Drug Abuse And Mental Health

Have you ever wondered why drugs affect the brain so much that a person is not even able to function normally? Drugs are complex and so is the process of drug addiction and abuse. In this blog, we will talk about how drugs affect our minds and bodies and how to help someone who is addicted to drugs.
According to a report by AIIMS, nearly 18 lakh adults and 4.6 lakh children in India fall in the badly addicted category. Drug use is not an uncommon practice in the country and the world. The question that comes up in many of our minds is- why do people use drugs? Drug use can start as casual behavior when one might simply be seeking enjoyment. The main causes that lead a person toward drug addiction include:

  • A family history of substance abuse- How your mind and body feel after taking a drug is based largely on your inherited traits. Your genes can slow down or pace up the addiction process!
  • Exposure or involvement in a peer group that tolerates and encourages drug use
  • Educational opportunities- A lower level of education is related to increased drug use
  • Beliefs and attitudes regarding drug use
  • Absence of social support
  • Presence of a mental illness
  • Stress
  • History of neglect or abuse
  • Socioeconomic Status

 How can using drugs affect Mental Health?

While most people start using drugs to feel high and to avoid life problems for a while, it might take a toll on your health in long term. The possible long-term effects include- high blood pressure that increases the chances of strokes, increased vulnerability to certain cancers, liver and pancreas damage, sexual problems (arousal and erection), fertility problems, negative mood changes, relationship problems, anxiety, depression, negative outlook on life, etc. 

Some major after-effects include:

  • Experiencing an increased tolerance towards a substance. You have to take more of it to get the same effect
  • You feel dependent on the drug where you feel like you must use it.
  • When you try to cut off its use, you experience withdrawal symptoms. This might cause you to sweat, feel sick, cold, or shaky when you do not use it. This is because your body becomes habitual of using it.
 If you use alcohol or drugs for a long time it can cause serious issues for your mental well-being. Drugs can make you more unwell and may cause mental conditions for the first time. 
 How to help someone with drug addiction?
  •  Educate Yourself- Get information about addictions and understand that it is a disease and it takes time to cure. Get informed about how it impacts the individual and their friends and family. Knowledge is power and it will help you understand more about the affected person.

  • Get Support- Having a loved one with a drug problem can be difficult for the entire family. Some groups can help you learn how to cope, provide resources and help with the problem. You can consult your nearest mental health professional.

  • Don’t Enable - It is difficult for family members when the disease takes hold. Often, family members support the addiction of the person without realizing it. You should let them experience the consequences of the condition- withdrawal effects being one of the most distressing. Many people are unable to make a change unless they are forced. Do not financially support the addict or their addiction.

  • Have realistic expectations- Do not expect the person to keep their promises but hold them accountable to certain expectations. Offer them help to direct them to the treatment they need. Remember not to act with pity or anger towards them. They are suffering from a serious condition, and you should always have realistic expectations towards them.

  • Get Counselling- It may be helpful to get some individual counselling to assist yourself. Counselling isn’t just for the person affected by the condition. Counselling can help you better help your loved one or manage your stress. You should take care of yourself by exercising, getting plenty of sleep, socializing, and getting support, you may be better able to help your loved ones when they are ready to accept the help


Drug addiction is a debilitating condition. It is a huge cause of distress for the person itself as well as those around them. By identifying and being aware of the people around you, addiction can be spotted early. Remember to not blame the person and intervene as soon as possible to provide them with the necessary resources and the support they need. 26th June is celebrated as the International Day against Drug abuse and trafficking, and as a society, we can work together to prevent and reduce the incidence of drug addiction. All it takes is one step at a time.


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