders are usually psychotropic, they affect the chemicals in your brain. The substances you may use to get some relief from your stress or circumstances follow the same principle, they work by fluctuating the levels of the different chemicals in your brain. However, in the case of self-medicating individuals, unregulated and non-prescribed usage of psychotropic drugs can lead to a dependence, which then leads to an addiction.