Friday, January 6, 2017

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Effects of Alcohol and Substance Use

Alcohol and substance use often co-occurs with mental illness. In fact, alcohol and drug misuse can make mental illness worse, and there can be serious consequences regardless of your diagnosis.

Alcohol can cause depression and anxiety by itself so your psychiatrist may recommend that you completely stop all alcohol use. When used with drug classes such as antipsychotics, benzodiazepines and mood stabilisers, the effects of alcohol can be magnified. When on these medications, drinking to excess can be especially dangerous, with the increased risk of liver damage.

While slightly less common than alcohol abuse, drug addiction is very common amongst the mentally ill. Drug use can trigger mental health problems or make them worse. This can cause serious problems and can even kill, especially since often the strength of the drug you get can vary considerably.

Use of amphetamines such as meth or ecstasy, can be damaging to mental health as it can cause psychosis and mental confusion. It can also lead to depression, anxiety and sleeping problems.

Cannabis tends to worsen mental health issues you may already have, and makes it more likely for you to develop a mental health condition such as a psychotic disorder in the long-term.

Cocaine can cause psychosis, paranoia, panic attacks, depression and anxiety.

MDMA (ecstasy) cause personality changes, a loss of memory, problems with concentration, anxiety, hallucinations, paranoia and depression in the short term.

Opiates such as heroin are extremely addictive and limit the effect  of treatment, as well as making symptoms of existing mental health problems worse.

If you have a mental illness, it is recommended that you also seek treatment for addictions, as there is a much better chance of recovery if you tackle your substance abuse issues. In fact, drug and alcohol dependencies are also treated as mental disorders, just like a mood or personality disorder.
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