mental health

How Do Drugs Affect Your Mental Health?

When we talk about mental health, we’re referring to the psychological and emotional well-being of an individual. A person who is in good mental health does not suffer from a mental illness, and their own personal outlook on life is generally optimistic.

The stigma around mental health is quickly breaking down, as more and more people are talking about issues with mental health and how it affects our everyday lives. No one is immune to problems with their mental health, and there are both internal and external factors that can affect it.

For those individuals who ingest drugs or alcohol on a consistent basis, these substances can make a huge difference in your mental health. It is helpful to know just how and why this happens, so individuals can make more educated decisions that affect their well-being.

Drugs and Mental Health

So, how do drugs affect your mental health? Drugs are a prominent external factor, considering that they can have a significant effect on our emotions and behaviour. Some drugs, including marijuana, alcohol, cocaine and heroin are all popular substances, which have the ability to arouse various emotions and downplay others.

When we ingest these substances, they immediately begin to tamper with the chemicals in our brains. The messages that the chemicals would normally send are slowed or skewed, and we often feel and think much differently than we would in a sober state.

Although many people choose ingest drugs or alcohol for the short-term rewards, it is vital to know that these feelings are fleeting. There are far more unhealthy, even dangerous short-term and long-term effects to take into consideration.

Short-Term Effects on Mental Health

Psychoactive drugs such as alcohol and marijuana can have immediate effects on mental health, even if they have only been taken once. While not every experience will be the same for every individual, some of the less comfortable feelings that may arise include anxiety, depression, mood swings and psychosis.

Anxiety caused by substance use can result in full-blown anxiety attacks, where an individual will experience a faster heart rate, sweating and fear of losing control.

Mood disorders can also occur as a result of short-term drug use. Individuals will feel extremely down and depressed, irritable and tired, followed by elevated emotions that create delusions and impulsive behavior. This can be caused by cocaine, heroin, amphetamine, etc.

Long-Term Effects on Mental Health

Not everyone experiences long-term effect; it is suggested that some drugs may trigger mental illnesses we were unaware of, or alter or brain chemistry in a different way than others.

Depression is one of the long-term effect on your mental health, and it’s often caused by the emotional roller-coaster caused by drugs such as ecstasy. When the individual is high, they will feel happy and euphoric, and when they are down they will feel an intense sadness.

Schizophrenia is another serious, long-term effect on mental health. There have been connections made between cannabis and schizophrenia, which can occur from pre-existing triggers that users didn’t even know they had.
Schizophrenia can have a serious effect on mental health by creating hallucinations and confusion that make an individual question who they are and what is going on around them.

If you’re wondering how do drugs affect your mental health, keep in mind that every individual is different. What one type of drug does to one brain, won’t necessarily happen to another. To avoid mental health issues, it’s best to avoid substance use as much as possible, to maintain your overall mental health.

Mental Health

Effects of Alcohol on Mental Health

The varying effects of substance abuse have the ability to mimic mental illnesses, making them difficult to differentiate from pre-existing mental illness issues. Some individuals who are abusing drugs or alcohol may already have a pre-existing mental illness, which only surfaces as a result of substance abuse.

In saying that, it is possible to show signs of mental illness as a direct result of substance abuse, and this condition is referred to as “substance-induced mental disorders”. Substance-induced disorders can occur from the abuse of any type of drug, and the symptoms differ between every drug and individual ranging from mild to severe.

When it comes to alcohol abuse, there is a long list of effects that can occur physically, emotionally and psychologically. If you or someone you know is a heavy drinker, the following are some of the effects of alcohol on mental health that they may experience:

Changes in Brain Chemistry

Our mental health relies on the brain’s ability to balance out incoming chemicals, messages and processes. Ingested substances immediately begin to tamper with this complex system, altering the chemicals in the brain and affecting our behaviours, emotions and moods.

Alcohol is a depressant, so it is common that the brain will begin to send out feelings of calmness and relaxation during the first one or two drinks. The brain will also increase feelings of confidence, and cut back on any anxiety.

However, with larger doses of alcohol the chemicals change, and more of the brain becomes affected. Instead of pleasurable emotions, negative emotions will start to take over with more ingestion. Excessive amounts can lead to aggression, high anxiety and even depression.

Serotonin Levels

Serotonin is a chemical in the brain, that works to regulate our moods. Individuals who drink on a more consistent basis will experience their serotonin levels beginning to decrease, which lowers their ability to regulate their moods and react in appropriate ways.

Without the ability to properly regulate emotions, many people may struggle to find happiness or inspiration in things that used to make them happy. It may also be the case that they have trouble communicating with others and responding the way they want.

While mental illness is often the cause of excessive drinking, excessive drinking can also be the root source of mental disorders.

Effects of Alcohol on Mental Health

Moderate or heavy intake of alcohol may initially create the feelings that individuals seek, such as euphoria, increased confidence and relaxation. However, the short-term effects of moderate to heavy drinking include fatigue, nausea and headaches.

Individuals who are experiencing some form of loss or struggle in life may take the effects of alcohol further, with signs of increased violence, sadness and hopelessness. Prolonged drinking to escape these negative feelings can cause long-term anxiety, depression, dysphoria and violence.

Individuals who are withdrawing from alcohol will continue to experience forms of mood swings and instability, as well as hostility and fatigue. Those with serious alcohol addiction issues may experience withdrawal symptoms including delusions, poor body control and seizures.

Some alcohol dementias are so severe, that brain damage will be permanent.

The effects of alcohol on mental health can range from mild to severe, depending on the individuals amount of usage and the personal struggles they have endured prior to and during their substance abuse.

Alcohol affects mental health by reversing the ability to control our emotions. This lack of control often leads to more serious mental health issues, only recognizable when symptoms from alcoholism have been withdrawn.