Can Drug Abuse Lead to Mental Health Issues?

Mental Illnesses

Known as dual-diagnosis, it is not uncommon for addiction and mental illness to go hand in hand, although it is not always obvious which condition pre-existed the other. This is because although mental illness can lead to addictive behavior, addictive behavior can also lead to symptoms of mental disorder. There are also other factors that need to be considered on a patient-by-patient basis including education, socio-economic status, gender, their personal history and the substances used to determine the state of mental and physical health in relation to their addiction.

Diagnosing the Symptoms of Mental Illness

There are several ‘street’ or illegal drugs that can create the symptoms of mental illness; most commonly heroin, cocaine and amphetamines. These drugs interact directly with neurotransmitters in the brain and can replicate or mirror the symptoms of mental health conditions as severe as schizophrenia. This is particularly true of drugs that create a sense of paranoia or hallucinations as they can lead to extreme and often anti-social behavior.

Because many addicts fall into drug dependency as a result of mental illness whereas others suffer the effects of mental illness from substance abuse, there can be difficulty in obtaining an accurate diagnosis. People who have used hallucinogenic drugs like PCP and LSD for prolonged periods can suffer an extreme reaction to the drug that includes flashbacks to traumatic events which can seriously worsen any pre-existing mental illness.

Symptoms of Psychosis Caused by Prolonged Substance Abuse

If mental health symptoms have been drug induced, they generally don’t last long. They are certainly not a sign that mental illness is present or that there is a better chance of developing mental health issues further down the line. As well as hallucinations and extreme paranoia, here are the giveaway signs that someone has developed drug-induced psychosis:

  • • Violent mood swings or lack of response at all
  • • Erratic and volatile behavior
  • • Socially withdrawn and isolated
  • • Lethargic and apathetic
  • • Incoherent speech and racing thoughts

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