Across the United Kingdom, approximately 118,500 people receive treatment for drug abuse and addictions [1] each year.

Though many individuals only require treatment for drug abuse, 20% of adults who abuse drugs will, at some point in their life, need treatment [2] for a mental health disorder, such as anxiety or depression.

Although much research has distinguished that drug abuse affects mental health, little information is available surrounding the link between drug abuse and mental health.

To provide greater insight into the link between drug abuse and mental health, here at Addiction Advocates, we explore the question “Is there a link between drug abuse and mental health?” below.


Understanding Drug Abuse 

Before attempting to answer the question “is there a link between drug abuse and mental health?”, it is helpful to first understand drug abuse and mental health disorders.

Defined as a chronic psychological disease that causes short and long-term changes within the brain to arise [3], drug abuse is a widespread problem.

Arising from stress, social influences, environmental factors, mental health disorders, low-self-esteem and pressure at work and school, drug abuse hinders an individual’s physical and psychological health, and drastically changes how many people act.


Signs and Symptoms Of Drug Abuse

When drugs are abused, numerous signs and symptoms gradually come to light. These signs and symptoms essentially signal that drugs are harming an individual’s physical and psychological health.

The physical signs and symptoms of drug abuse include:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Weight gain
  • Changes in complexion
  • High blood pressure and organ failure

Though the physical signs and symptoms of drug abuse take a considerable toll on an individual’s general health and well-being, as noted above, drug abuse leads to changes within the brain [4].

These changes give way to mental health problems, such as anxiety disorders, depression, mood swings, agitation and paranoia.

In some instances, drug abuse additionally causes psychosis to arise. This mental health condition causes individuals to experience hallucinations and delusions [5], which can be life-threatening.


Understanding Mental Health Disorders

Like drug abuse, mental health disorders, or mental health illnesses as they are otherwise known, are described as conditions that affect how a person thinks, feels, behaves and acts [6].

Many factors contribute to mental health disorders. However, genes, stress, traumatic events, and drug abuse and addictions are frequently cited as common factors.


Signs and Symptoms Of Mental Health Disorders

Mental health disorders present in many different forms. With this in mind, the signs and symptoms experienced greatly differ. However, signs and symptoms typically include:

  • Feeling sad for a prolonged period
  • Low moods
  • Excessive worrying
  • Feelings of shame, guilt and fear
  • Isolation from other people
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Physical pains and aches
  • Headaches
  • Nausea

When mental health disorders are present, many individuals will also find it extremely difficult to cope and may experience suicidal thoughts and feelings.


Recognizing A Dual Diagnosis

Though drug abuse and mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and stress often arise alone, approximately 45% of adults who have a mental health disorder are known to abuse drugs in a bid to alleviate any symptoms encountered. [7]

Likewise, as noted above, 20% of adults who abuse drugs will also suffer from a mental health disorder.

Although dual diagnosis disorders are considered to be somewhat common, recognising a dual diagnosis can be difficult. This is because many people who abuse drugs will attempt to keep this a secret. Additionally, those who struggle with mental health disorders will often do so alone due to the stigmas and taboos surrounding them.

However, when drug abuse and mental health disorders co-occur, dual diagnosis treatment must be provided.

Combining a range of talking and well-being therapies that enable drug abuse to be overcome, dual diagnosis treatment mitigates the impact that mental health disorders have on a person’s life. It additionally ensures that long-term recovery can be made.

As drug abuse and mental health disorders share similar underlying causes [8] and symptoms, to recognise a dual diagnosis, medical professionals and recovery support workers will firstly evaluate an individual’s health and well-being.

A psychological review is also usually conducted to ascertain whether a mental health disorder has influenced drug abuse or vice versa.


As can be seen above, drug abuse and mental health disorders are closely linked. Not only do both disorders arise as a result of similar underlying factors, but they influence one another.

This essentially makes symptoms experienced worse, which can cause both mental health disorders and drug abuse to escalate considerably.

Furthermore, drug abuse and mental health disorders share similar signs and symptoms. They both impair an individual’s physical health and are detrimental to our psychological health.


Finding The Right Dual Diagnosis Treatment Programme

As there is an evident link between drug abuse and mental health disorders, individuals who find themselves subject to a dual diagnosis disorder must seek an appropriate treatment programme.

However, doing so is often easier said than done. This is because not all rehabs can provide dual diagnosis treatment programmes.

If you find yourself searching for answers to the question “Is there a link between drug abuse and mental health?” because you require professional treatment, we recommend taking advantage of our support.

At Addiction Advocates, we provide industry-leading rehabilitation across the United Kingdom. Working with numerous private rehab centres, we guarantee that when the time comes for you to contact us, your dual diagnosis treatment requirements will be met by a clinic that provides the highest quality of care.


Contact Addiction Advocates Today

Having uncovered the link between drug abuse and mental health, you must contact us as soon as possible if you require treatment. Doing so will enable you to begin your recovery as quickly as possible.

If you are worried that a loved one or friend is struggling with drug abuse and a mental health disorder, we also welcome you to contact us. In doing so, we can help you make a family referral to a suitable rehabilitation clinic.