Mental Health And Drug Addiction

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Stay healthy! This is the common message we get nowadays from our friends on social media.  What do they mean by this?  What does being “healthy” mean?

When we talk about health, we usually think only about physical health or the wellness of our body.  But according to the World Health Organization (WHO), health refers to the totality or complete being of an individual, including his or her physical, social, mental, and behavioral aspect and not just the absence of an illness or a disease. The WHO states that “there is no health without mental health.”  Thus, we can say that mental health is an essential part of health.  It is vital to a person’s ability to move, think, feel, interact, and be productive in society.

Studies show that mental and physical health is fundamentally linked.  It is found out that people with serious mental health conditions are at high risk of experiencing chronic physical conditions.  On the other hand, people with chronic physical conditions are at risk of developing poor mental health.

How do we know that a person has developed poor mental health? A person may be diagnosed as having poor mental health when he feels excessive loneliness, low focus or concentration, extreme behavior change from high to low, being distant with friends and from other social activities, unexplained tiredness, or sleeping problems. When one is having problems or difficulties managing his thoughts, emotions, or actions even in his daily activities, it can be assumed that the person is showing signs of having poor mental health.

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Poor mental health usually develops into mental health disorders.  Evidence has suggested that mental health disorders often accompany addiction. Addictions can either be associated with substance, drugs, alcohol, or behavioral addictions like internet addiction or gambling.  Certainly, these kinds of addiction can damage and disrupt one’s life. But drug addiction is among the pressing issues that society has been fighting nowadays.

Furthermore, drug addiction can certainly worsen mental health disorder symptoms.  Studies show that when a person develops substance abuse or drug addiction, they are also diagnosed with a certain mental health disorder. When these two disorders (mental disorder and drug addiction) occur together, they are said to have a dual diagnosis.  Some of the common mental health disorders that co-occur with drug addiction have ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, PTSD, and Schizophrenia.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADHD, refers to a disorder in the nerves that are usually linked with attention problems, coping with repetitive activities, and controlling attitude that are impulsive. Evidence from studies demonstrates that persons with ADHD tend to turn to alcohol or drugs to manage their mental condition.

Bipolar disorder, also known as “manic depression,” is about having extreme mood changes – feeling emotionally high at one point and becoming emotionally low after.  Those people who are diagnosed with bipolar disorder are inclined to abuse drugs to free them from the troubles that they are experiencing because of their condition.  It’s common for people with bipolar disorder to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol to feel better about themselves.

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People with depression feel hopeless and may think that alcohol and drugs can save them from these negative feelings and bring them to “happy land.” But when they get addicted to the substance, it can intensify the negative emotions that they are feeling like being lonely and hopeless, which leads to depression.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder involving repetitive or unwanted thoughts and/or actions. People with OCD tend to withdraw from people or avoid social gatherings not to reveal their compulsions and obsessions.

These feelings of loneliness, shame, and physical withdrawal may push them to turn to use illegal drugs or substances.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder that resulted from having seen or experienced a traumatic situation. People with PTSD may turn to use alcohol or drugs to ease their feelings of anxiety, fear, or stress.

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While for those who have schizophrenia, they may find it hard to differentiate reality from imaginary happenings. They may turn to substance abuse to get away with the depression and anxiety that they are feeling. Sometimes, they can be misdiagnosed with substance abuse disorder because they almost have the same symptoms.

So, we can say that mental illness may increase the risk of drug use disorders, or addiction, while addiction also exacerbates mental health disorders.

The challenge now is how to develop good mental health to keep us away from the dangers of addiction. Keep in mind that good mental health does not only refer to the absence of mental disorders or any feelings of anxiety and depression. It is also about a person’s capability to fight back against adversities and enjoy life despite the struggles and trials that may come along the way. Problems and challenges will always be there but also remember that in life, when there are no guts, there will be no glory.

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