Here’s what I learnt about the correlation between mental illness(MI) and substance abuse(SA) today. It gave me a deeper understanding of certain types of behaviors and reminded me about overlapping territories that can be very confusing. Source: Night Falls Fast by Kay Redfield Jamison who is a psychiatrist and suffers from Bipolar disorder herself. In addition she is a survivor of a nearly lethal suicide attempt.
The painful and frightening nature of MIs such as depression, mania and schizophrenia can drive patients towards drugs and alcohol as they bring brief periods of relief from despair and hopelessness.
Sedatives and hypnotics might be used to get better sleep and relieve the restlessness that may be associated with these conditions. Cociane is used by many as an antidepressant or to induce mild manias. Opiates have been used as a numbing or lulling agent. Alcohol is used to escape depression (although it is pharmacologically a depressant) and induce senselessness.
Depressive illness can precede, accompany or follow the onset of SA. Like schizophrenia and Bipolar disorder, SA begins early in life and once it has set in, has a stubbornly progressive course. Despite huge personal, financial, social and professional cost, sometimes it is impossible to stop the compulsive use of these substances.
There is a reverberating relationship between the two – one aggravates the other leading to destructive consequences. As many as 2 in 3 patients with Bipolar disorder and 1 in 4 patients with depression also suffer with SA.
“Drugs and Mood disorders bring out the worse in one another: alone they are dreadful, together they kill.”
Compassion and understanding.