How Addiction Impacts Mental Health

Updated on 07/03/23

You may hear more about the physical consequences of addiction because they are the most noticeable. The apparent signs of addiction, such as weight loss, dental damage, red eyes, scarring and more, are often right in front of someone’s eyes. However, the effects that addiction has on one’s mental health can be more challenging to recognize. Mental health can be easier to overlook, which is often damaging to a person’s psychological health. By examining the impacts of addiction on mental health and how treatment can help improve these effects, hope can be restored to those who are struggling.

Is Addiction a Mental Health Disorder?

Some factors and questions need to be considered when discussing how addiction and mental health are connected. For one, it is essential to understand whether or not addiction in and of itself is a mental disorder. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, individuals who struggle with addiction are twice as likely to struggle with mood or anxiety disorders. Those who struggle with a mental health disorder are also more likely to struggle with addiction. It is unclear if one causes the other. While addiction does impact psychological functions, it also causes physical consequences. This means it cannot be considered only a mental disorder.

How Mental Health Changes Over Time

Individuals struggling with addiction may experience changes in their mental health without even realizing it. Addiction can turn you into a person you no longer recognize. You engage in behaviors you would never have participated in before. Addiction causes you to make substance use your top priority.

Here are some mental health changes you may have experienced as you grapple with addiction:

  • Lack of motivation/interest in things you once loved
  • Experiences of increased anger, irritability or mood swings
  • Suspicious/secretive behavior
  • More impulsive, risk-taking behavior
  • Hanging around different groups and places (usually of bad influence)
  • Distrust of family and friends
  • Lowered performance at school or work

How Addiction and Mental Health Affect Each Other

The changes in one’s mental health profoundly affect a person’s overall life and addiction progression. As your mental health deteriorates, causing negative consequences in their life, you may begin to experience feelings of guilt, shame, depression and isolation. These are common triggers of addiction because drugs and alcohol are often used to cope with these feelings. 

Over time, you may build a tolerance to the drugs or alcohol and require more to get the desired effects. This can cause you to use more of the substance, eventually developing an addiction. The cravings can become more intense over time, and the cycle will continue until you or a loved one decides you need to enter treatment.

Treatment for Dual Diagnosis

While addiction’s impact on mental health can be significant, it is possible to get treatment and find healing. A treatment facility that is familiar with dual diagnosis, also known as co-occurring disorders, can help you achieve a successful recovery. Luckily, such facilities are located across the United States, including Casa Palmera, a Los Angeles addiction treatment center. These facilities can get you the help you need and heal not only the physical consequences of addiction but also the psychological ones.

What Is a Dual Diagnosis?

A dual diagnosis, or a co-occurring disorder, is when a person is struggling with both addiction and a mental health disorder. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, people with a co-occurring disorder have one or more substance-related disorders as well as one or more mental disorders. 

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Treatment for a dual diagnosis can include detox, therapy and teaching the patient how to cope with cravings and triggers associated with the addiction and how to cope with symptoms related to mental health disorders. Depending on the severity of the addiction, the patient undergoes this treatment in a residential setting, an inpatient care setting or an outpatient setting.

There Is Hope to Recover from Addiction & Manage Mental Health

When you take the step to get help for your addiction and mental health, you will undergo treatment that is made to help you succeed. You cannot heal from mental illness without removing yourself first from an environment that enables you to use drugs or alcohol. By learning about the psychology of addictions, and coping with negative emotions and cravings and triggers, you can find success and live a long, happy and sober life.

Addiction can have a profound effect on mental health. Many individuals find themselves stuck in a perpetual cycle of using drugs or alcohol to cope with the symptoms of mental illness. Luckily, there is hope. Treatment centers such as Casa Palmera have a professional understanding of dual diagnoses. They can help patients reach a point where they no longer struggle with addiction because they learn to manage mental health disorders. For more information, contact us today and start your path to healing.


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.