increased risk of mental illness

People of all ages jeopardize their mental health when they use drugs. For people already experiencing or at risk for mental illness, drug use poses a greater threat to mental health. The effects of drug use can be life-long, even after a person stops using drugs.

  • The 2017 U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that approximately 8.5 million people age 18 and older in the US suffered both from a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder. This phenomenon is called comorbidity because the substance use disorder exists along with a mental health disorder. Mental health disorders put people at a higher risk for initiating drug use, and drug use can also trigger a mental health disorder among people at high risk. Substance use can also worsen symptoms of existing mental illnesses.

 
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2018).  Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health  (HHS Publication No. SMA 18-5068, NSDUH Series H-53). Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2018). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. SMA 18-5068, NSDUH Series H-53). Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

 

  • Even in the absence of a mental health disorder, substance users may experience hallucinations, depression, anxiety, and amnesia, among other symptoms, especially during intoxication and withdrawal. While most symptoms of substance-induced disorders typically end after a period of sustained abstinence, some symptoms last much longer.

  • The damage to mental health caused by substance use can last a lifetime. Long-term, heavy use of drugs like alcohol and inhalants cause damage to the brain often resulting in persistent symptoms of dementia and amnesia. Frequent tobacco and cannabis use lead to long-lasting depression and anxiety. For teens, there is a greater risk of long-term damage to the brain including mental health disorders.

Back to Top ↑