Substance abuse is when you take more than is recommended of a drug or are experiencing its adverse effects but still opt to use it controllably.
For example, if you get drunk every weekend and have a hangover the next day, you simply have abused alcohol. But if you continue drinking abusively daily up to a point when you already even have an ulcer, then you are addicted.
Drug addiction is when you keep on using a drug for its benefits even though you are experiencing its adverse effects more than its pleasurable effects.
So verily, substance abuse can quickly turn into an addiction. This is because most drugs and psychoactive substances can make you develop a tolerance.
The more you need to take to enjoy a drug’s effects, the higher your tolerance. And you can verily get to a point when your brain has been chemically altered to depend on the substance you abuse.
So a truly addicted person cannot stop using their drug without professional medical intervention. This is why many experts believe that addiction has to be categorised as a disease or a mental health issue.
And that’s where the connection starts.
So, first of all, addiction treatment is considered by many as a mental health intervention.
But there’s more to the link between mental health treatment and substance abuse treatment.
Many people start abusing drugs to ‘medicate’ or ‘cure’ their anxiety, stress, or depression.
And doing so is understandable because drugs and alcohol can make a person feel relaxed or unstressed. Drugs and alcohol affect your brain in a way that it is encouraged to produce feel-good hormones.
And when these hormones are present in your system, your mental issues like stress, anxiety or depression seem to be mellowed out.
So many people who have mental problems have resorted to drugs.
This is why today, abuse and addiction treatment centers employ not only treatment for the substance problem itself. But they also put a focus on the root cause of why a patient starts drinking or using drugs in the first place.
So another connection is that substance abuse and addiction treatment commonly goes hand-in-hand with mental health care for recovering addicts and abusers.
And this makes perfect sense because if you only treat the addiction or abuse problem but don’t help the patient work around why they use drugs or alcohol in the first place, they might simply relapse.
Also, because your mind’s chemistry has been altered if you have been abusing drugs for an extended period, it potentially has caused you new mental health problems.
After a long time of using a drug, your brain will be so used to its effects. And when you stop because of treatment, your brain can become somewhat confused, leading to an imbalance of hormones that often lead to depression, agitation, anxiety, and a myriad of other issues.
And for those adverse effects, you will also need mental health interventions.
So one more connection between substance abuse treatment and mental health care is that patients recovering from abusing drugs often need mental health treatment.
Truly, substances like drugs and alcohol can damage your psychiatric health in many ways. And while they can be the easiest escape for those who already have mental problems, they shouldn’t be introduced as any form of cure.
For example, a depressed person may find temporary relief with meth. But because meth is highly addictive, the person may keep on using the drug even when they don’t truly “need” it.
Then, the person will slowly but surely develop a tolerance. And that means they will have to increase how much of the drug they take.
And when the person becomes addicted, the depression is still there. But also, the person begins to see the devastating effects of the drug in all aspects of their life.
Aside from mental problems directly caused by the drug-provided chemical imbalance in the brain, they will see social problems, physical incapabilities and financial troubles that can exacerbate their depression.
Such a person needs not only to be treated for the addiction but also the exacerbated depression resulting from long-term abuse or addiction.
Additionally, the root cause of the primary depression that the person has had must be addressed to finally make their life better.
This is why if you or anyone you know is suffering from a substance abuse or addiction problem, their mental health is one of the top priorities to make it better.
So you need a treatment that not only focuses on dealing with making withdrawal more tolerable. You also need complete mental health care that sustains your peace long after you have recovered.
If you are looking for an all-in-one center to recover from drug or alcohol problems that ensures to take care of your mental health for a sustainable recovery, find solutions at Addiction Answers.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in mental health and well-being.