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How Can Addiction Affect Mental Health?


Addiction, clinically known as substance use disorder (SUD), is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a complex, chronic brain disorder. While cause of substance use disorder remains unknown, there are certain risk factors (e.g., environmental risk factors, genetic risk factors, psychological risk factors, socioeconomic risk factors, etc.) that have been identified as playing a role in its development. The Mayo Clinic explains addiction as a disease “that affects a person’s brain and behavior and leads to an inability to control the use of a legal or illegal drug or medication.” Drugs are chemicals that affect the body and brain. Different drugs can have different effects. Some effects of drugs include health consequences that are long-lasting and permanent. Substance use disorder is associated with a wide range of short- and long-term physiological effects. They can vary depending on the type of drug, how much and how often it is taken, and the individual’s general health. An individual struggling with addiction will prioritize satisfying her cravings above all else, which can cause adverse consequences in virtually every facet of her life. 

Mental health refers to emotional, cognitive, and behavioral well-being. The World Health Organization (WHO) explains mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” Mental health is sometimes used as a term to indicate the absence of a mental disorder. It is not uncommon for individuals with addiction to suffer from another co-occurring mental health disorder. 

Studies show that substance use disorder increases one’s risk of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and psychosis. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) assert that nearly half of the people “who have a mental [health] disorder will also have a substance use disorder at some point in their lives and vice versa.” When an individual is diagnosed with substance use disorder and another co-occurring mental health illness it is referred to as a dual diagnosis. The 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found approximately 8.1 percent of individuals in the United States are living with mental illness and substance use disorder. This implies that more than 8.5 million Americans were found to have both a substance use disorder and mental illness.

For Information and Support 

Substance abuse and addiction can be incredibly dangerous and can result in severe short and long-term consequences. If you or someone you know is suffering from substance abuse or addiction, please get help as soon as possible. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to leading happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives. There is no reason to go through this alone, and we are here to help. Please feel free to reach out to us for further information or with any questions regarding substance abuse or addiction. We are available anytime via telephone at: 213-389-9964, or you can always email us at:

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