While one may not necessarily lead to another, substance abuse disorders and mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety, are often linked.
While the exact cause of mental health conditions is unknown, we do know that contributing factors, such as genetics, brain injuries, trauma, certain infections, exposure to toxins, poor nutrition, or the abuse of substances, can lead to mental health conditions.
Women using alcohol or drugs to excess are often “self-medicating” the symptoms of a diagnosed or undiagnosed mental health condition to ease symptoms and cope with challenging emotions. Unfortunately, self-medicating can worsen an underlying mental health condition.
Some warning signs that your use of substances is linked to a mental health condition may include:
- Drinking or using drugs to cope with unpleasant feelings, control the intensity of your moods, or before you face a situation you find troubling.
- Consuming substances to “blackout.”
- Noticing a marked change in your emotions or behavior when drinking or using drugs, such as feeling depressed or anxious, indulging in risky behaviors, or battling unpleasant memories as they present themselves.
- A family history of mental health disorder, substance abuse, or addiction.
- Feeling depressed, anxious, or otherwise “not normal” when sober.
- Having a past diagnosis of a mental health disorder.
- Denying how your substance abuse may be impacting relationships or your professional life.
- Feeling ashamed that you are challenged by your emotions and/or your substance abuse.
- Feeling alone or isolated in your everyday life.
The bottom line is that if you feel like you have an addiction, substance abuse problem, or a mental health condition, you probably do.
This is nothing to be ashamed of, and admitting to yourself and others that you may have a problem is the first step. The next one is seeking qualified medical help to help you begin moving forward with your life.