What are the signs of substance abuse and how does it affect the mental health of an individual?

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What is a substance abuse disorder?

A substance use disorder (SUD), also known as addiction, is a disorder that causes inpiduals to depend on alcohol or drugs. A SUD is caused by multiple factors, including genetic vulnerability, environmental stressors, social pressures, inpidual personality characteristics, and some mental health conditions.

It is important to remember that a substance use disorder or addiction is a complex condition.It affects the brain and it is evidenced by habitual substance use despite the harmful consequence. It affects the areas in the brain involved in memory, motivation, impulse control and judgement. This can make it hard for the person to regulate their impulses when it comes to using the desired substance. People who suffer from addiction have an intense focus on using a certain substance, such as drugs or alcohol to the point that it takes over their life, despite knowing that it causes problems. It has an impact on the way a person thinks, feels, and acts. It can interfere with friendships, and family relationships and in some cases, can even lead to legal problems.

Signs of substance abuse

Identifying a SUD in a loved one can be a difficult process. Some people who realise that they have a problem will try to hide it from their friends and family, which can make it harder to recognise if someone is struggling. It is important to remember that everyone is different and can have different signs and symptoms. That being said, here are some common signs to be aware of:

  • A person who suffers from addiction has a strong urge to repeatedly use the substance. They most likely will be spending excessive amounts of money on getting access to it and may have total disregard for any serious consequences.
  • According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, eventually, a person with this disorder will need the substance in greater amounts if they are looking to achieve the same reaction.
  • They most likely will have problems at work or school which may lead to poor performance in these areas. Most of their social activities are reduced because of the increased substance use or they might also involve themselves with a new group of people who are similarly engaged in substance use.
  • You might notice some changes in their daily routines such as their sleep patterns and appetite might have been disrupted.
  • They might also experience sudden mood swings and changes in behaviour. They may have developed a lack of concern for their personal hygiene as well.


Contrary to popular belief it is important to remember that addiction of any kind is not a personal failure or something that persists because the person just hasn’t tried “ hard enough” to let go of the dependence. Most people believe that a person with an addiction has a choice or a sense of control over their actions. In reality, addiction is not a matter of lack of will but a medical disorder that affects the brain and is characterised by a compulsive need to use a substance despite its harmful consequences. A person struggling with addiction needs to seek professional help from a psychiatrist as well as a mental health therapist.

Mental health problems due to substance abuse.

Research has shown that substance abuse and mental health problems such as depression and anxiety are closely linked. Research has also shown us that repeated substance abuse can also contribute to the development of a mental illness. Additionally, it has shown that more than 50 percent of people who have suffered from addiction in their life also had another form of mental health disorder at some point. The mental health problems due to substance abuse can range from mild to serious. It isn’t clear which issue is causing the other, but the relationship is strong, nonetheless. Some of the most common mental health problems due to substance abuse are anxiety disorders, impulse control disorders and mood disorders.

Treatment and Management.

Substance abuse disorders, addiction and mental health problems due to substance usage can be treated if not managed. They require a high level of care and support throughout the treatment process, which is why is it important to seek help from the right professionals. Getting diagnosed and treated by a psychiatrist for drugs or alcohol is key in the recovery process. The next step is to focus on understanding why a person uses substances in their lives to self-medicate, which is why seeking help from a professional help a psychologist or a mental health therapist is essential. Counselling can help with understanding the root of the pain, setting goals, and learning healthy coping mechanisms. Acquiring these tools and skills helps a person towards a long term goal to maintain sobriety.

Also read,

Can dance therapy help you recover from addiction?

https://mpowerminds.com/blog/Can-dance-therapy-help-you-recover-from-addiction-Where- can-I-find-a-therapist-in-Bangalore

Self-help tips to reduce anxiety and cope with depression. Consult a mental health therapist.

https://mpowerminds.com/blog/Self-help-tips-to-reduce-anxiety-and-cope-with-depression-Consult-a-mental-health-therapist

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Ridhi Nair
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