What is substance abuse and How it affects your mental health?

Substance abuse can be summed up as an inappropriate way to use certain substances in order to alter one’s mood. It is detrimental to your health and can cause various problems in society as well.

Let me explain it a bit more. ‘Substance’ can be drugs or alcohol or any illegal drugs. Caffeine in tea/coffee and nicotine in cigarettes are also the substances which can be used in a wrong way and can be marked as an abuse.

‘Abuse’ means the way thing is not supposed to be used. If you are taking a drug which is not prescribed, taking medicine more than it is prescribed, taking substances more than they are required, and not being able to leave that substance or drug than it is categorized as an abuse.

It is important to discuss substance abuse and its harmful effects because it is spreading fast worldwide. In America, every one person out of ten is a substance abuser. So, it is important to be aware of what actually substance is and how to prevent yourself and your loved ones from it.

Difference between use and abuse:

If you are having drugs according to what the doctor prescribed you then it is certainly a right way to ‘use’ it. But, if you are taking in way more than it is required and you feel helpless in shunning this habit of yours, then this is drug ‘abuse’.

Health experts state that it is not necessary that the substance would be a drug, alcohol or the relevant. The substance can also be something which you are taking excessively and are not able to live and behave in the right way if you stop having it. Like, if you sip a cup of coffee in the morning, then it’s perfectly fine. But if you take, say five to six mugs of coffee daily and you cannot imagine your life without it then it is also a substance abuse.

Likewise, if you are taking (ingesting) anything excessively and you cannot leave it then it is an abuse which can affect your health in a bad way!

How substance abuse affects you and your surroundings:

Below, I will explain how substance abuse affects you. If an individual is a substance abuser then society pays the price. Society would then has to bear the loss of productivity, increase in crime rate, health issues, spread of various diseases and homelessness.

So, it is important to spread awareness on to how substance abuse affects you and how one can shun it.

Here’s how substance abuse affects your mental health:

Someone can notice clearly the physical ailments a person can suffer from during substance use disorder but, mental illnesses cannot be seen without observing closely. We can see a person gaining or losing weight, having bruises and other illnesses. But, we cannot see a person going into depression and anxiety due to substance abuse.

Substance use disorder affects a person’s mental health. It compounds with the already existing (if any) mental health problems and creates more complex forms of illnesses (dual diagnosis). The people subjected to substance abuse are not only socially withdrawn but ‘actually’ mentally ill. They have to be treated like any other physically ill people. There are many rehabs where these people should be kept for a good period of time. This ensures their good health, safety, and healthy comeback in the society.

Here are the common mental health problems a person can face who is addicted to substance abuse:


Friends and family can notice that a substance abuser can feel lonely and hopeless. They can have concentration problems, lack of pleasure in otherwise pleasurable activities, loss of appetite, feeling of worthlessness, not interested in social gatherings, loss of energy and sleep changes. These all are the signs that he/she is depressed and should be treated accordingly.


The person might feel jumpy, ‘on the edge’ and irritated. He might also have nausea, no hunger and trembling. Anxiety can also lead to other problems such as psychosis (if it is for a long time with no treatment)

The person who is suffering from anxiety and is a substance abuser should be taken to any rehabilitation center where the experts will treat him accordingly.


When a person is under a substance abuse, then he might feel ‘out of the world’ with lots of energy and euphoria. He might make some beliefs about himself and the surroundings which are untrue. The person with mania talks a lot and has racing thoughts.

Again, he/she should be taken to a hospital or a rehab center as soon as possible. This should not be ignored or assumed that it will get better itself. It does not! Proper medication and counselling is required.

Bipolar disorder:

A person might feel good sometimes and at the other time, he might feel depressed. Bipolar disorder can make the situation worse for a person already suffering from substance use disorder. Prolonged treatment is required to help the person feel healthy and normal.

Substance abuse can also lead to other complex mental health conditions like schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder. Taking into consideration all these mental health problems, it is certain that they should not be ignored. If a person under substance abuse is given treatment for his physical ailment but mental health condition is ignored, then it is of no good. Treating him physically and mentally is a complete recovery that should be practiced.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *