Mental health is the level of psychological well-being or an absence of mental illness. It is the state of someone who is “functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioural adjustment”. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health includes “subjective well-being, perceived self-efficacy, autonomy, competence, intergenerational dependence, and self-actualization of one’s intellectual and emotional potential, among others”. The WHO further states that the well-being of an individual is encompassed in the realization of their abilities, coping with normal stresses of life, productive work, and contribution to their community. Cultural differences, subjective assessments, and competing professional theories all affect how one defines “mental health”. The term mental illness refers collectively to all diagnosable mental disorders, health conditions characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behaviour associated with distress or impaired functioning. Addiction is a psychological and physical inability to stop consuming a chemical, drug, activity, or substance, even though it is causing psychological and physical harm. The term addiction does not only refer to dependence on substances such as heroin or cocaine. A person who cannot stop taking a particular drug or chemical has a substance dependence. Some addictions also involve an inability to stop partaking in activities, such as gambling, eating, or working. In these circumstances, a person has a behavioural addiction. Addiction is a chronic disease that can also result from taking medications. When a person experiences addiction, they cannot control how they use a substance or partake in an activity, and they become dependent on it to cope with daily life. Every year, addiction to alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, and prescription opioids costs millions of naira in treatment costs, lost work, and the effects of crime. Most people start using a drug or first engage in an activity voluntarily. However, addiction can take over and reduce self-control. Someone with an addiction will continue to misuse the substance in spite of the harmful effects. Substance abuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs. Substance abuse and mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety are closely linked, although one doesn’t necessarily directly cause the other. Abusing substances such as marijuana or methamphetamine can cause prolonged psychotic reactions, while alcohol can make depression and anxiety symptoms worse. Alcohol and drugs are often used to self-medicate the symptoms of mental health problems. People often abuse alcohol or drugs to ease the symptoms of an undiagnosed mental disorder, to cope with difficult emotions, or to temporarily change their mood. Unfortunately, self-medicating with drugs or alcohol causes side effects and in the long run often worsens the symptoms they initially helped to relieve. Alcohol and drug abuse can increase the underlying risk for mental disorders. Since mental health problems are caused by a complex interplay of genetics, the environment, and other factors, it’s difficult to say if abusing substances ever directly causes them. However, if one is at risk for a mental health issue, abusing alcohol or drugs may be pushed over the edge. For example, there is some evidence that those who abuse opioid painkillers are at greater risk for depression and heavy cannabis use has been linked to an increased risk for schizophrenia. Alcohol and drug abuse can make symptoms of a mental health problem worse. Substance abuse may sharply increase symptoms of mental illness or even trigger new symptoms. Abuse of alcohol or drugs can also interact with medications such as antidepressants, anxiety medications, and mood stabilizers, making them less effective at managing symptoms and delaying recovery. When an individual has both a substance abuse problem and a mental health issue such as depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety, it is called a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis. Dealing with substance abuse, alcoholism, or drug addiction is never easy, and it’s even more difficult when they are also struggling with mental health problems. In co-occurring disorders, both the mental health issue and the drug or alcohol addiction have their own unique symptoms that may get in the way of one’s ability to function at work or school, maintain a stable home life, handle life’s difficulties, and relate to others. To make the situation more complicated, the co-occurring disorders also affect each other. When a mental health problem goes untreated, the substance abuse problem usually gets worse. And when alcohol or drug abuse increases, mental health problems usually increase too. Co-occurring substance abuse problems and mental health issues are more common than many people realize. According to reports published in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Roughly 50 percent of individuals with severe mental disorders are affected by substance abuse. 37 percent of alcohol abusers and 53 percent of drug abusers also have at least one serious mental illness. Of all people diagnosed as mentally ill, 29 percent abuse alcohol or drugs. While substance abuse problems and mental health issues don’t get better when they’re ignored, in fact, they are likely to get much worse. With the right support, self-help, and treatment, one can overcome a co-occurring disorder, reclaim one’s sense of self, and get their life back on track. The mental health problems that most commonly co-occur with substance abuse are depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorders. Common signs and symptoms of depression: Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, Loss of interest in daily activities, Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt, Concentration problems, Anger, physical pain, and reckless behaviour. Common signs and symptoms of anxiety: Excessive tension and worry, Feeling restless or jumpy, Irritability or feeling “on edge”, Racing heart or shortness of breath, Nausea, trembling, or dizziness. Common sign and symptoms of mania in bipolar disorder: Feelings of euphoria or extreme irritability, Unrealistic, grandiose beliefs, Decreased need for sleep, Increased energy, Rapid speech and racing thoughts, Impaired judgment and impulsivity Other mental health problems that commonly co-occur with substance abuse or addiction include Schizophrenia, Borderline Personality Disorder, and PTSD. Treatment The best treatment for co-occurring disorders is an integrated approach, where both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder are treated simultaneously. Whether the mental health or substance abuse problem came first, long-term recovery depends on getting treatment for both disorders by the same treatment provider or team. Depending on specific issues, treatment for mental health problem may include medication, individual or group counseling, self-help measures, lifestyle changes, and peer support. Treatment for substance abuse may include detoxification, managing of withdrawal symptoms, behavioural therapy, and support groups to help maintain sobriety. At Paroche Reach Out Foundation, our mission is to enlighten young people on the dangers of substance abuse and addiction, provide rehabilitation referrals for the addicted, and post-rehabilitation support to prevent relapse and sensitize the public on positive social behaviour. We offer rehabilitation referrals, proper integration back to the society through our Post Rehabilitation (Recuperation) Home. At Paroche, all our services are handled by professionals. Office address: 310, Herbert Macaulay Way, Yaba, Lagos. 3rd Floor, back side staircase. Contact us on: Website: Instagram: @parochereachout Email: For enquires on the Recuperation Home, Eze – 0703 070 1033 For enquires on awareness and other services, Tobi – 0816 933 8430 Oluwatobiloba Bello Social Worker Paroche Reach Out Foundation Reference
Dual Diagnosis: Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Lawrence Robinson, Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. 2020 NIDA. 2020. Mental Health Effects. Retrieved from Vara Saripalli, Psy.D. & Adam Felman 2018 World Health Organisation. The world health report. 2001. Mental Health: New Understanding, New Hope (PDF). World Health Organization. 2014. Mental health: strengthening our response.


  1. Thanks Umesh for your feedback. With practice. That is the only way to master the skill of listening to your higher self. Start with trusting what comes. slowly you will know. Blythe Marsh Magavern

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