Essay on Mental Emotional Health

Published: 2021/12/02
Number of words: 4207

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the term health should be defined as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or illness. Mental health therefore forms an integral part of human health and is important for individual’s ability to think, interact with one another and be economically productive. On the other hand, substance abuse has been defined as the harmful consumption of psychoactive substances such as alcohol and other illicit substances. Recently, there has been an increasing awareness regarding the connection between mental health disorders and substance abuse. Many individuals who are diagnosed with drug abuse are also diagnosed with mental health disorders. As shown by many population surveys, approximately half of the people who experience a mental illness also abuse drugs and vice versa. NIDA (2021) posits that 43% of people in Substance Use Disorder (SUD) treatment as a result of nonmedical use of prescription painkillers have been diagnosed with mental health issues, especially depression and anxiety. As separate issues, both addiction and mental disorders are dangerous conditions. When combined they can be fatal. These co-occurring disorders also present severe challenges to the traditional treatment systems associated with both mental health and substance abuse. For example, among adolescents, these co-occurring disorders have proven increasingly difficult to treat. Yet, without effective intervention, these co-occurring disorders can lead to serious medical and legal problems such as suicide, incarceration, dropping out of school and poor interpersonal relationships. This research paper seeks to establish the association between mental emotional health and drug abuse. It aims to obtain findings which can guide stakeholders involved in management of these conditions in making suitable recommendations for intervention and policy creation.


According to reports by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration approximately 9 million people suffer from dual diagnosis. However, only 7% of this group gets treatment for both conditions, and 60% does not receive any treatment at all. Mental illness and drug abuse therefore coexist in many cases. The term comorbidity is used to refer to such scenarios where two conditions, such as a specific mental condition and a substance use disorder co-exist in one patient. This means that among people who are addicted to a particular drug or substance there is an underlying mental health issue. In some cases, none of the conditions causes the other, so that they just exist together. In addition, one of the conditions may increase the severity of the other.

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Why Mental Health Disorders and Drug Abuse Co-exist

For the conditions in question, comorbidity is possible because they are both chronic disorders which affect the brain. Therefore, when one abuses drugs for example, their brain becomes permanently rewired by the substances which they are consuming. As a result, their brain tends to function differently than before. The changes which take place in the brain occur in the same areas as those which are affected by many mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. This, therefore explains the high rates of comorbidity between addiction to drugs and mental illnesses. The nexus between these two conditions is sophisticated; while some mental illnesses exacerbate the risk factors for addiction to various substances and in other cases persons with mental health issues will turn to drug abuse to ‘help’ them cope with their symptoms.

Nevertheless, existing research shows that although it is likely for mental health issues and drug abuse to co-exist it does not necessarily mean that one condition caused the other, even in cases where one of the conditions occurred first. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that there are various factors that need to be considered where addiction and mental illness co-occur (Alterman, Cacciola and Ivey). In some cases, drug abuse causes individuals to experience symptoms of mental illness and in others mental disorders result in abuse of illicit substances because as patients attempt to use the drugs to self-medicate. For example, there is an increased risk of psychosis among most marijuana addicts while patients who suffer from Schizophrenia may take tobacco as the nicotine it contains is believed to lessen the symptoms of this disease and improve human cognitive function.

Scientific evidence also suggests that addiction and many mental illnesses may result from underlying deficits in the brain of an individual, one’s genetic makeup or even exposure to trauma during one’s childhood years. Approximately 40 to 60 % of an individual’s likelihood to be addicted to drugs is as a result of their genetic makeup. Additional, there is evidence which associates several regions of the human genome with both substance abuse and mental illnesses. The age at which symptoms of both drug abuse and mental illnesses appear is another factor that is common between the two conditions. During the adolescence stage, human being are still in the process of developing and maturing. As a result, there are many changes which occur to the brain. Teenagers are more likely to take risks or act on impulse during this phase of life. Such behaviors are the ones that increase their likelihood of indulging in drug and substance abuse, and also influence mental health illnesses. Lastly, persons who undergo physical or emotional trauma are at an increased risk of abusing alcohol and other illegal substances. An example is veterans who return to their home country after serving. Most of them suffer from Post -Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and as a consequence they are likely to indulge in drugs as a way of dealing with their emotional challenges.

The Link between Mental Emotional Health and Drug Abuse

There are cases where individuals develop mental health illness and substance abuse disorder. While the problems may not be mutually inclusive, the two problems may occur at the same time. Each problem exacerbates the other causing worse implication and symptoms of each. If one was suffering from mental health disorder, the problem is exacerbated by substance abuse disorder. Problems such as PTSD become worse as one starts developing poor conditioning and methods of control in the process. Complications of the two conditions happening at the same time points to the challenges that individual and their families face as they try to develop ways of treating the condition.

Co-occurring disorders are worse as one contributes to the increase in symptoms for the other. Similar to the symptoms where there is a link between the two disorders, the underlying features point to critical models necessary in achieving and accentuating the features developed accordingly. Co-occurring disorders are different since the mental health disorder and substance abuse have unique characteristics. In such a case the individual develops difficulty working with others and functioning in the society. As they increasingly start using the drugs, the problem is even worse as the mental health challenges are differentiated and compounded in the society. When a mental health problem goes untreated the substance abuse problem often gets worse. Similarly, if a substance abuse problem is not treated the mental health issues become worse. While most people are not aware of the overarching issues and significance in the society co-occurring disorders are prevalent in the society. Approximately 50% of individuals with severe mental disorders are affected by substance abuse, 37% of alcohol abusers and 53% of drug abusers do not have severe mental illness. In all people that are diagnosed with mental illness, 29% abuse alcohol or drugs. It is imperative to note that the symptoms for co-occurring disorders may be difficult to treat but there are available options for individuals in the community. Finding the right treatment plan offers positive controls and option necessary in making positive changes in the experiences and controls shared accordingly.

In assessing the connection between substance abuse and mental health, one of the main issues raised is what comes first between mental health and substance use disorder. Establishing the fact scientifically is difficult due to the differences and the lack of connection between one aspect to the other. Abuse of substances such as marijuana and methamphetamine may lead to mental health disorders. On the flipside, PTSD and depressive disorders may lead to substance use disorders. Establishing a relationship between the two where the origin of one leads to the other is difficult and highly improbable in the society. However, the symptoms are evident and can be drawn through the measures and metrics that are evidence in the systems underlined. However, there are some aspects that hold true when one contextualizes the role of different features present in the community.

Alcohol and drugs for self-medication are the main method used to control mental health problems. Individuals suffering from mental health problems use alcohol and drugs as a form of self-medicating and overcoming the mental torture suffered. War veterans fit the profile perfectly as they suffer from PTSD after the war and self-medicate using different substances including alcohol. The link drawn in this case illustrates the differences associated with individual metrics and measures that are salient in the processes developed. However, as the mental health problems become worse the individual increases substance abuse that ends with a high level of addiction and other problems.

Similarly, alcohol and drug abuse can increase the underlying risk for mental disorders. Depending on the age and genetic factors, alcohol and drug abuse are factors that may lead to mental health disorders in the society. Mental health problems are caused by a complex interplay of genetics, the environment and other factors. In young children where the brain is not fully formed, the risk of developing future mental health problems is very high. Critical factors such as one’s lifestyle and conditions that are created as one grows older point to the salient features necessary in aligning with the mental health illness in the society. Finding solutions poses a major challenge due to the different dynamics and measures pertinent in aligning with the conditions premised accordingly. Substance use disorders is a major problem that can be drawn from individual factors and issues including; mental health issues, abuse of opioid painkillers and other problems.

Alcohol and drug abuse can also make the already existing mental health problems worse. Substance abuse may sharply increase the symptoms of mental health illnesses as indicated above. Individuals suffering from mental health problem are at a higher risk of developing severe symptoms if they increasingly abuse alcohol and other drugs. Problems such as delusion and withdrawal symptoms trigger worse mental health problems in the society. Anxiety medications and mood stabilizers can react with alcohol and other drugs that one uses. The combination leads to poor management of the symptoms suffered by the individual in the society accordingly. Recognition of the individual factors and compounding challenges identified points to the critical measures and controls that are necessary in managing symptoms and delayed recovery process in the society accordingly.

Case Study of Drug-induced Psychosis

An example of a mental condition that is brought about by drug abuse is drug-induced psychosis. Psychosis is a mental health disorder which causes an individual to interpret the world differently from the people around them. It causes episodes in which the affected individual breaks away from reality. The disorder causes delusions or false beliefs, such as when one believes that they are being held firmly when that is not the case. Drug-induced psychosis which is also referred to as stimulant psychosis or substance-induced psychotic disorder refers to psychotic episodes which occur as a result of abuse of intoxicants. Besides stimulants psychotic delusions may occur due to adverse reaction to prescribed drugs, or even excessive alcohol. Generally, there are many recreational and prescription drugs that can induce a psychotic reaction. Drug-induced psychosis as a mental disorder is associated with having suicidal thoughts and having violent behavior.

Drugs and other illicit substances such as cocaine, Cannabis Sativa and other hallucinogens can worsen the symptoms of an existing mental illness. On the other hand, when these drugs are consumed for a long period of time they can cause one to develop symptoms of psychosis such as paranoia, among others. If a patient is diagnosed with psychosis while they are also dealing with addiction, they can be said to have dual diagnosis. The symptoms of their mental health condition therefore have to be treated separately. However, psychosis that is induced by drugs is a different enterprise because it occurs when a person consumes too much of any given drug. The toxicity that is contained in the drug involved is what provokes paranoia or other psychotic episode. This condition can also occur when a person mixes various substances or when they withdraw from any given drug even in situations when the said drug has been prescribed.

Dual Diagnosis

Dual diagnosis is difficult, especially among individuals that are denial of their feelings and experiences in the society accordingly. Signs and symptoms may vary depending on the abused drug and effective measures that are developed in the society accordingly. Signs of depression and marijuana may differ considerably to signs of schizophrenia and alcohol. The right diagnosis is however, imperative if the medication prescribed will work in any case that has been identified. It is therefore, essential to assess some of the risk factors or aspects that may lead to a dual diagnosis. If one uses alcohol and other drugs as a coping mechanism for unpleasant memories and feelings or to control pain from the past is an indication of the past conditions. If someone in the family is grappled with mental disorder or alcohol and drug abuse is also imperative in indicating the underlying features associated with the same. If one feels depressed or out of balance if they do not use alcohol and other drugs is also a critical indicator.

While most of the victims suffering from the condition are in denial of the symptoms, it is important to note that mental health problems and substance abuse can happen to any person in the society. There are some underlying issues that are out of human control that may lead to the challenges potent in the society. However, acceptance of one’s inequities in relation to both points to the first step in overcoming the challenges associated with the problem. Substance abuse and mental health issues are a major problem that makes it difficult for one to overcome the underlying challenges faced. Complexities and features associated with the same need to be drawn on pertinent features and processes that are necessary in the features placed on the society accordingly. Rather than denial and continued use of drugs that detrimentally affect one’s health, developing positive methods necessary in shifting the complexities in the community is imperative. Signs and symptoms of substance abuse and mental health problems should be taken as critical steps towards finding potential solutions for one’s future.

Drug Use and Mental Health Disorders among the Youth

One can be addicted to drugs at any stage of their life. However, young people are more prone to addiction. Drug use in most cases starts during adolescence which is the period when the first symptoms of mental disorders are likely to appear. Comorbid disorders related to drug use and mental health problems are therefore common among young people who are transitioning from their childhood to adulthood (NIDA, 2021).

Like other body parts, the human brain continues to develop during adolescence. The brain circuits that control vital functions such as decision making and impulse control are usually among the last parts of the brain to develop fully. As a result, young people are prone to drug use and substance abuse disorders. Drug abuse at such an early age then becomes a risk factor for future diagnosis of substance abuse disorders as well as the occurrence of various mental illnesses. However, the link between substance abuse disorders and mental disorders is not necessarily causative in all cases; there may be other shared risk factors including genetic vulnerability of an individual, psychosocial experiences as well as general environmental influences (NIDA, 2021). For example, if one abuses marijuana as a young person, it may be one of the risk factors for development of psychosis in future, but the risk is even greater for individuals who carry the gene variant for the said mental illness.

Conversely if one has a mental health disorder as a child or during adolescence they are at a higher risk of abusing drugs and also developing a substance abuse disorder later in their life (Kail and Zolner). Existing research points out that mental illness among young people may precede substance abuse and hence early detection and treatment of mental disorder may helpful in preventing comorbidity. In particular, these studies suggest that bipolar disorder which sets in during adolescence poses a greater risk of one developing substance abuse disorder as compared to when one develops such a disorder as an adult (NIDA, 2021). Additionally, the youth develop disorders such as depression and anxiety before they develop substance abuse disorders.

There is also evidence to the effect that, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), when left untreated during childhood, increases the risk for substance abuse disorders. Given this association, it is important to determine whether effective treatment of this condition among children can prevent drug abuse disorders in their adulthood. Treatment of ADHD in children involves the use of medication such as Amphetamine which are stimulants; they assist to reduce impulsive behavior, fidgeting, as well as inability to concentrate. Nevertheless, these drugs are stimulants and hence may have addictive potential, hence increasing the risk of substance use disorder among children. Although, most studies show that stimulants for treatment of ADHD are unlikely to cause substance use disorder later, it is important that the said medication is administered together with other family, child educational and behavioral interventions which are considered appropriate. Such interventions are important especially given the chronic nature of ADHD _implying the need for frequent treatment, and the underlying risk of substance abuse disorder (NIDA, 2021).

Treating Substance Use and Mental Health Issues

In case of a dual diagnosis, the treatment options developed need to integrate both symptoms and factors of mental health and substance abuse in the society simultaneously. Whether mental health or substance abuse preceded the other, the problem needs to be treated as a single function and measures taken in ensuring that one overcomes the problems at large. Individual or group counseling, self-help measures, life-style changes and peer support can be used in addressing the problem for the individual mental health problems. Detoxification, management of withdrawal symptoms, behavioral therapy and support groups for sobriety are implemented for substance abuse in the community. The two aspects or elements work hand in hand thereby developing positive measures and tools necessary in the community accordingly. The individual measures point to the critical complexities that are mapped thereby underlining the main features necessary in developing positive controls needed in the society accordingly.

One of the main treatment options is self-help of dual diagnosis. Self-help is essential in developing a step-by-step model of addressing substance abuse and mental health issues in the society accordingly. Getting sober is the first step with the overarching issues and complexities mapping out critical factors and functions that are necessary in a sustained recovery process. It is important to develop and learn healthier coping strategies and make better decisions in dealing with life’s challenges. Management of stress and emotions is one of the main methods of self-help among individuals with a dual diagnosis. Developing new methods of managing one’s stress, coping with the unpleasant feelings, and identifying the triggers while; creating an action plan is critical as a model for treatment. In most cases stressors act as triggers for mental health issues that ultimately lead to substance use and abuse in the community. Developing new strategies necessary in making informed choices and compounding measures is salient in pointing to the critical measures present in the community. Substance abuse disorder and mental health disorders; point to individual challenges that are necessary across the community. The development of new coping systems and mechanisms help in overcoming the challenges.

Connection with others is also a self-help treatment option that individuals with dual diagnosis should use in addressing the problem. Positive emotional connection with family and friends should be made a priority across the society accordingly. The development of meaningful friendships and connections among family and friends helps in creating positive emotional connection with other people for regular improvement of one’s condition. Following the doctor’s orders to ensure that one becomes sober is also one of the main methods necessary in overcoming the underlying condition. Receiving the right therapeutic models through getting into a support group helps in developing positive changes and connecting with others in the community. Substance abuse and mental health problems should not be used as the premise to fail in addressing one’s connection with others. However, in some cases there are risks involved where people should make it imperative to develop an action plan to address such challenges. The individual features point to significant controls and models necessary in making positive decisions and controls in the society accordingly.

Making lifestyle changes and finding new meaning in life is also a critical step in overcoming the underlying challenges faced in the community. Developing of critical methods necessary in aligning with the potential measures point to the controls and processes necessary in overcoming the individual challenges identified. It is therefore, imperative for an individual to align their models to new challenges that make them better in life in the long-run.

Group support and counseling is also one of the main methods that should be used in addressing dual diagnosis. Substance abuse and mental health issues need to be addressed through different cognitive therapy methods necessary in developing positive measures in one’s life. Support system in a person’s life is critical in shaping positive tools and measures that are necessary in overcoming the challenges identified across the community accordingly. Substance abuse and mental health issues are commonplace in the society making it imperative to develop proper methods in addressing each problem compounded across the system identified accordingly. In the long-run, one should be ready to develop positive features necessary in treating the dual diagnosis.

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Agreeably, there is a nexus between substance abuse and mental emotional health. Substance abuse disorders and mental health disorders and therefore also interrelated and may appear in any combination leading to various sets of symptoms. While the relationship between addiction to drugs and other illicit substances may appear complicated there are five important connections between mental illness and drug abuse as has been observed. The first one is that mental disorders, if left untreated increases the risk of an individual abusing drugs. People who suffer from mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorders may turn to drugs in order to relieve their symptoms. Abusing substances such as alcohol and cocaine may relieve their symptoms temporarily but eventually this leads to addiction to the substance being utilized, and consequently an unhealthy cycle of symptoms which keep worsening. Additionally, substance abuse is also likely to cause mental health problems such as anxiety, and depression among others. Notably, not all people who abuse drugs are likely to develop mental health challenges. However, if one is predisposed to mental problems by genetic factors, for example, they are at a greater risk of acquiring mental illness. In other cases, long term substance abuse changes the chemistry of the brain so that elimination of drugs from one’s system triggers symptoms of illnesses such as depression and anxiety. The other way in which mental emotional health and drug abuse are related is that some of the symptoms of substance abuse and those of mental health illness are the same. Some drugs, especially stimulants such as cocaine may cause delusions and hallucinations, symptoms which are associated with various mental illnesses such as Schizophrenia and Psychosis. Once taken in large amounts they trigger these symptoms_ drug-induced psychosis for example. Fourthly, many people struggle with both addiction to drugs and mental illnesses. Available evidence suggests that many people who suffer from substance abuse disorder have a co-occurring mental health challenge. This treatment for this common condition known as dual diagnosis cannot focus on only one of these issues-it must address both separately. Lastly, both substance abuse disorders and mental illnesses are treatable. Although there is no cure for mental and substance abuse disorders they are both treatable. There are several treatment options which are effective in the sense that they can result in effective and long-term management of symptoms. Some of these effective treatments involve use of medication and psychotherapies. While some people respond to treatment immediately, others must look out for various treatments which may work effectively to cure either or both of the disorders.


Alterman, Arthur I., et al. “Relationship of Mental Health and Illness in Substance Abuse Patients.” Pers Indivd (2011): 880-884.

Kail, Robert V. and Theresa Zolner. Children. Amazon: Pearson Education, Limite, 2004.

NIDA. 2021, March 16. Part 1: The Connection Between Substance Use Disorders and Mental Illness.Retrievedfrom on 2021, March 22

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