Renaissance Ranch

How Do Mental Health Issues Play a Role in Substance Use?

Feb 5, 2022

According to the Report from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, researchers estimate over 40 million people in the United States received mental health services in 2020. Researchers estimate that number to be approximately 16% of the adult population, meaning over one in ten people receive mental health services as adults. These numbers do not include teens who are also struggling.  

One of the most significant predictors of abuse of alcohol or other substances is mental health problems among teens and adults. Sadly, many people do not receive the help they need because of so much stigma. As a result of the lack of support, many people turn to alcohol or other substances in an attempt to self-medicate and alleviate or numb out the problems they are experiencing. Unfortunately, using alcohol or other substances can exacerbate symptoms and hide them, so the underlying mental health conditions are more challenging to identify and treat. 

Four Common Mental Health Conditions

There are multiple mental health conditions, but some are more common than others. Some personality disorders can make substance use more likely; however, the most common disorders affiliated with substance use are anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and bipolar disorder. 

Each condition brings symptoms that are challenging to control and seemingly easier to manage with the use of alcohol or other substances. However, the use of alcohol or other substances can limit the effectiveness of the treatment when one finally seeks support and a diagnosis. Given this information, being honest about your use of alcohol or other substances is critical to effective treatment. 

Let us look at these four diagnoses and their symptoms. 

#1. Anxiety: 

Professionals at describe anxiety as having inappropriate and uncontrolled responses to certain stimuli. They also explain these responses affect persons struggling with anxiety in their daily activities to the point of altering their way of life. Some change their lives by using alcohol or other substances to cope with the anxiety. However, using any substance without proper medical advice to alleviate anxiety can create an addiction and make treatment much more difficult. 

Anxiety can be treated successfully through either medication or lifestyle changes. Do not lose hope if you are struggling with anxiety. This underlying condition affects many people, so you are not alone in your struggle, and help is available. 

#2. Depression:

Depression can last a few weeks to months and even years. Do not lose hope. Depression can be treated effectively. Depression is a persistent sad or down emotional state affecting all aspects of your life. Depression affects your appetite, sleep, and interest in doing things you once found enjoyable. You may find yourself struggling with intense feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness. 

When depressed, you often want to escape these feelings of despair, and turning to alcohol or other substances is not uncommon. However, self-medicating is detrimental to your health and makes treatment of this disorder difficult if you are not honest with your doctors about your use of alcohol or other substances. 

#3. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:

Traumatic events can occur during any period of your life and can result in the development of PTSD. Symptoms include flashbacks (feeling as if you are re-experiencing the trauma), nightmares, trouble sleeping, anger, and depression. You may feel alone and unable to talk about the traumatic event, and you may want to completely block the memories from your mind. 

Some people with PTSD begin using alcohol or other substances to alleviate these symptoms and feel more functional. PTSD cannot be treated without talking about the trauma with friends and family or a trained professional. Using alcohol or other substances does not eliminate PTSD and can worsen your symptoms, making treatment more difficult. 

#4. Bipolar Disorder:

This disorder is characterized by severe changes in mood. These changes do not always occur rapidly but happen in swings from manic (or hypomanic) to depression, which can be either mild or severe. Mood changes are frustrating and leave persons with this disorder struggling for stability. 

Use of uppers when down or downers when trying to avoid mania do not help individuals who have bipolar disorder. Instead, using alcohol or other substances to cope with the symptoms of this disorder often creates more mood instability, making bipolar disorder very difficult to diagnose and treat.

Things to Remember

The use of alcohol or other substances to cope with underlying mental health conditions is not uncommon but can be deadly. Successful treatment of addiction to alcohol or other substances requires complete honesty about every symptom you are experiencing as you seek recovery and persist in your treatment. Do not be ashamed of any mental health condition; you are not alone. You deserve to find complete healing, not only from addiction to alcohol or other substances but also from any other health condition you are experiencing. 

Mental health issues often play a critical component in developing an addiction to alcohol or other substances. Understanding underlying mental health conditions is imperative to understanding your needs in recovery. At Renaissance Ranch, we recognize you as a whole person, not just someone with an addiction. We know addiction to alcohol or other substances does not occur in a vacuum. We know you are struggling, but you do not have to struggle any longer. We are here to help. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction to alcohol or other substances, please know you are not alone. Reach out to us at Renaissance Ranch and learn how we can help. We offer clinically proven and evidence-based practices utilizing multiple treatment modalities. Call us today at (801) 308-8898 and begin your journey into total healing.