Can Drugs Cause Mental Illness?

Mental illness and drug use seem to go hand-in-hand. Usually, mental illness leads to drug abuse as an attempt to self-medicate symptoms. However, using drugs also can lead to mental disorders by causing drastic changes in the chemistry of the brain. These brain changes can either cause mental disorders later in life, or cause latent mental disorders to surface early.
The relationship between mental health problems and drug abuse is extreme. According to the National Institutes of Health, “In 2015, an estimated 43.4 million (17.9 percent) adults ages 18 and older experienced some form of mental illness (other than a developmental or substance use disorder). Of these, 8.1 million had both a substance use disorder and another mental illness.” Certain drugs, such as amphetamines and ecstasy, can cause a user to develop anxiety and depression after only a few years of chronic use. Amphetamines in particular are capable of causing a form of psychosis that mirrors many of the symptoms of schizophrenia. Though many of these symptoms resolve themselves overtime after the drug is no longer being used, some of the changes they have caused to the brain can be permanent. When these drugs are taken in adolescence, they can cause major problems. In adolescence, the brain is still developing—specifically, the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex of the brain is responsible for emotional regulation and decision-making. The NIH explains, “The fact that this critical part of an adolescent’s brain is still a work in progress puts them at increased risk for poor decisions (such as trying drugs or continuing abuse). Thus, introducing drugs while the brain is still developing may have profound and long-lasting consequences.” Marijuana is one of the most highly abused drug among younger people. Chronic marijuana use at a young age had been associated with the early emergence of latent mental illness. According to Dr. Massod Khan in a 2009 case report for Psychiatry (Edgmont) entitled, “Cannabis-Induced Bipolar Disorder with Psychotic Features”, “Epidemiological studies have shown that as the frequency of cannabis abuse increases, so does the risk for a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia.” The importance of mental health cannot be dismissed. When we introduce psychoactive substances, we put our mental health at risk, negatively affecting every aspect of our lives. Sobriety, however, can reverse many of the mental health consequences of drug use, or save us from a future of psychiatric illness.

You can make the decision to change your story now and build toward a brighter future in sobriety. Oceanfront Recovery, a men’s treatment facility in beautiful Laguna Beach, is dedicated to providing the highest-quality mental health treatment as you take the journey to long-lasting sobriety. For more information about treatment options, please call today: (877) 279-1777