In most cases, positives are however abrupt, soon turning into negative consequences. Yet at the moment, drugs can offer elevating and rewarding feelings, for both individuals with and without pre-existing mental health issues.

Drugs and alcohol tap into the internal reward circuit. The impact the central nervous system and how the brain communicates with the rest of the body. Both are known to promote positive reinforcements, which associate consumption with feel-good sensations.

In the moment of consumption, substance abuse can feel like it’s doing wonders for the mind and body. Yet post-withdrawal and in the long-term, there are grave, sometimes irreversible consequences.

Here’s the impact substance abuse has on our mental health, focusing on short and long-term effects. If you’re abusing drugs, such as hallucinogenic drugs or benzodiazepines, or feel concerned about your mental clarity, reach out here at Ocean Recovery.

We can help you experience the right support and treatment for a possible dual diagnosis.


Drugs that affect mental health

The general consensus is that drugs affect mental health, one way or another. Whether they are illegal or prescribed, long-term consumption can disrupt mental processes and wellbeing. Yet the effects will depend on the type of drug that’s been consumed.

Through consumption, drugs will engage with the brain in specific ways, either causing vulnerabilities, increasing activity, or disrupting usual functionality. Either effect, drug abuse can result in short and long-term impacts, increasing the risks of poor mental health and conditions.

Stimulants: Stimulant drugs are found to reduce the stability of mental health, by increasing the risks of conditions, such as anxiety and depression. Drugs including cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines are stimulants, which disrupt and speed up the central nervous system. By speeding up activity, changes to the body are expected, which can result in fatigue, low moods, and irritability post-withdrawal.

Hallucinogenic drugs: They include LSD, MDMA and magic mushrooms, which distort senses and outlooks. Detachment from feelings is common through hallucinogenic drugs, which can over time make it difficult to deal with emotions and can result in intense mood swings.

Depressants: Depressants are sedatives that relax the mind. They are commonly prescribed for mental health issues. However, the rebound effect is likely through long-term consumption, aggravating anxiety, and panic.

Opioids: Opioid drugs are associated with pain relief. They are addictive, which can impact psychological responses and behaviours, along with blocking out any emotional pain. Withdrawal can be difficult to process, which can increase emotional pain and instability.

Depending on which type of drug that’s been consumed, the length and strength of consumption, and personal responses, the effects of substance abuse can vary on the mind. Yet the most common damage is linked to mental health problems, either fuelling initial symptoms or aggravating pre-existing concerns.


The impact substance abuse has on our mental health

The impact substance abuse has on our mental health can result in short and long-term problems. The short will usually display as side effects of consumption. The long-term problems will display through withdrawal, can be the result of damage and can develop into mental health diagnoses, including dual diagnosis.


Short term mental health problems

Initial consumption of drugs and alcohol can knock our mental health off-balance. Moving through the consumption cycle, substance abuse can result in false positives, followed by real-life lows.

Anxiety, depression, panic, severe mood swings and paranoia are all side effects of drug abuse, which will usually display post-withdrawal. The issue here is that consumption will continue in order to block out any further feelings. This can then develop into an addiction, which is highly linked to poor mental health as co-occurring disorders.

At this point, memory problems can develop, sleep disorders can amount, quality of life can reduce, and physical health can also take a knock.


Long term mental health problems

Long-term drug and alcohol abuse can result in lasting mental health problems. Consumption itself can disrupt the reward circuit to such a detrimental point, that substance abuse will be conditioned and perceived as a reward. Significant addictions can develop through this association, which is recognised as a dual diagnosis.

Mental health problems including chronic depression, generalised anxiety, personality disorders, compulsive behaviours, health anxiety, panic disorders and comparison disorders can develop through long-term substance abuse. This is down to the internal impacts of substance abuse, yet also the outward effects of addiction.

Substance abuse can reduce the quality of life, by breaking up relationships, promoting isolation, increasing life-threatening health concerns, escalating risks of psychosis, and causing money/legal worries. All can trigger poor mental health, adding to existing vulnerabilities.


Getting support for dual diagnosis

Poor mental health is extremely common with substance abuse. This is defined as a dual diagnosis, where co-occurring disorders of addiction and mental health issues run alongside one another. There is also a relationship between dual diagnosis and homelessness, so seeking help as soon as possible is key.

As co-occurring disorders can be damaging, specific help and treatment will need to be completed. This will help to reduce the habit of substance abuse, whilst also improving mental health and stability.

As our mental health is very important and should be cared for, dual diagnosis treatment is highly recommended for anyone who is suffering. To work towards long-term recovery, from addiction and/or mental health problems, suitable treatment will need to be completed.

At Ocean Recovery, we can help you experience addiction treatment and mental health support, to mutually recover. We offer individual programmes via our treatment centre, along with support for families and friends.

Whether your mental health has deteriorated through substance abuse, or whether you’re experiencing pre-existing problems, we can help. The impact substance abuse has on our mental health can be long lasting, developing into unbreakable cycles of depression, paranoia, and further behavioural problems. Working through both will therefore be necessary, to reduce the impacts of substance abuse.

Reach out for more information on why your mental health may be suffering whilst consuming drugs and alcohol. Whether you’re addicted to drugs and alcohol, or consume both casually, your mental health can be affected. Reduce such effects by understanding their link.

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: November 10, 2023

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.