Addiction and mental health

Addiction and mental health

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68 Health

Among those with mental health problems, 15-20% also experience substance abuse problems. Likewise, more than 50% of people diagnosed with generalized anxiety also have a substance abuse problem.

Disturbing statistics

  • A research paper reports that 7 to 10 percent of the adult population suffers from extreme stress.

A Canadian health survey indicates that 23% of Quebeckers will suffer from a mood disorder or anxiety disorder during their lifetime, representing more than 1.3 million Quebecers.

  • In Quebec, approximately 70,000 people currently have schizophrenia or 1% of the population.
  • The number of individuals suffering from mental disorders is undoubtedly even higher than the research reports indicate because the surveys carried out never cover all mental disorders.

Thus, there is little precise data on the number of people with personality disorders. In the United States, depending on the definitions used, it is estimated that 6 to 9% of Americans suffer from some form of personality disorder.

  • The consumption of psychotropic drugs is widespread in Quebec since approximately 16% of adults have taken at least one – prescribed or not – in the past twelve months.

The most commonly used drugs are sleep drugs, followed by drugs to reduce anxiety, then antidepressants; their consumption is on the rise.

Doctors wrote 7.5 million prescriptions for antidepressants. According to the Quebec Medicines Council, between 2000 and 2004, one in five (19.2%) took antidepressants for at least a year.

In 2006, among Quebecers who took advantage of the public drug insurance plan, 4.4% used antipsychotic drugs, used either in small doses as tranquilizers or in higher doses to treat mental disorders such as schizophrenia.

Mental health disorders and illicit drugs

In addition to alcohol dependence problems, people with mental disorders are vulnerable to all psychoactive substances.

Among Quebecers aged 15 and over, cannabis use is twice as common among those who have experienced a mood or anxiety disorder during their lifetime than among others.

Also, cannabis use is six times more common in people with schizophrenia than in others.

Of those that have had a mood or anxiety disorder in their lifetime, the percentage of people who use and are dependent on illegal drugs is twice as high.

Mental health and addiction

Nothing a priori explains why people with mental disorders are more likely than others to abuse alcohol or be dependent on alcohol. Nor the reverse, for that matter. Each experiences their unique situation, which results from a complex interaction between genetic and biological factors, their personality, and the social environment in which they live.


According to this theory, one explanation lies in personality traits, hereditary genetic factors, and social factors – of people with mental disorders, which predispose them to alcohol abuse or dependence. The neurobiological basis of psychiatric illnesses and alcohol dependency may be closely comparable; some researchers go so far as to suggest.

Dysfunction of certain cerebral circuits associated with learning would involve mood disorders and alcohol consumption disorders.

Some research has also shown that psychotic disorders and alcohol use problems are linked because they have genes or brain abnormalities in common.

Certain environmental predispositions could also explain the strong relationship between mental disorders and alcohol abuse or dependence beyond genetic predispositions.

The secondary consequences of stress resulting from serious family disturbances experienced in childhood, poor parental supervision, or abuse at a very young age would increase the risk of having a drug addiction problem as much as the risk of experiencing mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and certain personality disorders, especially impulsivity.

Also, people who have substance use problems share the same social environment as those who have mental illnesses. Very often, these two groups of individuals are marginalized from their teenage years.


According to a second theory, people with mental illness are more sensitive to psychoactive substances’ harmful effects than others. Therefore, for an equal amount of alcohol consumed, people with a mental disorder are more vulnerable to the intoxicating effects of alcohol than others.


To escape their pathological condition or alleviate their disease symptoms – caused by the neurobiology of their mental disorders – people in distress consume psychoactive substances.

Therefore, sick people do not self-medicate to alleviate a psychological disorder but alleviate the suffering, sadness, anger, or agitation caused by their mental disorders.

While it is true that self-medication is common among people with mental illness, it is even more so among bipolar people in the manic phase, as well as those with anxiety.

25% to 35% of people with generalized anxiety disorder admit to using alcohol or drugs to reduce this anxiety.

While it is true that alcohol consumption – or self-medication of mental disorders – provides immediate gratification that prompts repetition of the experience, it is contraindicated.

Doctors and healthcare professionals should warn people with anxiety disorders that while alcohol temporarily relieves their symptoms, drinking alcohol increases the risk of making their disorders worse and even developing other mental health problems. . Also, alcohol also increases the risk of suicide.


People who feel particularly anxious or depressed and experience unusual symptoms – difficulty concentrating, decreased attention, a need for social withdrawal, or trouble sleeping – should be extra vigilant. They should then avoid all alcohol consumption. Indeed, alcohol can weaken people genetically vulnerable to mental disorders.

When the warning symptoms are associated with psychoactive substances such as alcohol, the risk is higher for developing mental illness.

Genetic predispositions to certain personality disorders, such as impulsivity or attention deficit disorder – with or without hyperactivity – can be exacerbated if there has been prenatal alcohol exposure.

While mental health problems in some people contribute to problematic alcohol use, the reverse can also happen: problematic alcohol use can contribute to the onset of mental illness in others.

Addiction is a chronic illness, such as heart disease or diabetes, that cannot be cured but can be treated in a way that allows an addict to return to a healthier and more fulfilling life that we all want. If you are struggling with addiction or substance abuse, you should go for Kentucky Mental Health Care services. Medication Assisted Treatment refers to the routine use of prescribed drugs to combat pain and prescription drugs, sometimes at high doses, to curb heroin addiction.

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