The relationship between drugs, alcohol and mental health is a complex and often difficult one.

Substances can affect people in different ways – what may be a pleasant experience for one person may be an entirely negative experience for another. What is true for everyone is that in some way, shape or form, drugs and alcohol can impact your mood, behaviour, and your experiences of the world around you, all of which can impact your mental health.

How drugs and alcohol affect your mental health

People may choose to use drugs and alcohol for a range of different reasons, however, there are several factors that may lead to an individual being considered more ‘at risk’ of negative mental health effects from drug or alcohol use, for example:

  • Using substances from a young age
  • Using stronger drugs more frequently
  • Having previously been diagnosed with mental health issues or are currently suffering from mental health issues
  • Having a family history of mental health issues

Psychoactive substances like drugs and alcohol can alter your mood and behaviour, and while some people may choose to partake for the positive short-term experience, using drugs and alcohol can have a significant negative impact over the long-term.

Short term effects

Many people consume drugs and alcohol because of the short-term intoxication effects and the pleasant feelings associated with them. These effects vary from person to person and can often come with unwanted short-term side effects that they may not have anticipated.

After the initial intoxication or ‘high’ has passed, it is common for a person to feel low, anxious, or depressed, particularly with drugs that cause a chemical change to your dopamine and serotonin levels, such as cocaine or MDMA.

Long term effects

More extensive long-term use of drugs and alcohol can have a significantly negative impact on a person’s mental health. While it isn’t fully understood why some substances negatively impact some and not others, the risk of drugs and alcohol impacting your mental health is much more likely if you are using frequent and higher doses of a substance.

Psychoactive drugs especially can cause a change in the way certain chemicals affect your brain, which can lead to issues like:

  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Psychosis
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Addiction and dependency
  • Delusions
  • Schizophrenia
  • Loss of motivation
  • Sudden mood changes

Often, people may choose to use drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with troubling experiences or difficult emotions, and as the need for more frequent and stronger substances takes hold, they may find they begin to struggle to cope with the longer-term effects of substance use and need additional support.

If that should happen, help is available.

At ANA, we work closely with our clients to help rebuild their lives, gain confidence and self-worth and believe that they can live a healthy, responsible, and productive life, free of addictive substances.

Contact ANA today, our friendly team is on hand and ready to help.