There are a few habits that are harder to get rid of than the habit of abusing substances. This is because chronic substance abuse often turns into an addiction. While addiction cannot occur unless someone makes the initial choice to drink or use drugs, there are plenty of factors at play that make the choice to abuse substances early impossible to resist. One of the most influential factors that cause addiction is mental illness.
Many people with mental illnesses use substances to help them cope with their negative thoughts and emotions. As a result, mental illness is often a catalyst for addiction. This is especially true amongst young adults today who appear to be more affected by mental illnesses than any of the generations before them.
In honor of World Mental Health Day, we at Free by the Sea are going to discuss the effects of substance abuse and mental illness on people young and old. We are also going to discuss how addiction and mental illness can occur simultaneously within the same person.
With this information, we hope to educate you on mental illness and the ways that it can destroy your life if left untreated. We also hope that, through this information, you can recognize whether or not you or a loved one is suffering from a mental illness and/or substance use disorder. If you find out that you are, Free by the Sea is here to help you overcome your illnesses.
Effects of Substance Abuse
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Once substance abuse becomes chronic, it can take over your life and ruin your relationships with other people. This is because addiction to substances negatively affects you physically, mentally, behaviorally, and socially. Don’t believe us? Read on to find out all the ways that substance abuse can negatively affect your life.
Physical Effects of Substance Abuse
- Kidney damage
- Heart disease
- Trouble breathing
- Liver disease
- Digestive issues
- Changes in appetite
- Heart palpitations
- Sudden weight loss or gain
- Weakened immune system
Mental Effects of Substance Abuse
- Inability to concentrate
- Poor memory
- Brain damage
Behavioral Effects of Substance Abuse
- Poor judgment
- Excessive lying
- No longer caring about work or school
- Lack of personal hygiene
Social Effects of Substance Abuse
- Change in social circle
- Lack of personal hygiene
- No longer caring about work or school
- No longer enjoying activities that you once enjoyed
- Getting in arguments with your family and friends
Effects of Mental Illness
Mental illness comes in many forms. Some of the most common forms of mental illness include depression, anxiety, PTSD, and OCD.
Due to the different forms that mental illness can come in, the symptoms of mental illness can vary. As a result, mental illness can be hard to detect at first. To make matters worse, even when mental illness is diagnosed, many people suffering from it are so embarrassed that they do not seek out treatment.
That’s why it’s so important to gain education about mental illness and its effects. Hopefully, through the spread of such education, we can remove the stigma associated with mental health disorders.
Some common symptoms that occur across multiple different mental health disorders include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Sex drive changes
- Suicidal thoughts
- Heart palpitations
- Heart disease
- Excessive sleeping
- Disconnection with reality
- Extreme mood changes
- Excessive fear, worry, or guilt
- Persistent feelings of sadness
Alcohol Addiction and Mental Illness
According to the Mental Health Foundation, alcohol consumption has doubled in the past 50 years. As a result, over 90% of adolescents and adults ages 16-64 currently report to drinking at least occasionally.
With the increase in alcohol consumption, also comes an increase in alcohol abuse. In fact, reports show that in 2014, as many as 20.2 million Americans suffered from a substance use disorder.
Along with the increase in substance abuse in recent years, is an increase in people in the world with mental illnesses. This should be no surprise since mental illness is often a catalyst for substance abuse. In fact, in the year 2014, as many as 7.9 million people with a substance use disorder also suffered from a mental health disorder.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, at 4.1 million, more than half of the people with both a substance use disorder and a mental illness in 2014 were men. Some of the most common mental health disorders that cause both men and women to develop alcohol addiction include anxiety disorders and mood disorders. The same is true when it comes to which mental health disorders most cause people to develop an alcohol addiction.
In fact, the odds of developing an anxiety disorder are 2.6 times more likely if you already have a dependency on alcohol. The odds of developing a mood disorder are 3.6 times more likely if you have a dependency on alcohol.
Drug Addiction and Mental Illness
According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, substance use was more common amongst adolescents and adults with mental health disorders than in the past. This is partly because adolescents with mental health disorders were more likely to binge drink and use illicit drugs. The percentage of adults with mental illness that abused substances was also higher than the percentage of adults without mental illness that abused substances.
What is Dual Diagnosis?
A dual diagnosis is a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder that occur in the same person at the same time. Such dual diagnoses occur due to the fact that addiction and mental illness are so incredibly intertwined with one another.
Dual Diagnoses Amongst Millennials
There are multiple factors that cause young adults today to struggle with both substance use disorders and mental health disorders. Some of these factors include experiencing increased debt, a fluctuating economy, a polarizing social and political climate, and traumatic world events such as 9/11 and the current epidemic within their childhood and young adulthood. In fact, in a recent national survey done by Blue Cross Blue Shield, only 49% of millennials said that they had good or excellent mental health.
Due to the hardships that millennials face, they often contain feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and excessive worry. These persistent feelings then lend themselves to developing full-blown mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. As a result, 12% of millennials today are diagnosed with anxiety disorders. Many others are currently diagnosed with depression or other mental illnesses.
With so many millennials diagnosed with mental health disorders, doctors are prescribing them countless antidepressants and other mental illness and pain medications. This is a problem, as many doctors are overprescribing certain highly addictive medications, such as opioids, to help millennials cope with their mental illness symptoms. This is part of the reason why so many millennials are now addicted to prescription drugs.
Prescription drugs aren’t the only substances that millennials are addicted to. With so many millennials suffering from mental illness, many of them start abusing illicit drugs to cope as well. Some of these illicit drugs include marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. Before you know it, there is a dual diagnosis problem made of substance addiction and mental illness amongst millennials.
Dual Diagnosis Amongst Generation Z
Similar to millennials, older members of Generation Z are also suffering from substance use disorders at increasing rates. In fact, the death rates from drug overdose increased by 19.75% in people ages 15 – 24 from 2006 to 2015. Many of these deaths were as a result of prescription drug abuse. Many members of Generation Z are also abusing illicit drugs.
Once again, the increasing rates of drug addiction and mental illness amongst older members of Generation Z should not surprise anyone. This is because mental illness often causes young people to abuse substances. In fact, according to the American Psychology Association, Generation Z is more likely to report their mental health as fair or poor than both millennials and Generation X.
There is Still Hope
While the rates of substance abuse and mental illness are higher amongst millennials and Generation Z than in previous years, there is still hope that things will get better. This hope comes from the fact that many young people are putting forth the effort to remove the stigma associated with mental illness. This is evident in the fact that, according to a survey done by American University, most millennials are willing to make friends, work with, date, or even vote for someone with a mental illness.
One way that young people are decreasing the stigma associated with mental illness is by starting conversations about mental health through efforts like World Mental Health Day. Hopefully, through such efforts, the stigma associated with mental illness can decrease to the point where there is no shame in receiving treatment. That, combined with more mental illness treatment programs being made available, will hopefully reduce the rates of mental illness altogether.
Receive the Best Addiction and Mental Health Treatment at Free by the Sea
At Free by the Sea, we understand the correlation between substance addiction and mental illness. That’s why we provide dual diagnosis treatment for a wide range of addictions and mental illness combinations.
To make receiving treatment at Free by the Sea even better, our facility is located on 5 acres of beautiful, secluded waterfront property along the southwest Washington coast. That way you can receive treatment for your addiction and mental illness in a serene environment without big-city distractions.
When you aren’t attending treatment, you can even workout or have some fun at our facility’s gym, volleyball court, basketball court, or any of our other facility amenities. To learn more about Free by the Sea, and the treatment services that we offer, contact us today.
Dr. Richard Crabbe joined our team in 2019 as our psychiatrist and medical director. He attended the University of Ghana Medical School where he became a Medical Doctor in 1977. From 1978 through 1984, he was a medical officer in the Ghana Navy and provided a variety of services from general medicine to surgeries. He received his Certificate in General Psychology from the American Board of Psychology and Neurology in 2002.