Mental Illness + Substance Abuse: What You Need to Know

*Disclaimer: This blog contains affiliate links. See below for more information. 

Some people who suffer from mental illnesses such as PTSD, depression, anxiety, OCD, may cope with their symptoms by using drugs or alcohol. Although these provide instant relief, this is only temporary as the problems are still there when the drugs or alcohol fade away.

eeshan-garg-263528-unsplashIn fact, many times drug or alcohol abuse can make the symptoms worse. For those who struggle with a mental illness and substance abuse, they are said to have a dual diagnosis. It is important to understand how this problem can be dealt with in a healthy manner to help the person overcome both the symptoms of mental health issues and his or her substance abuse.


Post-traumatic stress disorder is an example of a social anxiety disorder that could cause individuals to turn to substance abuse. In order for someone to be diagnosed with PTSD, he or she has to have been exposed to an extreme stressor or traumatic event that has caused him or her fear and hopelessness. The individual will have constant memories of the event and avoid places and people that may remind him or her of the event.

Instead of facing the truth about having PTSD, some may take drugs or drink whenever memories of the event come to his or her mind. They may become reliant on the substances to cope with the symptoms of PTSD and unintentionally develop an addiction.

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Nearly 1/3 of people with major depression have also reported having a problem with alcohol. A person that struggles with depression may turn to substance abuse in order to relieve the symptoms. As soon as the drugs and alcohol wears off the symptoms are still there, if not worse. This can be especially dangerous when the person turns to alcohol, which is a depressant. He or she can make their depression symptoms even worse and may feel trapped in a never ending cycle. Dual diagnosis rehabs are available to help people understand this cycle and how to cope with their mental health symptoms in a healthy way.


Anxiety and substance abuse are also very much intertwined. It is important to understand your symptoms if you suffer from anxiety. Working with a psychiatrist or therapist to cope with your anxiety symptoms is the best way to avoid developing an addiction. Also, someone who never had a problem with anxiety can develop anxiety disorder as a result of their substance abuse. When you receive a dual diagnosis for anxiety and drug abuse it is best to build a support group of people who can help you with both problems.

Care for Yourself in a Healthy Way

When deciding whether or not to get treatment for mental health and substance abuse a person should not feel like he or she is alone because, in the United States, a dual diagnosis means that you have a lot of work to do in order to lead a fulfilling life, but it is very possible. The best way to fight back against your mental health is to be fully aware of your problem and develop a plan to overcome both. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but every day you make the right choice to address your mental health in a healthy manner you are winning the fight. Help is out there you just need to have the courage to ask.

Dale is a writer and researcher in the fields of addiction and mental health. After battling with an addiction Dale was able to earn his Bachelor’s degree and find a job doing what he loves. Dale writes about addiction and mental health with the hope to help lift the negative stigma associated with both. When not working you can look for Dale at your local basketball court. You can find more of his work on Twitter.

Interested in sharing your mental health story? Click HERE!

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links which means I will earn a small commission if you purchase through those links. This helps support the blog and allows me to continue to make free content. Thanks for your support!


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