Mental Health & Drug Abuse

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Pills: Frequently Abused Drug

According to the University of California Davis, as many as 50 percent of the mentally ill population also has a substance abuse problem. In many cases, those with mental illnesses turn to drugs as a way to self medicate instead of seeking professional help. Drug abuse complicates almost every aspect of care for the person with mental health issues.

  1. Drug Abuse Defined

    • Needle and Money Associated with Drug Use
      Needle and Money Associated with Drug Use

      Cocaine, heroine, alcohol, pills and marijuana are a few drugs in a long list that individuals may use and abuse. Substance abuse, according to the American Psychological Association, is characterized by recurrent substance use resulting in failure to fulfill major obligations at work, school or home, using in situations where it is physically hazardous, having ongoing substance-related legal problems and continuing use despite having persistent or recurrent social problems exacerbated by the effects of the substance.

    Mental Health and Illness Defined

    • Mental Health Worker
      Mental Health Worker

      According to the American Medical Association, mental illness is a word that describes any psychiatric disorders. These can include, but are not limited to, bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia and narcissism. Mental illness usually occurs as a biochemical disorder or can be related to upbringing and personality. Medication and counseling may be methods used as treatment options.

    Drug Abuse Treatments

    • Marijuana

      Typically, those with a drug problem seeking help may turn to a rehabilitation center, detoxification center, a 12-step program or even transitional living. Large hospitals may also provide programs, as well as social service agencies. According to the American Medical Association, less harmful drugs may be given, as well as treatment for withdrawal symptoms.

    Mental Health Treatments

    • Medication

      Mental health issues are frequently treated with medications, counseling and psychiatrists. Occasionally, those with extreme symptoms may need to be placed in mental institutions. It can be very difficult to treat some mental illnesses, in which case placement in institutions may become permanent.

    Mental Illness and Drug Abuse Treatment

    • According to Dual Diagnosis, Behavioral Sciences, diagnosis is difficult because it takes time to unravel the interacting effects of substance abuse and the mental illness. Because of this, treatment may also be difficult. One may need drug treatment over mental illness treatment, yet both are issues that need to be addressed. A current problem is that mental health services are not well prepared to deal with patients having both afflictions. It is possible for both issues to be treated, and a motto to live by is One Day at a Time, which applies to both issues.

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  • Dual Diagnosis Behavioral Sciences: Geni Cowan; 2004
  • American Medical Association Encyclopedia of Medicine; 2004; Dorling Kindersley Limited; Random House
  • Mayo Clinic


  • Photo Credit drugs image by alimat from Heroin and money image by Hunta from Lovely Doctor image by Paul Moore from Marijuana image by spiller from medication image by palms from

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