Today I’m excited to share a guest post written by a fellow blogger Seemab Sajid on an interesting mental health topic. <3
5 Ways Substance Abuse Can Affect Your Mental Health
The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) describes substance abuse as the harmful and hazardous use of psychoactive substances (drugs) that result in dependence behavior which is a strong desire to take the drug repeatedly and facing difficulty in withdrawing its use. Here, we will specifically discuss mental health issues associated with substance abuse. Drug abuse and mental health problems are correlated, one leading to another and have been scientifically proven to co exist. Overdose of Scopolamine, opium, heroin, cocaine and crystal meth have proved to be the most dangerous and can have chronic health effects. Some of the few commonly experiences disorders as a result of substance abuse are discussed as follows.
1. Anxiety and Depression
Depression is a two way street. It can be a result of drug abuse, or drug abuse itself can be a leading cause for depression. While almost everyone of us has been through lows of life, there’s a difference between clinical depression and periodic ups and downs in life. Once you’ve developed addiction for a substance, your body will adapt to it and require it in larger amounts, accompanied by nausea or cold sweats in case you don’t do so. It causes feelings of remorse after taking the drug and triggers anxiety. Although substance abuse is not its only cause, it increases the chances of anxiety and depressed feelings significantly.
One of the most serious mental health consequence of substance abuse is short and long term memory loss. Chronic drug use can straight away result in dementia, can exacerbate its intensity in existing dementia patients, and increase its chances of occurrence significantly among the drug abusers. Experts have suggested that one of the leading causes of dementia in the elderly is the accelerated drug use back in the 60’s and 70’s. When the brains of deceased drug users were studied, the damage was found to be similar to that of Alzheimer’s patients. Substance abuse damages parts of the brain that control learning, memory and emotions thus making one vulnerable to breakdowns more often.
3. Sleep Disorders
Use of illicit drugs and sleep disorders have been confirmed to have a direct relation, the former leading to the latter. A majority of substance abusers face difficulty sleeping and maintaining sleep and have reported insomnia related symptoms. Even though many drugs have a sedative effect, they contribute in increasing wakefulness and result in REM sleep which is characterized by rapid eye movements, faster breathing and pulse rate.
A serious form of mental disorder and a mental state in which one loses touch with reality is known as psychosis. One may experience hallucinations i.e. experiencing occurring in the absence of an actual stimulus. Delusions are also commonplace when one is suffering from psychosis. Hallucinogenic drugs like LSD, mescaline,psilocybin virtually change one’s perception of reality and disrupt communication in the nervous system. By interfering with glutamate receptor, these drugs affect responses to the environment, emotions, learning and memory.
One of the most deleterious consequence of substance abuse is paranoia. A state of mind characterized by anxious and fearful feelings, usually those of being betrayed and exploited, and inability to set one’s mind at ease. Paranoia can also lead to delusions as a result of crystal meth overdose or one may experience symptoms when in the withdrawal period.
Although substance abuse can lead to a variety of health issues, one of the complex parts of diagnosing a mental illness is establishing its relation with drug overdose. It is highly recommended that professional help is sought for your loved one suffering from any of these conditions. Self medication is responsible for more harm than cure. Your support and love can do wonders for anyone suffering from the above conditions and can put them back on track.
Seemab is a freelance journalist with a passion for writing on social issues and things that make a difference in our society. Besides writing, she works for Rehab Report as a content marketing executive.
Original Photo Credit via Unsplash from Freestocks.org: Unsplash
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