People use drugs for various reasons. For some people, consuming drugs starts as a recreational activity, but for others, drugs can be a way to deal with different problems like stress and mental illness. Growing up around someone addicted to drugs can also prompt you to try drugs. However, drug use should not be taken lightly, and thinking about trying them even out of curiosity can be dangerous as there is always a risk of addiction. Moreover, they can ruin a person’s mental and physical health.
Drug addiction is a grave issue in several countries. Governments are trying to control and prevent this issue as it significantly raises costs in criminal justice, healthcare, and lost productivity. Understanding the risks and causes of drug abuse can help eliminate substance abuse.
The most commonly consumed drugs in the US include alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine, and cannabis. Excessively using these drugs can cause several physical problems like impaired cerebral capacity, organ damage, stroke, and even death. In addition, drug consumption also elevates symptoms of mental illnesses.
Various drug addiction rehab facilities are spread across the US to provide addiction treatment. One such renowned facility is the Delphi Health Group, which offers individualized treatment options for all levels of addiction. The physical effects of addiction are easier to treat than the mental effects, as drug consumption can alter brain functions and has a long-term impact on mental health. This article will discuss several ways in which substance abuse can affect mental health:
They can cause memory loss
Users can suffer from short-term and long-term memory loss based on the drugs they consume. Unfortunately, many users don’t immediately realize this impairment as the loss is gradual. Alcohol can cause temporary memory loss, but illegal hard drugs can cause long-term memory loss, negatively impacting the user’s quality of life.
Experiencing a blackout once in a while doesn’t necessarily indicate memory loss. However, frequent use of drugs increases temporary blackouts and permanently damages brain cells damaging cognitive function and memory.
They can lead to psychosis
Drug consumption can lead to psychosis, a severe symptom of delusion, or loss of the sense of reality. Psychosis has two main symptoms, which are;
- Hallucinations (seeing and hearing things that don’t exist)
- Delusions (believing things that are not true)
Psychotic episodes can last from hours to days, and the person undergoing a psychotic episode needs to be monitored and sedated if need be.
The duration and form of a psychotic episode vary from drug to drug. For example, cocaine can cause psychotic delusions within minutes after consumption, and alcohol-induced psychosis appears after weeks of intense alcohol consumption.
Frequent psychotic episodes can lead to a condition called delirium tremens, which is a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment as it can be life-threatening.
Drugs can rewire your brain
Every drug has a different chemical structure, and these chemicals can negatively impact the brain upon entering the body. These chemicals can interfere with the brain’s communication system. They overstimulate the reward system by increasing dopamine release and imitating the natural neurotransmitters. Consistent use of drugs repeats the same processes in the brain, which changes the neural pathways causing further damage.
Neural connections dictate our behavior. When we perform an activity repeatedly, the neural connections for that activity strengthen. Repeated drug consumption can lead to new neural connections in our brain that possibly translate to negative behaviors, which impact our mental health in the long run.
They can cause stress
Stress is a leading cause of substance abuse. Consuming drugs slows down your heart rate, body, temperature, blood pressure and enhances relaxation. It also increases the levels of GABA, which is a neurotransmitter that suppresses the body’s natural response to deal with stress. Therefore, many people turn to drugs to relieve stress. However, you are prone to more mistakes like accidents, and impulsive financial decisions, when consuming drugs. Hence, drug consumption can cause you more stress in the longer run.
Drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine cause effects similar to that of stress, like decreased appetite, difficulty sleeping, and increased energy levels.
They can cause mental illnesses
Mental health practitioners often give people dealing with addiction and mental health illnesses at the same time a dual diagnosis. There is a constant debate over whether drug abuse causes mental illnesses or if mental illnesses lead to drug abuse. However, both drugs and mental illnesses have a direct correlation.
Dependence on drugs can leave you with no other option to deal with problems other than drug consumption. Therefore, increased dependence can contribute to mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. In addition, some drugs like cocaine and magic mushrooms can escalate already existing mental problems.
The Bottom Line
Drug use can lead to a chronic illness called substance addiction. In addition, it can ruin an individual’s social, mental, and physical health, so it is critical to recognize the symptoms and causes to seek professional help. Hopefully, this article has helped you understand the ways drugs can affect your mental health. If you are a loved one are currently suffering from substance abuse, please reach out to a licensed practitioner and take the first step towards a healthy, happy, and drug-free life.