Mental disorders can lead to addiction

More and more patients who suffer from a mental illness and have succumbed to substance abuse are being seen by doctors.  Estimates put 60% of all people fighting one also fight the other, and with 1-in-5 American adults suffering from diagnosable mental disorders, evidence is clearly showing that suffering from a mental condition makes you vulnerable to substance abuse. While science is still fighting to understand everything about the conditions that make this happen, there are some disorders that are known to have a much higher temptation level than others.

Bipolar Disorder

This mental condition is characterized by extreme mood swings that occur in mere seconds. From depression to happiness, the cycles lead to irritability, trouble sleeping, poor judgment, denial and drug abuse during the elated times and hopelessness, thoughts of suicide and guilt during the depression. Substances offer a means to level this out; but unfortunately, tolerances build up fast and users find themselves addicted much quicker.


Sufferers feel bad all the time. While the majority of people can lift themselves out of a sad period with a movie night or one glass of wine, those suffering from depression can never shake the weight and hopelessness that accompany it. There is a tremendous amount of evidence showing the relationship between this mental disorder and addiction. It is believed that the drug is used to self-medicate the problem. Sufferers feel there is something wrong and turn to a substance as a means of achieving normalcy; and since depression affects serotonin levels and many substances counter this, it’s not too hard to believe.


The extreme fear of judgment and criticism by others serves as the basis of anxiety. It is normal to feel nervous before entering into a social situation; however, sufferers are crippled by these feelings that are so strong they often disrupt daily activities, preventing them from connecting with people socially and romantically. Substances come into play because they lessen this feeling, giving users the ability to ignore their body’s knee-jerk response and conquer their fears.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

While this term is mostly used for military personnel, it can be applied to anyone that has survived a traumatic event. They often suffer from flashbacks, nightmares or horrible memories of what happened. Most people do recover, but they still carry with them the depression and anxiety for up to years at a time. During this vulnerable phase, many want it simply to disappear, and they turn to substances that aid in halting the memories and the nerves.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive thoughts or long routines make up this disorder and leave sufferers feeling powerless to stop it. They understand that what they are doing is not rational but cannot stop the process. Hours of the day are spent dedicated to these thoughts and actions, interfering with daily activities. Like the previous issues, this disorder leads many to substances that seem to offer temporary solutions that stop the problem for a little while.

These mental disorders are only a few of the vast number that can lead to substance abuse. While it may seem tempting to pursue a temporary release from otherwise invasive ways of thinking and acting, substance abuse is not the answer. A drug’s effects only last a short time and then turns into an addiction which only worsens the mental disorders. If you or a loved one is seeking solace in alcohol, cigarettes or other drugs, seek help immediately. Only proper care can keep you healthy and sane.

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