4 MIN READ | Clinical Psychology

Ellen Diamond

How Do Drugs and Alcohol Affect Mental Health?

Cite This
Ellen Diamond, (2021, December 8). How Do Drugs and Alcohol Affect Mental Health?. Psychreg on Clinical Psychology. https://www.psychreg.org/how-drugs-alcohol-affect-mental-health/
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Substances like drugs and alcohol directly affect the brain.

Most substances increase the levels of your brain’s feel-good hormones. This is why many people who battle with stress, anxiety and depression become susceptible to using substances for a temporary cure.

The problem with doing this is that not only do substances make you think you are solving your mental issue, but they can even exacerbate it in many ways.

Here are 7 ways that drugs and alcohol affect your mental health:

  • Using drugs seem to make the symptoms of depression, stress or anxiety more tolerable.
  • Addiction changes your brain’s chemistry.
  • Substance abuse leads to physical health deterioration that affects your mental wellness.
  • Drugs and alcohol can cause social problems that exacerbate mental illnesses.
  • Abuse often leads to financial loss, adding to stress and anxiety.
  • Drugs and alcohol can worsen your behavior when you are intoxicated.
  • Accidents caused by intoxication can be traumatic.

Using drugs seem to make the symptoms of depression, stress or anxiety more tolerable

All drugs are potentially helpful but when you use them without professional guidance, you can end up using them wrongly and causing you more problems. And the same principle applies to substances that most people abuse.

Some people who feel anything wrong with their mental and emotional health often resort to quick fixes with drugs and alcohol. And truly, these substances make things more tolerable for them.

But these fixes are simply temporary and because you are using them without expert guidance, you can easily end up abusing them and becoming addicted.

Addiction changes your brain’s chemistry

When you become addicted to a substance, your brain’s chemical makeup gets altered. This makes you dependent on the substance you are abusing.

When you become addicted to a substance, you will keep using it even if it provides adverse effects that cause pain and discomfort. So you simply won’t be able to stop using it unless it is inaccessible to you.

So you become dependent on it.

And because your brain’s chemistry has been altered, you can potentially develop additional mental health problems.

Substance abuse leads to physical health deterioration that affects your mental wellness

Your brain is part of your body. So if your body is unhealthy, so will be your brain.

And because the brain controls many hormonal functions that allow your body to move, grow and regenerate, an unhealthy brain can also, in turn, cause an unhealthy body.

So if you abuse drugs or alcohol, you will become generally unhealthy.

For example, when you are addicted to alcohol, you might develop a liver problem. And having to live with the pain coming with it can cause severe stress.

Now the liver problem you have can provide you with a myriad of physical symptoms, but the stress it is causing you can also pin you down from thinking and functioning well.

Drugs and alcohol can cause social problems that exacerbate mental illnesses

A drug or alcohol addict’s life revolves around ensuring they can use what they abuse when they want and have to. And they will prioritize it over socialization and even grooming.

So most abusers or addicts often inadvertently shun themselves away from friends and family. 

On the other hand, they can cause problems with the people they live with. After all, it is not a pleasure to live with someone who is constantly not sober and doesn’t function well.

And when you lose your family or a loved one because of your substance abuse, it can definitely cause depression, if not severe, stress and anxiety.

Abuse often leads to financial loss, adding to stress and anxiety

Drugs, especially illicit ones, can cost a lot to buy.

And when you are addicted, you probably won’t be able to function well enough to sustain a financial capacity that allows you to keep on getting your substance.

And this is often where some people start pawning or selling their stuff.

So yes, you can verily lose everything you have because of severe addiction to drugs and alcohol. And when you see that you are getting there, it is not a good scene for your mental health.

Drugs and alcohol can worsen your behavior when you are intoxicated

This is another direct effect of drugs and alcohol on your brain.

Yes, when you take your substance, you can verily have mellowed down fear, a lack of complete sense, an inability to make proper decisions and more.

Simply put, you are not truly you when you are significantly drunk or high on drugs. And you can cause problems that you normally would avoid, like accidents.

Accidents caused by intoxication can be traumatic

There are plenty of untoward incidents that can happen when you are on drugs or alcohol.

You can become a victim of a vehicular accident, crime, theft, rape, and more. Or you can become the perpetrator.

And these things are traumatic, to say the least.

Get well today

If you or anyone you know are having drug or alcohol problems, you need help. And you need a complete treatment that not only addresses your addiction and withdrawal symptoms.

You need an intervention that also sees to it that your mental health is improved and sustained for a lifetime of sobriety.

Check Addiction Detox to find the perfect treatment centre for you.


Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in mental health and well-being.


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