If you or someone you care about is struggling with addiction, there are some very important facts you should know about the effects of drugs and alcohol on mental health. This guide is designed to inform people who are currently suffering from addiction, as well as people who know someone suffering from addiction, about how substance abuse and addiction affect the brain, the mental health effects of drugs and alcohol, and how to take steps towards recovery. But first, let us get some more information on what a person can look like when they are struggling with addiction.

If you are reading this guide for yourself and are wondering if you really have a substance abuse problem, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you keep taking a drug after it is no longer needed for a health problem?
  • Do you need more and more of a substance to get the same effects?
  • Do you feel strange when the alcohol or drugs wear off? (Shaky, depressed, sick to your stomach, sweaty or have headaches and in severe cases, confusion, seizures, or fever)
  • Do you feel like you can’t stop yourself from using a substance? Even when you want to? Even when it’s making bad things happen in your life like trouble with friends, family, work or the law?
  • Do you spend a lot of time thinking about the substance? How to get more and how much better you’ll feel after you get it?
  • Have you lost interest in things you like to do and have trouble engaging in normal activities?

If you are reading this guide to try and help someone you care about, here are a few common indicators that they could be struggling with addiction:

  • They appear to have personality or behavior changes like lack of motivation, irritability, and agitation.
  • They may have bloodshot eyes and frequent bloody noses.
  • They may have newly developed shakes, tremors, or slurred speech.
  • They may have made changes in their daily routine.
  • They may have developed a lack of concern for their personal hygiene.
  • They may have an unusual need for money or financial problems.
  • They may have stopped keeping up with obligations and isolating.

Now that we are more familiar with what a person struggling with addiction looks like on the outside, let us look at what is happening on the inside.

How does substance abuse and addiction affect the brain?

If you believe you have noticed a change in yourself or in the person you care abouts emotional state, thought patterns or behaviors during or after substance abuse, you are probably correct. Addiction impacts the brain on many levels. For example, alcohol is a depressant which will cause disruptions in the balance of the brain affecting thoughts, feelings, and actions – and sometimes our long-term mental health. When we use things like stimulants, opiods, sedatives or alcohol, the chemical compounds enter the brain or bloodstream. Once a chemical enters the brain it can cause people to lose control of their impulses or crave a harmful substance. Drugs alter the nerve cells that normally send, receive, and process information, called neurotransmitters.

They do this by:

  1. Imitating the brains natural chemical messenger
  2. Over stimulating the “reward circuit” of the brain
  3. Flooding the brain with excess chemicals
  4. Binding to receptors in the brain

Basically, alcohol and drugs upset the way neurons normally work.

What are the mental health effects of drugs and alcohol?

The psychological distress associated with substance abuse can range from mild to serious. It isn’t clear which issue is causing the other, but the relationship is strong, nonetheless. People who suffer from mood or anxiety disorders are almost twice as likely to also suffer from a substance abuse disorder, and people who suffer from substance abuse disorders are approximately twice as likely to also suffer with a mood or anxiety disorder. People often also abuse substances as a way to self-medicate the symptoms of mental health problems which often can increase the underlying risk for mental health disorders as well as trigger new symptoms. If you or someone you care about is chronically using drugs or alcohol it can lead to changes in the brain, which can lead to mental health issues including paranoia, depression, anxiety, aggression, hallucinations, and other problems.

What is the next step towards recovery?

This guide has shown us how addiction and substance abuse can affect us on the outside and on the inside. If after reading this you believe you are struggling with substance abuse and/or mental health, or know someone that is, please give us a call at (844) 692-7528. and speak with one of our caring admissions staff. We at Pacific Crest Trail Detox, LLC offer high-quality, affordable, and compassionate support for individuals looking to end their substance use and overcome the struggles of physical and psychological withdrawal. Our employment of traditional detoxification services includes both medication and clinical interventions, in order to facilitate as smooth and comfortable of a transition into sobriety as possible. We provide a private home setting, which allows for each client to have the most comfortable experience possible. Furthermore, we offer 24 hour monitoring from a trained and professional staff. Moreover, our facility adheres to high standards of clinical care.