Drugs (including alcohol) can act quite quickly to change people’s feelings so it’s not surprising that people turn to drugs (including alcohol) to try to feel better when they want to relax, get a high or get away from a bad feeling. A lot of people use drugs and alcohol to control or escape from bad feelings including “mental health problems”. The problem is, drugs only have an impact in the short term and overdoing it or coming to rely on drugs and alcohol doesn’t just affect your body, it can really make your feelings worse too. Sometimes the comedown from drugs is also hard to handle – so even when drugs and alcohol are just used to relax, they can have the reverse effect and make you feel more anxious or depressed.
Anxiety & depression
Anxiety and depression are common feelings affecting some people more than others. When anxiety and depression get really bad they can be called a “mental health problem”. It is not surprising that people who already feel like this sometimes try drugs to feel better. After all, doctors often prescribe tranquillisers or anti-depressants for the same purpose. For some people, however, alcohol and drugs – like cannabis, ecstasy and acid (LSD) – can cause mental health problems or at least make them worse. The effect of all drugs is unpredictable and even prescribed drugs are not usually the best long-term answer to feeling miserable or frightened. When you start to rely on any drugs – and we mean prescription drugs too – as a way of dealing with or covering up social and personal problems, it’s vital to nip it in the bud fast. Otherwise it can lead to a situation where you find yourself with a “double whammy” of both mental health problems and a drug dependency/addiction. Each then makes the other worse. As we all know, many drugs are illegal. However you feel about that, don’t forget that drug use can easily get out of control, sometimes without you even realising it, and can get you into more problems and more gloom and depression – and no-one wants that.
Alcohol addiction and drug addiction
Whether getting hooked on alcohol or drugs is a mental health problem or just an unhelpful way of reacting to a mental health problem, it needs dealing with. With help people can get off drugs and face the problems that made them go on drugs in the first place. It’s not easy but it can be done. When people stop taking any addictive drug they can go through physical withdrawal symptoms. There can also be bad mental feelings when you come off drugs, like “going out of your head” but you can get through it with support and it doesn’t last.Amended and accredited by Martin Seager CPsychol AFBPsS 10th June 2013