Substance Abuse and Mental Health

Substance abuse and mental health can be linked in numerous ways. People struggling with a mental health condition may turn to drugs and alcohol for immediate, short-term relief rather than pursuing treatment for the underlying mental health issue. These are short-term solutions to the symptoms and not the problem. Soon, you’re on a path toward addiction.

“Although pinpointing the exact link between substance use and mental illness is difficult, we do know that substance abuse and many mental illnesses are tied to similar centers of the brain. For example, depression depletes certain neurotransmitters while alcohol energizes the same system, offering temporary relief from depression’s symptoms. As symptoms re-emerge, individuals experiencing depression will often self-medicate with alcohol, leading to a vicious cycle of substance use.”
(Katie Stout, NAMI)

Common Mental Health Conditions that Can Lead to Substance Abuse

Depression. Persistent sadness & loss of interest in life.

Post-Traumatic Stress: A mental health condition triggered by experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event, resulting in severe anxiety, flashbacks, etc.

Generalized Anxiety: Trouble with nerves, which may feel like continual worrying; or frequent physical problems related to an upcoming event, such as an upset stomach.

The Solution

Get help. Speaking with a professional about your unique situation can help put you on the path to a true and lasting recovery. Your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a free and confidential resource provided at no cost by your employer. Your BHS Care Coordinator can assist you with questions regarding your situation and help guide you on the path of recovery. Contact your BHS Care Coordinator by calling 800-245-1150.