National Institutes of Health

Drug Abuse and Mental Health Problems Often Happen Together

More than half of people who have drug problems also have a mental health problem, such as:

  • Depression, which makes them feel very sad and tired.
  • Anxiety, which makes them feel nervous, worried, and afraid.
  • Bipolar disorder, which makes their moods change back and forth. They might be full of energy, excited, or even angry, then feel sad, tired, and hopeless.
  • ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), which makes it hard to pay attention, sit still, and not act out.
  • Antisocial personality disorder, which makes it hard to have good relationships and care about other people's feelings.

And, people with mental health problems like these are twice as likely to also have drug problems. This is partly because drug abuse and mental health problems affect the same parts of the brain.

If someone feels really bad, they might try to make it better by abusing drugs. Unfortunately, that doesn't usually work for very long. Instead they may become addicted to drugs, and then feel even worse than before.

The drug problem can make the mental health problem worse. And the mental health problem can make the drug problem worse. Someone with both types of problems may need treatment for both in order to get better.

A young businessman in emotional distress

More than half of people who have drug problems also have a mental health problem, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. (Photo information)