Mental Health Disorders
The link between mental health and drug addiction disorders has a strong correlation. There are reports of drug users developing mental health issues as the result of ongoing abuse, such as paranoia and other psychoses. There are concerns that drug abuse can increase a user’s vulnerability to mental disorders.
Furthermore, the treatment of drug disorders could lessen the effects of the mental illness. One area where this theory has been quite significantly tested is with cannabis and related cannabinoid substances. The links between cannabinoids and psychosis also lead to an interesting discussion about nicotine/tobacco use and psychosis.
Cannabis Drug Addiction And Mental Health Disorders
Cannabis is a substance gaining popularity in the US as both an illegal and recreational drug. It all depends on which state you live in. The rise in the legalization of recreational and medicinal marijuana in the country has raised concerns. Critics worry about accessibility and a rise in mental health issues.
This is the illegal drug of choice among teens, and many adults. Legalization could place it in the hands of a younger or more vulnerable market. The worry is that early-onset addiction and legal use in those with pre-existing mental disorder could pose a big problem. On top of this, there is the rise in synthetic substances, such as Spice. Here the toxicity is high, and there is a higher risk of psychosis in users with no apparent mental disorder.
There Are Definite Risk Factors For This Drug Addiction And Mental Health Issues
The issue with cannabis is the dual effect on people with pre-existing mental illnesses and those that go on to develop psychosis. There are social and genetic factors here that can have a massive impact on the likelihood of addiction disorders and psychosis.
There is a gene called catechol-O-methyltransferase that works to regulate the release of dopamine. This comes in the Met and Val forms. Tests show that adolescent cannabis users that have one or two copies of the Val variant are more likely to develop schizophrenia. Those without were unaffected by cannabis use. This is strong evidence that cannabis use leads to mental health issues in vulnerable users.
There is a strong link here between drug abuse and schizophrenia, more specifically. Patients dealing with schizophrenia may exhibit symptoms of drug abuse at a much higher rate of the general population. This is unsurprisingly seen in overt cases of severe psychiatric instability.
However, there are also many examples of drug abuse in both mild and subclinical disorders.This is true for illegal substances, such as cannabinoids. However, it is also true of alcohol and tobacco. The latter is especially interesting given the relationship between the two.
Why Does Smoking Follow A Different Trend?
When we look at the issue of smoking tobacco and addiction to nicotine, the relationship is completely different. With cannabis, with have a mental health issue forming as the result of a drug addiction. The chemical, psychological and genetic factors at work can take a mental disorder and exaggerate it.
They can also steer a user towards psychosis if the drug is not handled correctly. Smoking is different because there are no clear links where a smoking habit is directly linked to the development of psychosis. Instead, it is the mental illness that leads to this new addiction.
Statistics from a national survey showed that as much as 41% of people with mental illnesses were smokers. This is alarming as this equates to around double the rate of those with no history of mental illness. On top of this, there are some clinical samples, the as many as 90% of schizophrenia patients were, or had become, smokers.
This large number of cases of drug addiction to tobacco products is often a form of self-medication. Many schizophrenia patients use the drug to reduce the physical and mental effects of the condition. It essentially helps to take the edge off and hold on to some normality.
This is why it is so easy to develop a 40-a-day habit through chain smoking. There is the chance that they can counter the impact of unpleasant anti-psychotic medication. There is also the social side of smoking and the idea that it can help patients integrate with other people.
The Link Between Drugs, Whether Nicotine, Cannabinoids Or Other Substances And Mental Health Is Clear
A correlation between cannabis and nicotine use and schizophrenia is one thing. There is also clear proof of a relationship through the impact of drug use and mental disorder in the brain. Both aspects involve very similar regions of the brain. Here we need to go back to the release of dopamine and the brain chemistry mentioned above.
Dopamine has a strong impact on the brain chemistry of schizophrenia. This is where messages in the brain fail to be properly delivered, causing cognitive confusion and psychotic effects. This chemical is easily disrupted when a patient has schizophrenia, depression, and other illnesses.
Dopamine is also disrupted by substance abuse from many addictive substances. Therefore, drug addiction in schizophrenia and depression patients can be particularly dangerous.
We Have Two Addictive Substances With Two Different Relationships To Mental Health Disorders
This issues of brain chemistry and the genetic influences at work highlight the depth of the relationship between psychosis and substance addiction. Furthermore, the prevalence of smoking in schizophrenia patients shows that there are different issues at work here.
On the one side, we have the mental disorders that occur after drug abuse. The effects of addiction and the chemical substances can affect cognitive function in a way that may trigger psychosis in later life. Then there are the drug addictions that occur after the development of a mental disorder.
Some users turn to drugs to ease the symptoms and may find themselves in a vicious cycle. Furthermore, the altered brain chemistry from the disorder can increase the likelihood of addiction taking hold. The rise of smoking in schizophrenia patients is alarming, but perhaps understandable under the circumstances. The same is perhaps true for those dealing with psychiatric issues following illicit drug abuse.